Reclaim your Privacy on Facebook using a Simple Bookmarklet

20 05 2010

Of all social networking sites, Facebook causes the greatest privacy concerns. Certainly since it has changed its privacy options over time.

In the beginning, Facebook restricted the visibility of a user’s personal information to just their friends and their “network”, but the default privacy settings have become much more permissive, as you can see in the video below.
This short video is based on a visualization made by Matt McKeon and gives only an impression of a work-in-progress
(for up to date info check the original animation at http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/).

The reason? According Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg the controversial new default and permanent settings just reflect the way the world has changed, becoming more public and less private (see ReadWriteWeb).

“Default” is the key to the problems. You have to opt out to protect your privacy. However to fully protect your privacy on Facebook, you have to navigate through 50 settings with more than 170 options (see great charts at the NY Times!). Facebook’s privacy policy is longer than the American constitution!!!

Shocked by the results of the ACLU’s Facebook Quiz (see Mashable), I already changed my privacy settings last summer. Doing a simple quiz on Facebook meant everything on your profile (whether you use privacy settings or not), is available to the quiz. Even more worrying, when your friends do a quiz, everything on your profile is made available to the developers as well.

Since the default privacy settings have changed, my settings needed to be adapted again. But where were the leaks in the 170 options?

Luckily there is a very simple bookmarklet Reclaim Privacy that can check and fix your profile in 2 minutes (see Mashable.com) It is very easy.

1. First go to Reclaim Privacy and drag the bookmarklet to your web browser bookmarks bar
(in the example I dragged the bookmarklet into Chrome’s bookmarks (upper arrow)

2. Go to your Facebook privacy settings and then click that bookmark (Scan for Privacy, see arrow) once you are on Facebook.

3. You will see a series of privacy scans that inspect your privacy settings and warn you about settings that might be unexpectedly public.
In my case my friends could still accidentally share my personal information. This is indicated by a red sign: “insecure.

4. So I clicked “prevent friends from sharing your data”, and in seconds this was the result:

5. I tweaked the contact information a bit (caution) by changing my contact settings, but I still would allow everyone to add me as a friend (I still have to approve, don’t I?)

Piece of cake!





Packrati.us = Twitter + Delicious = Useful + Simple

18 03 2010

To me, Twitter is an essential source for information. It is an easy way to keep updated in my field, it is fast and it is an ideal networking site to build relationships. Without it I wouldn’t have ‘met’ so many excellent and interesting people. In fact those people are my living filter to the Twitter noise (see previous post): I only follow people with whom I share the same interest (at least in some respects). Twitter also is one of my inspirational sources for blogging, and vice versa it is an outlet for my blog posts.

Unfortunately, Twitter has one shortcoming: Tweets are volatile. Twitter is designed to catch conversations real time. Therefore it is not easy to “keep” Tweets or read them later. Usually your tweets get lost after 7 to 10 days and cease to be found by  Twitter Search. Some tweets can still be Googled, but that is not a secure way of keeping tweets.

At least I safeguard my favorited tweets by taking a RSS to my favs (yellow starred in Fig).

But this is just a way to conserve your favorite tweets for a (more) prolonged time.

What you also would like is to “archive” the URLs of the actual pages that seem interesting (the red http links in the tweets).

I used Google Notebook for that. That was near perfect: the free online Google application allowed saving and organizing clips of information (via a Firefox add-on) while online (see Wikipedia). The information was saved to “notebooks” that could be made “public” and automatically fed into Twitter to share with others. It was easy tracing articles back by searching or browsing.

But that is no more. Google decided to drop the development of Google Notebook. In addition, several of of my notebooks  were flagged as violating Program Policies?!

I tried Evernote as an alternative, but it could never win my heart. Too time-consuming, for one thing.

I may not have tried hard enough, but testing tools is not my job. I ‘m just looking for tools/ways that make my live in the web 2.0 world easy. The tools must be easy to understand and easy to use.

A new tool Packrati.us. (http://packrati.us/) seems to meet all my needs in this respect. A week ago, I read about it in a Tech Crunch paper entitled:  Packrati.us: A Dead Simple Way To Make Delicious Bookmark The Links You Tweet. Dead simple that was what I needed!

Packrati.us is a simple bookmarking service. Once you register, they follow your Twitter feed, and whenever one of your tweets contains URLs, they are added to your Delicious.com bookmarks.

