Facebook released its much-feared commenting solution, reports ReadWriteWeb. The idea made big news earlier this year, despite the fact that Facebook has already offered a commenting solution for more than a year, but today the company has announced the feature officially. So what’s new? There are a number of features for both publishers and users, although some of the most exciting features we’ve seen displayed on Facebook late last year don’t appear to be a part of the release. Is Facebook’s massive social graph enough to push it into the default slot for comments, where it already resides for things like social sharing and third-party login?…Read More
The latest Facebook privacy fiasco shows that the world’s largest online social hub is having a hard time putting this thorny issue behind it even as it continues to attract users and become indispensible to many of them, the Associated Press reports. The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 18 that several popular Facebook applications have been transmitting users’ personal identifying information to dozens of advertising and internet tracking companies. Facebook said it is working to fix the problem, and was quick to point out that the leaks were not intentional, but a consequence of basic web mechanisms. “In most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work,” said Mike Vernal, a Facebook engineer, in a blog post on Oct. 18. In a statement, Facebook said there is “no evidence that any personal information was misused or even collected as a result of this issue.” Even so, some privacy advocates said it’s problematic that the information was leaked at all, regardless of what happened to it. Facebook needs its users to trust it with their data because if they don’t, they won’t use the site to share as much as they do now……Read More
A close look at college students’ reaction to Facebook privacy policies revealed concern about online identities as news outlets pushed the issue to the forefront with increasing coverage in 2009 and 2010, according to a report released this month.
Eszter Hargittai, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s communication studies department, and Danah Boyd, a researcher for Microsoft Research and a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, found that most Facebook members altered their privacy settings in the past year while privacy advocates railed against gaps in the social media site’s identification security.
Hargittai and Boyd based their report on a survey of University of Illinois Chicago students conducted during the 2008-09 academic year and the 2009-10 school year. The researchers had a response rate of 45 percent among more than 1,000 students surveyed. The researchers’ report is published in the journal First Monday.…Read More
Facebook is rolling out a new feature that requires outside applications and web sites to tell users exactly what parts of their profiles have to be shared for the apps to work, reports the Associated Press. Applications already had to ask users for permission to access anything in their profiles that wasn’t public. But these services didn’t have to specify what information they were using, such as eMail addresses, birthdays, or photos. Under the new policy, the services will say which aspects of a profile they will mine, but the user still won’t be able to pick out which pieces they want to grant access to. They have to either grant permission for all uses or disallow the app from working. The change is part of Facebook’s cooperation with Canada’ privacy commissioner, who has been among the sharpest critics of the company’s privacy policies. The world’s largest online social network has come under fire for the way it treats the information its nearly 500 million users post on the site. Most recently, privacy advocates and lawmakers have complained about Facebook’s “instant personalization” feature, which draws information from users’ profiles to customize a handful of other sites. In response, Facebook simplified its privacy settings in changes unveiled last month—though some critics still say these changes don’t go far enough……Read More
Facebook’s new privacy changes haven’t been enough to satisfy its most vocal critics, CNET reports. A group of privacy activist groups said in a joint conference call on May 27 that they’re hardly ready to declare a truce, even after Facebook simplified its privacy settings for users—including slicing the number of settings from 50 to around 15 and consolidating seven pages of choices into three pages. Most, if not all, of the groups on the call have been lobbying for new government rules targeting social-networking sites. The Federal Trade Commission is considering just that, with an announcement expected late this year, and related legislation is being drafted in the House of Representatives. “We want legislation to address this massive and stealth data collection that has emerged,” said Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, adding that he wants “opt-in” instead of “opt-out” data sharing. In an interview with CNET, Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt rejected that argument: “I’d say that our efforts to educate our users have been pretty unprecedented. We required more than 350 million users to go through a process that required them to check their privacy settings.”…Read More
In Facebook’s vision of the web, users no longer would be alone and anonymous. Sites would reflect users’ tastes and interests—as expressed on the online social network—and users wouldn’t have to fish around for news and songs that interest them.
Standing in the way, however, is growing concern about privacy from Facebook users, a large percentage of whom are high school and college-age students. Most recently, users have complained that the site forced them to share personal details with the rest of the online world or have them removed from Facebook profiles altogether.
Responding to users’ concerns, Facebook on May 26 announced that it’s simplifying its privacy controls and applying them retroactively, so users can protect the status updates and photos they have posted in the past.…Read More
A developer that’s trying to highlight the dangers of forgetting about personal privacy has unveiled a new service that shows how easy it is for users to have their phone numbers acquired by Facebook visitors, the Los Angeles Times reports. The service, called Evil, sifts through Facebook groups to find posts left by users that include their phone numbers. It then displays the person’s name and all but the last three digits of their phone numbers on the site. The issue, according to Tom Scott, the tool’s creator, is that there are a slew of Facebook groups that are created each day by folks who lose their phones and need their friends’ numbers back. Rather than e-mail each person individually, those people create groups where users can simply post their numbers to the group’s wall. From there, the group owner can take the numbers and put them into their new phone.…Read More
The site that functions as one big popularity contest looks a little unpopular today. After a series of changes that eroded its users’ privacy, Facebook has been getting smacked around in public, the Washington Post reports. A Wired blog post declared the widely-used social network “Gone Rogue.” A team of programmers looking to develop an open alternative to Facebook quickly raised tens of thousands of dollars from strangers. A series of bold-face names in technology have canceled their Facebook accounts. I am neither terribly surprised about this nor too sympathetic for Facebook. The Palo Alto, Calif., company has earned this scorn. First, consider the changes it’s imposed on its users. One turns many parts of your personal profile–your city, employer, hobbies and so on–into public links unless you remove that information. Another change can expose your endorsements of links at various sites, this one included, with a click of Facebook’s increasingly-ubiquitous “Like” button. (Note that my first posts on these changes failed to capture their privacy implications.) A third, “Instant Personalization,” shares some of your data, without your advance permission, with other sites……Read More
A major security flaw in Facebook’s privacy settings has heightened a feeling among many users that it was becoming hard to trust the service to protect their personal information, the New York Times reports. On May 5, users discovered a glitch that gave them access to supposedly private information in the accounts of their Facebook friends, like chat conversations. Not long before, Facebook had introduced changes that essentially forced users to choose between making information about their interests available to anyone or removing it altogether. Although Facebook quickly moved to close the security hole, the breach heightened a feeling among many users that it was becoming hard to trust the service to protect their personal information. “Facebook has become more scary than fun,” said Jeffrey P. Ament, 35, a government contractor who lives in Rockville, Md. Facebook is increasingly finding itself at the center of a tense discussion over privacy and how personal data is used by the web sites that collect it, said James E. Katz, a professor of communications at Rutgers University. “It’s clear that we keep discovering new boundaries of privacy that are possible to push and just as quickly breached,” Katz said……Read More