Monday, October 18, 2010

Today seems to be “Pound on Facebook” day. Not without justification... After all, when my students “invite” me – via email, they are creating a link.

Not on Facebook? Facebook still knows you

October 17, 2010 by Dissent

And yet another concern about Facebook and privacy. This was reported by Rory Cellan-Jones earlier this week but evaded my eagle eye until now:

If you hate the idea of social networking and have never been on Facebook, then Facebook knows nothing about you. Correct? So how come when you set up a profile on the social network for the first time, it can suggest friends for you?

That was what someone who contacted me over the weekend wanted to know.

He described himself as a 30 year veteran of the IT industry who had always been deeply sceptical about social networking. But as an experiment he had set up Facebook profiles, first for himself and then, with permission, for a friend who had also never been near the network.

In each case he was presented with a list of possible friends the moment the profile was created and before there had been any response to the validation e-mail Facebook sends to confirm your e-mail address.

This he described as “really scary stuff for the whole community that do not wish to participate in Facebook social networking, since if they have not registered others can create accounts using their e-mail addresses, and get their list of friends.”

Read more on BBC.


Facebook in hot water with Germany again

October 17, 2010 by Dissent

German ministers criticised social networking site Facebook on Sunday for failing to respect privacy, following a report of a serious flaw that allowed non-subscribers access to private data.

German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that a glitch potentially allowed anyone access to the contact lists of subscribers.

New subscribers to Facebook are required to enter their email address. However, by entering the email address of an existing user, it was possible to view their full list of contacts, until they had responded to a security request.

This would potentially allow access to hundreds of names, contact details and other personal information, the newspaper reported.

Read more from AFP.


Facebook in Privacy Breach Involving Apps

October 17, 2010 by Dissent

Okay, by now any headline connecting Facebook to a privacy breach almost doesn’t seem newsworthy, but this one is big. Emily Steel and Geoffrey A. Fowler report:

Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to be completely private. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure.


The apps, ranked by research company Inside Network Inc. (based on monthly users), include Zynga Game Network Inc.’s FarmVille, with 59 million users, and Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille. Three of the top 10 apps, including FarmVille, also have been transmitting personal information about a user’s friends to outside companies.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal. It’s a solid piece of investigative journalism and if Facebook improves its privacy because of it, we all owe the WSJ a big thank you.

[From the article:

Defenders of online tracking argue that this kind of surveillance is benign because it is conducted anonymously. In this case, however, the Journal found that one data-gathering firm, RapLeaf Inc., had linked Facebook user ID information obtained from apps to its own database of Internet users, which it sells. RapLeaf also transmitted the Facebook IDs it obtained to a dozen other firms, the Journal found.

RapLeaf said that transmission was unintentional. "We didn't do it on purpose," said Joel Jewitt, vice president of business development for RapLeaf.

… Facebook prohibits app makers from transferring data about users to outside advertising and data companies, even if a user agrees. The Journal's findings shed light on the challenge of policing those rules for the 550,000 apps on its site.

… On Oct. 6, Facebook created a control panel that lets users see which apps are accessing which categories of information about them. It indicates, for example, when an application accesses a user's "basic information" (including a user ID and name). However, it doesn't detail what information friends' applications have accessed about a user.

It's not clear if developers of many of the apps transmitting Facebook ID numbers even knew that their apps were doing so. The apps were using a common Web standard, known as a "referer," which passes on the address of the last page viewed when a user clicks on a link. On Facebook and other social-networking sites, referers can expose a user's identity.

For our 'medical' students. (Requires IE and an XPS viewer)

Social Networking Guidelines for Physicians, Office Staff and Patients

By Dissent, October 18, 2010

The Healthcare IT Guy blogs:

Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA) Legal Services Group has released their Social Media Toolkit for Physicians, Office Staff and Patients to “help physicians navigate through the world of online communication”. I’ve taken a quick look and it’s a terrific document with a good discussion of whether or not physicians should “friend” their patients. It covers many other aspects of medical practice social networking risks and benefits and is worth checking out.

Could this be why we see no legal action?

