Category: Opinion/Editorial

Confused by Facebook’s new privacy policy? You’re supposed to be

There’s a whole new reason to believe the vote over Facebook’s proposed policy changes is a farce: Some of the new language is purposefully written to confuse you.

As you may have heard by now, Facebook wants to make a bunch of changes to its site governance documents – the so-called Data Use Policy (its privacy policy) and its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (its terms of service). While there are quite a few changes on Facebook’s list, one in particular caught my eye.

Under the section covering Facebook Messages in the Data Use Policy (PDF), Facebook wants to take out this line: “You can control who can start a message thread with you through your ‘How You Connect’ settings. If they include others on that message, the others can reply too.” And it wants to replace it with, “Anyone on a message thread can reply to it.”

After re-reading this language a few times, I still couldn’t figure out what the heck “Anyone on a message thread can reply to it” means, in the context of the Data Use Policy. Having received an offer from a Facebook spokesman to “answer any questions” I might have about the proposed changes, I decided to reach out to him and ask: What, exactly, does this change mean for Facebook users?

This was the Facebook spokesman’s reply:

Read the complete article at Digital Trends.

Saving the world with tech? It’s getting easier all the time

Sir Ronald Cohen is on a mission. Back in the 1970s he was one of the key players in the development of the venture capital industry in the UK, setting up Apax Partners.  But now he’s using the approach he developed financing businesses and delivering a return to investors to tackle social issues.

When you listen to Cohen (below) talk about it, the scale of the challenge is what interests him. He sees social problems getting bigger but charities and the public sector less able to try new approaches because their time is spent servicing existing needs. So 10 years ago he set about proving that ‘social investment’ could have an impact. He co-founded Bridges and the Social Investment Business and played a role in the creation of social impact bonds that are now spreading to other countries.

Read the complete article at Gigaom.

PAY FACEBOOK TO PROMOTE THIS POST OR THIS DOG WILL DIE!

It stands to reason that if Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm is turning down the volume on everyone who uses it by 85%, then it would be organizations like animal shelters that would suffer the most from Facebook’s policy changes. Think about it, the more dogs they have to find homes for, the bigger their bill to Facebook. Their problems scale financially. With Facebook’s ubiquity, they have nowhere else to go. An animal shelter simply doesn’t have ten bucks to throw at Mark Zuckerberg’s godlike bronze feet every time they’re trying to prevent a puppy from being exterminated!

See what I mean? It’s not a trivial example, and it’s one that almost EVERYONE can relate to. Last year my wife Tara found a home for an absolutely gorgeous puppy—she had taken up residence in our neighbor’s backyard and refused to leave—in under three hours using Facebook and Twitter. But that was then and this is now.

If Facebook’s greedy shakedown of their user base can be demonstrated to cause the word getting out about everything to be reduced by 85% (this is by their own admission, I remind you), unless you’re willing to pay up for their insane fees, it follows logically that this has had a very, very negative effect on getting dogs and cats adopted in EVERY COMMUNITY ACROSS THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, because every animal shelter uses Facebook to spread the word about dogs and cats with their time literally running out.

Facebook put us in an untenable financial position, but they also put themselves in a position where editorials such as this one are going to become more and more frequent. You will start to see stories on local news shows about how dog shelters are having no choice but to put down more dogs and cats because they’ve got no way of getting the word out unless they pay because Facebook is hiding their posts. Think about how many family pets are lost during a time when a wide-scale natural disaster strikes. Ask yourself WHY the American Humane Society should be forced to give THEIR DONATIONS to Facebook? They’ve got better things to do with their money than making Mark Zuckerberg even more obscenely wealthy paying his info toll—like actually putting that money towards saving animals’ lives!

And again, the flipside of this is that Facebook are still unwisely ruining their newsfeed, the only reason most people care about Facebook to begin with, the crown jewel of their product. My wife told me yesterday afternoon that in a several hour period she’d only seen posts from people she’d never met, Doritos, and George Takei in her Facebook feed. Draw your own conclusions about how long you personally plan to stick around for those updates from Axe deodorant, Mountain Dew, Arby’s and people you don’t even know!

Read the complete article at Dangerous Minds.

Google: Let Us Opt Out of Your Data Mining Machine

The French data protection agency (aka, the CNIL), acting on behalf of a large group of European data protection agencies, today announced that it was taking action to push Google to make a number of changes to its privacy policy that came into effect earlier this year.

One of the big issues for the CNIL is the lack of control for the user over the amount of data that is collected when you use a Google cloud service or how that data can be used. There is no opt-out for users if they don’t want their browsing habits and internet content mined for the purpose of enhancing Google’s search or displaying more relevant Google ads.

Google’s answer to this is “competition is one click away.” If you don’t like how Google treats your private data then you can use someone else’s product.

Yet this answer does not ring true for users who are forced to use Google’s services because their employer or school has adopted Google Apps for Business, Education and Government.

Read more at Wired.

Email Is The New Pony Express–And It’s Time To Put It Down

So what’s the solution? Our idea: Turn email into a conversation. Get rid of the inbox. Build an online platform where departments can post and respond to messages on central discussion threads, Facebook-style. Then integrate that with Twitter and Facebook so great ideas can be broadcast–with a click–to the world. Conversations isn’t a revolutionary concept; it’s a duh-it’s-about-time concept. And it’s worked for us and 5 million clients. A year from now, we may well be reading email its last rites. Here’s why:

Email has become an unproductivity tool. Right now, the typical corporate user spends 2 hours and 14 minutes every day reading and responding to email, according to McKinsey’s 2012 Social Economy report. Our inboxes have become an open door for anything and everything, some of which is pure spam and most of which is neither time-sensitive nor relevant in the here and now. The average business user wades through 114 emails a day, which works out to 41,610 messages a year (or one email every 12.6 minutes of your life).

Email is linear, not collaborative. Email was never intended for collaborative work. Try setting up a meeting time with a group on email and that becomes painfully obvious. Messages flood in, getting out of sync and leaving users scrolling madly to track the conversation. A better option: Facebook-style discussion threads where multiple employees can post, reply, and view centrally in real time.

Read the complete article at Fast Company.

10 reasons why the desktop PC will live forever

Steve Jobs piqued consumer curiosity when he unveiled the iPad and declared “the post-PC era has begun.” And now with the imminent release of Windows 8 RT tablets—low-powered slates running a touch-friendly version of Office—it might seem that perhaps the world actually can live without desktop computers.

It’s an intriguing proposition, but don’t count on mobile devices killing off your desktop PC any time soon. While mobile gear is certainly convenient when you’re trying to conduct business on the go, it’s nowhere near as convenient as a desktop when you’re trying to complete serious work in an office environment.

Sure, your phone, tablet or even laptop might conveniently fit in your pocket or backpack, but all these devices are fraught with compromises, whether it’s computing power, screen size, or, well, a really expensive price tag.

No, friends, the so-called post-PC world is not yet upon us. But if you’re still not convinced, here are ten reasons you shouldn’t give up your desktop any time soon.

Desktop PCs are cheap

Desktops are cheaper than laptops—both when you buy them new, and when you have to make repairs. There are a few reasons for this, but the main reason is that mobile components are more expensive, because they’re, well, smaller, and expensive engineering is required to make them fit inside your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Desktop components don’t have to be nearly as small or fit together like jigsaw pieces, because a roomy desktop tower is a heck of a lot larger than even the most generously sized laptop.

Read the complete article at PCWorld.

The Free Internet Will Be Just Fine With Do Not Track. Here’s Why.

The ad industry says that Do Not Track will destroy the free Internet. We love the Internet and would be pretty upset if it died, so we looked deeper into this claim.

Advertisers make this argument all the time, and it goes something like this comment from Linda Woolley, executive vice president of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association: “If you get rid of [personal data collection], you kill the Internet. It’s just that simple.” Advertisers claim that all the content you see online can only exist because tracking-based advertising funds it.

But according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the online advertising industry had revenue of $31.7 billion in 2011, and only about 15 percent of that, $4.9 billion, came from online behavioral advertising (OBA), ads that target consumers through personal information-powered tracking techniques and that are causing the privacy controversy.

Read the complete article at TechCrunch.

Between the NFL and Data Packets: Usain Bolt Is the Potential of Being Modular

Image source: Daily Mail

By Eduardo Navas

Note: This text was previously released on the Huffington Post on August 31, 2012.  A week before the NFl began their official season.

 

The NFL prepares for its upcoming season, and during exhibition games on television, as wide receivers go deep for spectacular catches, I cannot help but be reminded of exciting moments from the London Olympic Games, particularly in track & field — when Usain Bolt ran to take three gold medals in the the 100 m, 200 m and 4×100 m relay.

Coincidentally, there has been speculation that Bolt may transition to professional sports such as football in the NFL, although he may prefer soccer. The main reason behind his potential future in either sport is not because he is a good ball handler, in fact, the ball is hardly mentioned. What matters is that Bolt is fast.

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Not a Remix–Nor a Sampling: Why Fareed Zakaria’s Plagiarism is Unacceptable

Image: Huffpost

By Eduardo Navas

Note: This entry was updated on August 19, 2012 with an extra commentary at the end of the main text.

As an educator in higher education and researcher specializing in remix culture and authorship, when I first learned about Zakaria’s admission to plagiarism, I was very disappointed in him, and thought that there was no way around it, that his admission of plagiarizing parts of Jill Lepore‘s work on gun control written for the New Yorker puts into question his intellectual integrity.

I thought that his apology was quick and to the point, but that somehow it was not enough. I thought that it was necessary for Zakaria to come forward and explain in as much detail as possible the reasoning for his behavior. And I thought that I wasn’t alone in hoping for this to happen–that if an actual explanation was delivered, it would all serve the constructive purpose of discussing the seriousness of plagiarism with students while providing a concrete example of a public intellectual who committed such an unacceptable act.

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Old Media, stop stealing from us. Love, New Media

If you put content up online and that content is then used, without permission, by a media outlet, what kind of recompense should you expect? All those who said “nothing,” perhaps you’ll want to read about Audrey Ann Slade and Michael McKisson, both of whom managed to make old media pay up for taking advantage of new media sources.

If conventional wisdom is to be believed, something happening once may be a fluke, but when it’s happened three times, it’s officially a trend. In that case, old media should be very, very wary about where it sources its material from in the future after two separate cases where bloggers and citizen journalists have not only had their content stolen, but have managed to be reimbursed and credited with its creation after the fact.

Jim Romensko had the first of those two stories, with the tale of Michael McKisson. McKisson, who runs the Tuscon Velo site covering the bike community in Tuscon, AZ, was surprised to see footage he had shot and posted to YouTube in June show up in a news report on local station KOLD-TV – especially considering that he hadn’t known about it, or given his permission for the footage to be used, in advance

Read the complete article at Digital Trends.