facebook privacy Tag

Facebook Introduces Privacy Updates via Cartoon Dinosaur

Picture 5-29-2014Considering the frequency that social network privacy comes under scrutiny in the media, it’s important to companies like Facebook that they make privacy settings more accessible and easily understood by their user base. Last month, Facebook introduced a pop-up function featuring a little cartoon dinosaur that was intended to help guide users of Facebook that haven’t adjusted their privacy settings. The overall intention is to make changing one’s privacy settings easier and more straightforward.

When they announced the beginning of these changes back in April, Facebook admitted that many of their users were confused about privacy in general, which is why they decided to introduce more on-screen explanations for their users who might need a little bit of additional help. The company mentioned that they do 80 trillion privacy checks per day and run thousands of surveys about privacy every day, in order to better find ways to ensure the safety of their users’ information. These surveys have led to some changes already, regarding the privacy of Cover photos, resharing content, and what status updates are shown to which groups of friends.

Most recently, Facebook made even more changes to privacy settings, including finally setting the default visibility of status updates and photos from ‘public’ to ‘friends only’. The new updates will also add a Privacy Checkup, which will allow users to review and confirm their privacy settings in order to ensure that the information they are sharing on Facebook is only able to be seen by who users want to see it. With Facebook’s friendly cartoon privacy dinosaur along for the ride, Facebook users should be able to set their privacy settings much more easily than they have been able to in the past.

Deleting the Past: Teenagers and Social Networks

Picture 4-24-2014Social networks have long been associated with youths, as the younger generations tend to be the ones who pick up on new Internet trends and phenomena before adults fully grasp the concepts. Even though Facebook has recently seen its first decrease in teenage users, as they drift towards newer social networks and applications like Snapchat, there is still a very heavy presence of youths and teenagers using social networks. Even LinkedIn recently opened its user base up by allowing students over the age of thirteen to create their own pages.

Because of their heavy usage of social networks and their teenage mindsets, it’s unsurprising that it has become quite common for teenagers to post information that they might later regret online. Sometimes these might be pictures of themselves wearing not enough clothing or statuses referring to their partying and underage alcohol consumption. Many people believe that these mistakes and indiscretions shouldn’t follow them throughout the rest of their lives and make it more difficult for them to get a job or get into college.

For this reason, California enacted a law last year that will give children under the age of 18 the legal right to delete anything they post online. Though most mainstream social networks such as Facebook and Twitter already allow their users to delete posts, this law will require any social media websites to provide the option for minors to delete anything that they have posted. Because most major social networks already provide this, some news sources see this law as unnecessary and unrealistic considering users cannot delete posts that other people have made about them, and believe that it will need to further evolve before it can become worthwhile.

Facebook Wants to Let Your Friends Know Where You Are

Picture 4-18-2014Facebook’s most recent updates to its user interface have focused specifically on letting your Facebook friends know where you are or where you are going to be. First, Facebook started with the launch of their “traveling to” feature, which allows users to mark where they are traveling to so that all of their Facebook friends can see. Though right now, the feature simply allows for an accompanying emoji, some news sources believe that Facebook will eventually use this to alter the interface of your Facebook when you are in a different city. For instance, if you marked that you were going to New York, your News Feed might be more focused on the posts of your friends in New York. Facebook has not made any announcements like this just yet, but it does seem like the next logical step.

In addition to the “traveling to” feature, Facebook’s next big update has been with the “Nearby Friends” feature. This feature ties in with the fact that most Facebook users are connecting through their mobile phone app, and smartphones these days are generally connected to GPS. Facebook has decided to merge these two concepts into the “Nearby Friends” feature, which — if you choose — will allow your Facebook friends to see where you are at all times.

The Nearby Friends feature is not turned on by default, so those who want to protect their privacy (or otherwise don’t want their Facebook friends to know where they are) can refrain from using the new feature. Facebook users can choose whether they want to share their general location with all of their Facebook friends, close friends, or a specific list of people. Your location can only be shared with other users who have opted in to the Nearby Friends feature who have also chosen to share their location with you.