So, for instance I retweeted @amcunningham and @jrbtrip, who link to an interesting article regarding bias in dissemination & publication of research. The link is a shortened URL.

When I visit My Delicious (http://delicious.com/) via an add-on in Firefox, I see that the link is automatically saved in Delicious.

The bookmark shows

  1. the link to the URL (title),
  2. the number of people bookmarking the link,
  3. the actual tweet mentioned in notes (more notes can be added),
  4. the extended url,
  5. an automatic tag (packrati.us) chosen to indicate that this bookmark is automatically imported from Twitter and other tags that I manually added to facilitate retrieval.

When you click on the link you go to the actual article. I can always find the bookmark when I search for tags like bias

The following links can be automatically loaded into Delicious:

  • Links in your tweets and retweets (tweets you resend)
  • Links in tweets directed to you (send by others)
  • Links in your favorited tweets (!) (quite new)

You can choose to:

  • Expand the URLs that have been shortened with an URL shortening service
  • Replace existing bookmarks (no duplication, old tags are kept.
  • Not convert hashtags from tweets to tags for the bookmarks (default = tagging hashtags)
  • Exclude tweets with specific tags (new)
  • Exlude tweets from a selection of sources
  • Add the sender of the tweet (other than yourself)

Packrati.us is under continuous development, some features have just been added. I love the new feature that favorited tweets can be kept (alas it doesn’t work retrospectively, so the above favs are not included).

In practice you can get a lot of bookmarks if you tweet/favorite a lot. It is good to exclude some tweets beforehand and imo necessary to prune the tweets afterwards and add tags. Otherwise it becomes a (disorderly) mess.

Although Packrati.us links only Twitter and Delicious, you can use each platform separately. I also use Delicious to manually add bookmarks of websites I like. Yes, thanks to Packrati.us I learned to love delicious again.





#SillySaturday #17 – Social Media Stats per Second

13 02 2010
more about “Garys Social Media Count“, posted with vodpod

Some time ago I saw the above Real Time Social Media Stats Counter at Heidi Allen Online (see here), the blog of Heidi Allen. The live stats meter is actually from Gary Hayes at Personalize Media (see post: Garys Social Media Count).

You can find the embed code at Gary Hayes post. I used the above Vodpod video, because WordPress won’t allow flash.

Yesterday, I saw a similar stats counter (in Dutch) at the excellent Dutch Education Blog  Trendmatcher tussen ICT en Onderwijs (see here) of @trendmatcher (Willem Karrsenberg). Willem saw these real time stats presented in a powerpoint presentation by Toine Maes, director of  “Kennisnet” (~”Knowledge network”). Later he asked Toine how he managed to get these dynamic stats in his slide. Of course it is great to show such a slide in a class room, or at other occasions.

At his blog Willem explains what it takes to make a slide with real life counters yourself. You need the Cortona 3D viewer (download here), that can be embedded in a browser or in Powerpoint. And you need the definition file with the actual formulas.  He made an example of a presentation and has made all files public (download here).

For people (like me) who find this all too complicated he made a simple one minute Flickr-video (FF) you can use instead. I converted this again to a Vodpod video, which easily picks up the embed code (Add-on in FireFox) and can be directly imported into WordPress.

Willem  notes that he doesn’t know if the actual figures are correct. Bas Jonkers of Kennislink commented that the numbers are based on recent data, mostly from indirect sources. With the Cortona 3D viewer you can see the updated data here

Gary Hayes at Personalize Media shares his sources at his blog. The dates are less recent because his post dates from September 2009, but he will update the data from time to time.

For instance:

  • 20 hours of video uploaded every minute onto YouTube (source YouTube blog Aug 09)
  • Facebook 600k new members per day, and photos, videos per month, 700mill & 4 mill respectively (source Inside Facebook Feb 09)
  • Twitter 18 million new users per year & 4 million tweets sent daily (source TechCrunch Apr 09)
  • 900 000 blogs posts put up every day (source Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2008)
  • UPDATE: YouTube 1Billion watched per day SMH (2009)- counter updated!
  • Flickr has 73 million visitors a month who upload 700 million photos (source Yahoo Mar 09)
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Google docs as a way to publish spam!!

7 06 2008

I just learned how to use Google docs for sharing and publishing documents. Yesterday I received an email-invitation by someone unfamiliar to share a Google-doc. The doc was called Spoetnik X document, where Spoetnik X is a fellow course member.