DoD Study Contradicts Charges Against WikiLeaks

Posted by samzenpus on Sunday October 17, @03:35PM

"Last Summer, after WikiLeaks released 90,000 leaked internal US military documents in their Afghan War Log, Pentagon officials went on a media offensive against WikiLeaks, accusing it of having the 'blood on Its hands' of American soldiers and Afghan collaborators who are named in the documents. The charge has echoed through the mainstream media (and Internet comment threads) ever since. Now, CNN is reporting that after a thorough Pentagon review, 'WikiLeaks did not disclose any sensitive intelligence sources or methods, the Department of Defense concluded.' And, according to an unnamed NATO official, 'there has been no indication' that any Afghans who have collaborated with the NATO occupation have been harmed as a result of the leaks. Will the Pentagon's contradiction of the charges against WikiLeaks get as much play in the media as those original accusations did?"

Sometimes it's hard to undo that voodoo we do.

October 17, 2010

Ruling Imperils Production of Genetically Modified Sugar Beets

WSJ: "U.S. sugar production will be cut by about 20% if farmers are banned from planting genetically modified beets next year, according to data prepared for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a court case over whether to continue allowing the practice. Genetically modified beets have come to account for 95% of the U.S. sugar-beet crop in the five years since they were approved by the Agriculture Department. But in August, a judge threw out the USDA's initial approval for the use of genetically modified seeds, saying it hadn't done enough research into the environmental impact. The department says the studies the judge required will take about two years. That triggered concerns there wouldn't be enough traditional sugar-beet seeds for next spring's planting season, as many seed producers had switched to genetically modified varieties. It takes about two years to produce seeds. Sugar beets, from which sugar is processed, will account for about 60% of domestic U.S. production."

Golly gosh. You can make money blogging?

The 10 Most Valuable Blogs in America

1st :: Gawker Properties

Valuation: $240 million

The Gawker network of sites, controlled by founder Nick Denton, includes Gawker, Deadspin, Jezebel, Jalopnik, Gizomodo, Lifehacker, and several others. Gawker claims that its combined sites have just over 20 million unique visitors per month. Audience-research firms do not give any reason to suspect that these figures are inflated; they may in fact be low. The sites have about 235 million page views per month, and CPMs average $19 per page. This puts the company’s annual revenue at $53.6 million. Gawker pays many writers based on their production and keeps relatively inexpensive office operations. The company’s flagship site only has a dozen or so writers and editors. Operating costs are about 55% of revenue. The content of the sites and their aggressive editorial approach make it an unlikely M&A target.

There are some interesting start-ups out there, and a few that could change the way I teach (or at lest, the way I test)

TWS2010 Showcases 10 Promising Israeli Startups

Kryon Systems develops software called ‘Leo’ which provides actionable help. For example, say you’re working on an Excel sheet and want to merge cells. Instead of just looking it up in the help section, you would type it into Leo’s floating help bar which would offer to do it for you. You would then see the mouse move and perform the necessary actions.

Sparkeo is a learning platform that lets experts create and sell interactive video courses over the web in minutes. Sparkeo targets ‘experts’ in any field with the promise of making additional income while transferring their knowledge.

Webydo is a Design Management System (DMS) that transforms Photoshop PSD files to functional websites with no knowledge of HTML or CSS. Using drag-and-drop only, the platform outputs W3C compliant, cross-browser validated code with pixel by pixel accuracy.

It couldn't hurt to evaluate this and pass it around...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Own Your Space - Online Safety Ebook for Teens

Own Your Space is a free, sixteen chapter ebook designed to educate tweens and teens about protecting themselves and their stuff online. This ebook isn't a fluffy, general overview book. Each chapter goes into great detail explaining the technical threats that students' computers face online as well as the personal threats to data that students can face online. For example, in the first chapter students learn about different types of malware and the importance of installing security patches to prevent malware infections. The fourteenth chapter explains the differences between secured and unsecured wireless networks, the potential dangers of an unsecured network, and how to lock-down a network. Download the whole book or individual chapters here.

No comments: