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How do you watch without being watched on social networking sites? Sriya Narayanan on overcoming problems relating to privacy in the tangled web.

The World Wide Web is an icky place. Unlike the physical universe (that has limited room for garbage), cyberspace keeps track of everything we say and do, simply because it can. The good news is we already know. The bad news is we sometimes forget.

Ever Googled yourself and felt mortified at the report card that showed up in a nanosecond? If yes, the lesson to be learnt is embarrassingly simple — don’t sign a petition addressed to Robert Pattinson titled “Puncture my neck and bless me with eternal romance”. And if you must, use a fake name. Despite the Internet’s supposed ‘watch without being watched’ quality, most websites, particularly the social networking variety, have diabolical ways to track our movements and display them to hundreds of chuckling strangers. Last year, Facebookers were distraught when a pair of binoculars showed up on their friends’ profiles. The tell-tale application (called Who’s Watching You) listed everyone who had visited their profiles in the recent past and displayed their faces in a giant collage. Even cautious Twitter users who opt for ‘protected updates’ can be re-tweeted by their followers to an audience they’ve never met.

Because of how fast technology evolves, it’s impossible to anticipate what virtual skeletons will tumble out of the computer screen. Privacy settings have mind-numbing jargon and when you’re trying to instal software in a hurry, the ten-page disclaimer is better left unread. The real problem is how easily the Internet can “pick up” information and store it elsewhere, rendering you powerless. While things can’t be unsaid in real life either, the online world files things away publicly under your name, with a time stamp to boot. Once the ‘post’ button has been pressed, it’s no use deleting the comment, deactivating your account and wiping off your fingerprints from the keyboard with a damp cloth. That random rant written in a fit of boredom is like the great undead that will come to life at every chance. And thanks to the trail of virtual breadcrumbs, anyone can find anyone else. This has mixed results. You might rediscover a childhood companion or find yourself staring at friend requests from the gang who made high school hell.

Internet-enabled reunions inevitably end with the formation or revival of an e-group. If the moderators are not careful, the group ends up with default settings that make emails publicly visible. A conversation thread with mobile numbers, meeting places and other personal details begins, and all it takes is one search for the string to unravel much to the delight of identity thieves and stalkers.

Fix-it technologies are hard to come by. There are dozens of tricks and strategies that need to be learnt, with no guaranteed results. Even an ancient blog post that was purged from the archives long ago could magically reappear in another listing, sprouting sentences that look only vaguely familiar. At times like this, there’s not much else to do except sit back and hope that the offending website that someone started in his mother’s basement runs out of funding and shuts down.  

DAMAGE CONTROL 101

1. Gmail goggles: Turn on Mail Goggles before heading out for drinks. The feature, which is a hit with party animals, prevents you from sending out reckless declarations of love or hatred. It makes you do some math before allowing you to hit ‘send’. Can’t do the math? You’ll need to log off and return tomorrow.

2. Message Recall: Some office mail applications have this option but it only works if the message hasn’t been read yet and if the recipient lets you recall it.

3. Facebook faux pas: Did your friend upload an unflattering photo of you and ignore requests to delete it? Click on ‘remove tag’. It will still be online but won’t show up in your list.

4. No comments: If you made a comment on a public forum and there’s no delete option, change your display name so it doesn’t show up in search results for your real name.

5, Confidential chat: On Google chat, select “Go off the record” to prevent chats from being saved and reproduced.

by

SRIYA NARAYANAN

Courtesy: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/internet/article816336.ece

Filed under: Online safety Tips, , ,

The ups and downs of social networks

Facebook has announced that it now has 500m active users, just six years after it was launched. The site has become the poster child of social networking on the web. While some others have seen growth, MySpace, Flickr and Bebo appear to have declined in the past year, according to these figures from Nielsen. Interesting international variations are seen, both in the amount of time Facebook users spend on the site each month and in the competing networks’ popularity in different countries.

Graphic showing Facebook's size in comparison to other social 
networking sites

Courtesy: BBC Technology http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10719042

Filed under: Snippets, ,

5 Easy Steps to Stay Safe (and Private!) on Facebook

by Sarah Perez

September 16, 2009

Courtesy: http://www.readwriteweb.com/

 

When the President of the United States warns schoolchildren to watch what they say and do on Facebook, you know that we’ve got a problem…and it’s not one limited to the U.S.’s borders, either. People everywhere are mindlessly over-sharing on the world’s largest social network, without a second thought as to who’s reading their posts or what effect it could have on them further down the road. For example, did you know that 30% of today’s employers are using Facebook to vet potential employees prior to hiring? In today’s tough economy, the question of whether to post those embarrassing party pics could now cost you a paycheck in addition to a reputation. (Keep that in mind when tagging your friends’ photos, too, won’t you?)

But what can be done? It’s not like you can just quit Facebook, right? No – and you don’t have to either. You just need to take a few precautions.

Unbeknownst to most mainstream Facebook users, the social network actually offers a slew of privacy controls and security features which can help you batten down the hatches, so to speak. If used properly, you’ll never have to worry about whether you should friend the boss and your mom. You can friend anyone you want while comfortable in the knowledge that not everyone gets to see everything you post.

The problem in implementing these privacy options is that they’re just too confusing for most non-tech savvy people to handle. And often, folks don’t want to bother to take the time to learn. To simplify the process, we’re offering five easy steps you can take today to help make your Facebook experience safer, more secure, and more private.

Step 1: Make Friend Lists

Yes, it will take some time, especially if you’re connected to a couple hundred friends already. But this step, while not the quickest, is fairly simple. And it will be one of the most useful things you can do on Facebook.

Friend lists, like they sound, are lists for categorizing your friends into various groups. The nice thing about this feature is that once you set these lists up, you won’t have to do it again. We suggest that you put your work colleagues and professional acquaintances into a friend list designated "work," personal friends you’re not very close with into a list called "Acquaintances," and people you’re related to into a list called "Family." Those three main categories will separate out the groups of "friends" who you may want to hide some information from.

To create a friend list, click on "Friends" at the top of the Facebook homepage. In the left-hand column, click "Friends" again under the "Lists" section. Now you’ll see a button at the top that says "Create New List". Click it. In the pop-up that appears, you can name your list and pick members. If you’ve ever shared an application with your friends, the process of doing this will be very familiar.

When you’ve finished making lists, you’ll be able to use them when selecting who can see what (or who can’t!) when configuring the security settings described below.

Step 2: Who Can See What on Your Profile

At the top right of Facebook, there’s a menu that many people probably ignore: "Settings." But this menu is now going to become your best friend. To get started, hover your mouse over the Settings menu and click "Privacy Settings" from the list that appears. On the next page, click "Profile." This takes you to a page where you can configure who gets to see certain information on your profile.

Before making changes, think carefully about the sorts of things you want public and the things you want private. Should "everyone" get to see photos you’re tagged in? Or would you like to limit this only to those you’ve specifically chosen as Facebook friends?

Underneath each section on this page (basic info, personal info, status, etc.), you can designate who gets to see that particular bit of information. For anyone not using custom lists (see step 1), the best thing to enter here is "Only Friends." Anything else opens up your profile information to people you may or may not know. For example, choosing "Everyone" makes that info public, "Friends of Friends" lets your friends’ friends see it, "My Networks and Friends" opens up your info to anyone in your networks – that means anyone in your city, your high school, your college, a professional organization you listed, etc.

You can also block certain groups from seeing these sections, too. On any item that offers an "Edit Custom Settings" option, you can click that link to display a pop-up box where you can choose people or lists to block (see where it says "Except these people"). If you haven’t made custom lists as explained in step 1 above, you can enter individual names here instead. (Sorry, mom, dad, boss – this is where you get blocked.)

 

Step 3: Who Can See Your Address and Phone Number

Did you list your address and phone number on Facebook? While that’s a handy feature, you may not want everyone you friended to have this information. To access this configuration page, you follow the same steps as above in step 2 to display the Profile Privacy page. You’ll notice that the page has two tabs at the top – click on the one that reads "Contact information."

As previously described above, you can again use the drop-down lists provided to designate who gets to see what and/or block certain people or lists from viewing this information. The sections on this page include "IM Screen Name," "Mobile Phone," "Other Phone," "Current Address," "Website," and your email.

Step 4: Change Who Can Find You on Facebook via Search

Sick of getting friend requests from old high school pals? While for some the beauty of Facebook is that it lets you reconnect with everyone you ever knew throughout your life, others find this intrusive and annoying. You’re not friends with any of these people anymore for a reason, right?

As it turns out, you can still enjoy Facebook without some folks ever knowing or finding you thanks to the search privacy settings.

Click on the "Settings" menu on Facebook’s homepage and then click "Search" on the following page. You’ll be taken to a Search Privacy page where you can specify who gets to find you on Facebook. Want to be wide open? Change the "Search Visibility" drop-down box to "Everyone." Want to keep it a little more limited? Select "My Networks and Friends," "Friends of Friends," or "My Networks and Friends of Friends" instead. Don’t want anyone finding you on Facebook? Change it to "Only Friends." That means only the people who you’ve already friended can find you in a Facebook search.

On this page, you can also configure what information displays when your info is returned as a search result (e.g. your profile picture, your friend list, etc.). In addition, you can check and uncheck the boxes for network-based searches too. For example, if you don’t want anyone from high school to find you, uncheck the box next to "people in high school networks."

Step 5: Stop Sharing Personal Info with Unknown Applications

Remember when we told you about what Facebook quizzes know about you? Using Facebook’s default settings, you’re unknowingly sharing a plethora of personal information (and your friends’ info too!) with various Facebook applications and the developers who created them. The problem is so bad that the ACLU recently created their own Facebook Quiz to demonstrate how much information an app has access to.

It’s time to take back control! From the Facebook homepage, hover your mouse over the "Settings" menu and choose "Privacy Settings" from the drop-down list. On the next page, click "Applications" then click the tab that reads "Settings" which is next to the "Overview" tab. (Oh, and if you want to really be freaked out, read that overview!)

On this page, you can check and uncheck boxes next to your personal information (picture, education history, wall, religious views, etc.). This controls what the applications your friends are using can see about you. Yes, your friends’ apps can see your personal info if you don’t make this change! Believe it or not, you don’t have the same control over your own apps. The best you can do is head over to the Applications page and delete the apps you’re not using anymore. (Use the "X" to remove them.) You see, once you authorize an application, you’re telling it that it’s OK to access any information associated with your account that it requires to work. While some developers may only pull what’s actually required, many others just pull in everything they can. Scary, isn’t it?

Conclusion

While this is by no means a comprehensive guide to Facebook security and privacy, these five steps can help you get started in creating a safer, more secure, and more private environment on the social network.

However, if you choose not to take any precautions, then you’ll only have yourself to blame when an errant wall post or naughty photo makes its way online and straight into Grandma’s News Feed, or worse, your boss’s. These days, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so go ahead and delve into those settings!

Courtesy: http://www.readwriteweb.com/

Filed under: Online safety Tips, , , , ,

5 Easy Steps to Stay Safe (and Private!) on Facebook

by Sarah Perez

September 16, 2009

Courtesy: http://www.readwriteweb.com/

 

When the President of the United States warns schoolchildren to watch what they say and do on Facebook, you know that we’ve got a problem…and it’s not one limited to the U.S.’s borders, either. People everywhere are mindlessly over-sharing on the world’s largest social network, without a second thought as to who’s reading their posts or what effect it could have on them further down the road. For example, did you know that 30% of today’s employers are using Facebook to vet potential employees prior to hiring? In today’s tough economy, the question of whether to post those embarrassing party pics could now cost you a paycheck in addition to a reputation. (Keep that in mind when tagging your friends’ photos, too, won’t you?)