Facebook users can be alerted when their friends are nearby, which happens in real-time, to differentiate it from the manual check-in feature that was already available with Facebook. There is even a precise location function that allows you and a specific friend to view each other’s exact map locations for a certain period of time, which can be used to help find a friend in a crowd or if you’re both trying to navigate a city’s streets to find one another. This isn’t the first time a feature like this has been included with a social network, as similar functions have been available with Google Latitude and Foursquare. However, Facebook is well-known for constantly finding new ways for their users to connect, so there is a lot of potential available with the Nearby Friends feature.

The Evolution of Social Network Security

Picture 3-20-2014There’s an odd conflict in the world of social networks regarding privacy. Although social networks tend to be an arena for users to share information with everyone that they know, no matter if these are truly friends or mere acquaintances, the overall privacy of these social network profiles is constantly a hot-button issue. People want to be able to share private information with other Facebook users that they befriended after meeting them once in a bar, but are up in arms if that same information is accessible by strangers or the government. Though this split is a little bit silly in some ways, there are some genuine concerns to be had here and it is generally believed that Facebook and other social networks are doing what they can to protect what their users might consider private information.

The fact of the matter is that social networks are ripe for security breaches. Considering many social network users do not think about if the information or pictures they are posting might be made public, it has not been difficult for hackers (or even government agents) to access potentially damning information about social network users. The NSA has been confirmed to use fake Facebook servers to install malware on computers so that they have an easier time monitoring unsuspecting social network users.

It’s not just Facebook that’s been ripe for privacy breaches. Twitter and Snapchat have had issues with leaked usernames and passwords, which Snapchat responded to at the beginning of the year with privacy updates to its iOS and Android apps. It has been stated that Snapchat has added internal restrictions that make it more difficult for hackers to access private information such as usernames and passwords and Snapchat has also added security features allowing Snapchat users to opt out of the ‘Find Friends’ feature that uses their cell phone number.

Facebook has recently made their work on security a little bit more public so that Facebook users can see exactly what is being done in order to keep their own information private from hackers, government agents, and anyone else that might try to breach security. Some, however, do not trust Facebook regarding its relationship with privacy, and believe that Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp will lead to a lack of privacy in the popular messaging application as well.

One social networking and messaging application, Wickr, is already well-known for its impressive security and encryption features. The company has found a way to monetize their ‘Security Suite’ by offering it for sale to other social networks that wish to implement the level of privacy that is currently offered by Wickr, which has never sold user data or allowed any user data to be accessed by others. Wickr’s ‘Security Suite’ could be the wave of the future when it comes to social networking privacy.

Personal Data from Millions of Facebook Accounts Published in Torrent

Up until recently, concerns over Facebook’s privacy settings and policies have been largely hypothetical, but that all changed today when Ron Bowes, an internet security consultant, uploaded a torrent to the web with personal information on 100 million users. Facebook has come under severe scrutiny in recent months for holes in their privacy settings and policies, and this recent divulgence of data exemplifies the amount of personal information that many Facebook accounts make readily available.

It should be noted that Bowes simply used information that was already open to the public by only including searchable Facebook profiles. So the information in his list could be acquired through a simple search engine query. The purpose of releasing the information was to raise people’s awareness of how much personal information they make available online, Bowes said.

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Facebook Expounds Privacy Policy Changes

It took all of two days for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to make good on his promise of simplifying Facebook’s privacy settings. Unlike many companies who have come under public scrutiny as of late—BP, Goldman Sachs and Toyota, just to name a few—Facebook moved quickly and decisively to address the concerns of their constituency. The new settings were unveiled at a presentation held today at the company’s headquarters and will provide users with what the company had originally intended: a straightforward, user-friendly means for Facebook members to control the dissemination of their personal information. The changes will take a couple of weeks to be implemented, but here is a brief overview of what you can expect:

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Facebook CEO Addresses Privacy Concerns

Last week we reported on the public outcry following changes to Facebook’s privacy policy, and as they have been in the past, Facebook was quick to address the issue. After Congress sent a letter to the company in response to numerous complaints, Facebook executives met last week to begin discussing the issue. Following a report from the Wall Street Journal, which expounded loopholes in the company’s privacy policy, Facebook announced it would be making changes to the privacy policy and settings in the near future. In addition, in today’s op-ed section of the Washington Post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered many questions concerning the site’s privacy policies and settings.

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