But what can be done? It’s not like you can just quit Facebook, right? No – and you don’t have to either. You just need to take a few precautions.

Unbeknownst to most mainstream Facebook users, the social network actually offers a slew of privacy controls and security features which can help you batten down the hatches, so to speak. If used properly, you’ll never have to worry about whether you should friend the boss and your mom. You can friend anyone you want while comfortable in the knowledge that not everyone gets to see everything you post.

The problem in implementing these privacy options is that they’re just too confusing for most non-tech savvy people to handle. And often, folks don’t want to bother to take the time to learn. To simplify the process, we’re offering five easy steps you can take today to help make your Facebook experience safer, more secure, and more private.

Step 1: Make Friend Lists

Yes, it will take some time, especially if you’re connected to a couple hundred friends already. But this step, while not the quickest, is fairly simple. And it will be one of the most useful things you can do on Facebook.

Friend lists, like they sound, are lists for categorizing your friends into various groups. The nice thing about this feature is that once you set these lists up, you won’t have to do it again. We suggest that you put your work colleagues and professional acquaintances into a friend list designated "work," personal friends you’re not very close with into a list called "Acquaintances," and people you’re related to into a list called "Family." Those three main categories will separate out the groups of "friends" who you may want to hide some information from.

To create a friend list, click on "Friends" at the top of the Facebook homepage. In the left-hand column, click "Friends" again under the "Lists" section. Now you’ll see a button at the top that says "Create New List". Click it. In the pop-up that appears, you can name your list and pick members. If you’ve ever shared an application with your friends, the process of doing this will be very familiar.

When you’ve finished making lists, you’ll be able to use them when selecting who can see what (or who can’t!) when configuring the security settings described below.

Step 2: Who Can See What on Your Profile

At the top right of Facebook, there’s a menu that many people probably ignore: "Settings." But this menu is now going to become your best friend. To get started, hover your mouse over the Settings menu and click "Privacy Settings" from the list that appears. On the next page, click "Profile." This takes you to a page where you can configure who gets to see certain information on your profile.

Before making changes, think carefully about the sorts of things you want public and the things you want private. Should "everyone" get to see photos you’re tagged in? Or would you like to limit this only to those you’ve specifically chosen as Facebook friends?

Underneath each section on this page (basic info, personal info, status, etc.), you can designate who gets to see that particular bit of information. For anyone not using custom lists (see step 1), the best thing to enter here is "Only Friends." Anything else opens up your profile information to people you may or may not know. For example, choosing "Everyone" makes that info public, "Friends of Friends" lets your friends’ friends see it, "My Networks and Friends" opens up your info to anyone in your networks – that means anyone in your city, your high school, your college, a professional organization you listed, etc.

You can also block certain groups from seeing these sections, too. On any item that offers an "Edit Custom Settings" option, you can click that link to display a pop-up box where you can choose people or lists to block (see where it says "Except these people"). If you haven’t made custom lists as explained in step 1 above, you can enter individual names here instead. (Sorry, mom, dad, boss – this is where you get blocked.)

 

Step 3: Who Can See Your Address and Phone Number

Did you list your address and phone number on Facebook? While that’s a handy feature, you may not want everyone you friended to have this information. To access this configuration page, you follow the same steps as above in step 2 to display the Profile Privacy page. You’ll notice that the page has two tabs at the top – click on the one that reads "Contact information."

As previously described above, you can again use the drop-down lists provided to designate who gets to see what and/or block certain people or lists from viewing this information. The sections on this page include "IM Screen Name," "Mobile Phone," "Other Phone," "Current Address," "Website," and your email.

Step 4: Change Who Can Find You on Facebook via Search

Sick of getting friend requests from old high school pals? While for some the beauty of Facebook is that it lets you reconnect with everyone you ever knew throughout your life, others find this intrusive and annoying. You’re not friends with any of these people anymore for a reason, right?

As it turns out, you can still enjoy Facebook without some folks ever knowing or finding you thanks to the search privacy settings.

Click on the "Settings" menu on Facebook’s homepage and then click "Search" on the following page. You’ll be taken to a Search Privacy page where you can specify who gets to find you on Facebook. Want to be wide open? Change the "Search Visibility" drop-down box to "Everyone." Want to keep it a little more limited? Select "My Networks and Friends," "Friends of Friends," or "My Networks and Friends of Friends" instead. Don’t want anyone finding you on Facebook? Change it to "Only Friends." That means only the people who you’ve already friended can find you in a Facebook search.

On this page, you can also configure what information displays when your info is returned as a search result (e.g. your profile picture, your friend list, etc.). In addition, you can check and uncheck the boxes for network-based searches too. For example, if you don’t want anyone from high school to find you, uncheck the box next to "people in high school networks."

Step 5: Stop Sharing Personal Info with Unknown Applications

Remember when we told you about what Facebook quizzes know about you? Using Facebook’s default settings, you’re unknowingly sharing a plethora of personal information (and your friends’ info too!) with various Facebook applications and the developers who created them. The problem is so bad that the ACLU recently created their own Facebook Quiz to demonstrate how much information an app has access to.

It’s time to take back control! From the Facebook homepage, hover your mouse over the "Settings" menu and choose "Privacy Settings" from the drop-down list. On the next page, click "Applications" then click the tab that reads "Settings" which is next to the "Overview" tab. (Oh, and if you want to really be freaked out, read that overview!)

On this page, you can check and uncheck boxes next to your personal information (picture, education history, wall, religious views, etc.). This controls what the applications your friends are using can see about you. Yes, your friends’ apps can see your personal info if you don’t make this change! Believe it or not, you don’t have the same control over your own apps. The best you can do is head over to the Applications page and delete the apps you’re not using anymore. (Use the "X" to remove them.) You see, once you authorize an application, you’re telling it that it’s OK to access any information associated with your account that it requires to work. While some developers may only pull what’s actually required, many others just pull in everything they can. Scary, isn’t it?

Conclusion

While this is by no means a comprehensive guide to Facebook security and privacy, these five steps can help you get started in creating a safer, more secure, and more private environment on the social network.

However, if you choose not to take any precautions, then you’ll only have yourself to blame when an errant wall post or naughty photo makes its way online and straight into Grandma’s News Feed, or worse, your boss’s. These days, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so go ahead and delve into those settings!

Courtesy: http://www.readwriteweb.com/

Filed under: Online safety Tips, , , , ,

The Father of Social Networking

image 

With Facebook, 25 year-old Mark Zuckerberg, turned a dorm-room diversion into a cultural phenomenon. His next goal? To finally turn the company profitable.

Interview with Mark Zuckerberg

Newsweek Web Exclusive

Jul 22, 2009 | Updated: 10:05  a.m. ET Jul 22, 2009

 

It’s the stuff of dotcom legend. Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg and a few friends hack into the university’s photo ID database and create a site for students to rate and/or berate their classmates’ pictures. Since Facebook’s launch in 2004, it’s become a cultural phenomenon that’s outgrown its Ivy League origins, into middle America and started to expand into countries around the world. NEWSWEEK’s Dan Lyons spoke with Zuckerberg about Facebook’s rapid growth, how it’s reshaped how we think about privacy and whether the site can get too big for its own good. Excerpts:

In just five years, Facebook has attracted 250 million members and become a huge cultural phenomenon. Could you ever have imagined this when you were starting out in your dorm room at Harvard?
Well, no. It was a really interesting time. Like a lot of college kids, we spent a lot of time talking about abstract things that interested us and how things in world would play out, about trends in technology. We were looking at all this over late-night pizza, while we were hanging out. We thought that during our lifetimes the way people negotiated their identity and their privacy would be changed. There would be a lot more information, and a lot more transparency. That was really interesting to us. At the same time we had no idea that we would build a business that would shape that in any way. I was just building something that would let me and the people around me stay in touch. But then it just kind of grew and grew. The cool irony is that now we are able to have an impact on some of those lofty things we used to discuss in our college dorm room.

Has Facebook changed our ideas about privacy?
I think social norms have evolved a bit. When we were just getting started five years ago, people were not sure whether they wanted to put anything about themselves on the Internet at all. It was more about control. People want to feel that they can put something up and can control who sees it and if they want to take it down, they can do that. By giving people that control, we enable them to share more stuff. The debate about privacy is really a debate about control. The system we’re building is one that strives to give people more control over their information.

What will Facebook look like five years from now?
Facebook will be less about Facebook.com and more about this underlying system and platform that we’re building. What we’re trying to do is be more about letting people use their information on any site or platform they want. We launched Facebook Connect last year, and we now have more than 15,000 sites using it, and that’s just a start. Within five years we hope to have hundreds of millions of  [more] people using Facebook. But it’s more about using the system to make other sites more social.

How big can Facebook get? Is there a limit on the number of members you can support? Will you reach 1 billion members?
It’s always hard to say what is the ultimate size that things can get to, but this is a pretty universal application. An application that lets people stay connected is something that a lot of people can use. But it’s very hard to predict.

As you add more users you need to keep expanding your data center, too. How can you get revenues to catch up with the growing cost of operating the site?
We’ve gone from 25 million users at about this time in 2007 to 250 million users just more than two years later. That’s been pretty crazy. We have 15 billion photos on the site, and we add a billion new photos every month. For a while we’ve had a strategy of just expanding and getting lots of people on the site. The primary value of the site is having other people on the site. A lot of people were critical of us, saying we were not focused enough on revenue and wouldn’t be able to sustain ourselves. But in reality, more users means more revenue. As we grow, we will become increasingly profitable.

What have been the biggest decisions you’ve made in the past few years?
One thing was making a site that was translated to most of the languages that people speak in the world. We built a system where users could contribute different translations and vote on the translations. The result is we’ve been able to translate into all these languages and dialects and variants. We now support languages that are spoken by 97 percent of the world.

What exactly is Facebook? How do you think of it?
I think Facebook is who people really are. We use this term the social graph, and the verb we use is mapping it out. We think the social graph exists in the world. We try to give people the ability to map out as much of their real identity as possible. We’re far from the real result. But we have a start.

What do you worry about the most?
Right now is a time when we are growing well in a lot of different ways. Our user base is expanding quickly. Our revenue is growing well. We’re doing well in recruiting, and adding some awesome people to our company. The question is how do we maintain this? How do we keep on growing? How do we have the full impact that we want to have.

One of your investors is buying shares from employees—letting them cash out early. I’ve heard you were not crazy about this. Is that true?
No, I’m really happy that people have a chance to do this. Back in the early days I had the chance during one of our funding rounds to get a bit of liquidity. It meant that in making decisions about Facebook I didn’t have to worry about the short term. I could just work on making Facebook as good as possible, and optimize it for 10 to 20 years out. To the extent that other people have the chance to do that now, it would be a healthy thing.

You really think in terms of 10 to 20 years out?
Yes, I think this is a long-term thing. There is still a lot of growth. In all these dimensions—users, advertisers—the peak is not for a long time. A lot of that is our willingness to align incentives of everyone at the company for the long term.

Filed under: In conversation, ,

Be a friend of your Library on Facebook

The library has opened a page on the Social Network Facebook.

You are getting one more channel to connect with your Library and share your ideas and feelings.

Be a friend of your library on this platform. Then invite your friends.

This is a network of “Friends of KV Pattom Library”

Come and be in touch with books,ideas and human beings.

Here to start…

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