I took a look, but the doc was weird, with pictures of X all over the place, pictures of other people as well & funny text (codes, links?) in between. I recognized X’s picture, seen it somewhere on the web. On top of the post it said in RED with huge letters:

The document owner is not allowing collaborators to invite other people.

Meanwhile a commercial site had visited my blog consulting the same page twice. A page with one comment …made by X!
Dotcom entered my page by searching for X’s g-mail and dotcom left by the link to X’s page……

When I revisited the Google Doc some time later, the number of obscure cooperators had increased.
X had become one of them.

This did it. I tried to reach X in vain and deleted the doc.

Now I could be wrong, maybe it was just a joke. So I googled: google docs spam.

The result: almost 5.000.000 hits, most of them warning “Google Docs Being Used for Spam“. Apparently it is an easy way to circumvent spam filters.

Today I contacted the commercial site and they promised to check if their webforum had been misused.

Earlier I wrote that G-mail was vulnerable to spam. But it seems that more Google apps are at risk.

According to Wikipedia a weak point of Google apps is Cross-site_scripting

Want to read more? Here is an excerpt from VNU-net, written by Robert Jacques on June 3th!

Spammers exploit Google Docs
Cyber-crooks turn to mainstream hosted services

[.....] Spammers are instead moving towards the exploitation of free mainstream hosted services such as Google Docs, Google Calendar and Microsoft SkyDrive.

“The savvy and accurate cyber-criminals of today seem to have abandoned the attachments tactic that was so innovative in late 2007 and are exploiting free hosted applications which have become mainstream in 2008,” said Mark Sunner, chief security analyst at MessageLabs.

“The spammers are taking advantage of the fact that these services are free, provide ample bandwidth and are rarely blacklisted.

“This is one more addition to the growing list of ways in which the spammers have succeeded in outsmarting traditional detection devices.”

MessageLabs intercepted spam emails in May which contained links to spam contained in documents hosted on the Google Docs environment.

Traditional spam filters do not block links to the Google Docs domain, and spammers are using this to their advantage and even tracking their success through Google Analytics [....]

Or read this interview at: http://news.cnet.com/8301-10789_3-9951535-57.html

—————

NL flag NL vlag

Gedurende de Spoetnik cursus had ik net kennis gemaakt met Google docs. Heel handig om documenten te delen en te publiceren. Toen ik gisteren een doc kreeg met de naam van een Spoetnikcollega keek ik wel een beetje raar op. Ik kende de afzender niet, maar ja namen van blogs en gmails stroken vaak niet geheel met elkaar. Dus ik dacht, is misschien wel een document om X mee te verassen.

Ik ging maar eens kijken, maar het doc zag er vreemd uit, tig keer de foto van X en ook wat andere foto’s eronder, met onder elke foto een naam en 1 & 2, 3&4 etc en vreemde teksten, mogelijk links. Ik waagde me er maar niet aan. Bovenaan stond in rode koeieletters:

The document owner is not allowing collaborators to invite other people.

Bijna tegelijkertijd had ik in de sitemeter gezien dat een dotcom site mijn blog had bezocht en wel 2x dezelfde pagina met daarop maar 1 commentaar: die van X. Op mijn pagina was te zien dat die persoon had gezocht op gmail X en mijn blog verlaten had via een link naar X’s pagina.

Toen ik later nog eens naar het Google Doc ging kijken was het aantal onbekende samenwerkers toegenomen. X stond er zelf trouwens ook bij.

Dit deed de deur dicht. Nadat ik X vergeefs had proberen te bereiken, verwijderde ik het doc.

Of was ik paranoide? Misschien was het gewoon een grapje. Even checken op Google: google docs spam.

Huuu, bijna 5 miljoen hits, bijna allen waarschuwden ze ervoor dat Google Docs als spam gebruikt kunnen worden. Het is nl een hele mooie manier om spamfilters te omzeilen en om de links (na publicatie) heel effectief te verspreiden.

Ik heb wel met de commerciele site gemaild en kreeg direct antwoord dat ze vreesden dat iemand hun webforum had misbruikt. Ze zouden het proberen uit te zoeken.

Eerder had ik al gemeld dat spammers de beveiliging van G-mail gekraakt hadden. Nu blijkt dat alle Google-apps kwetsbaar zijn.

Volgens Wikipedia is een zwak punt van Google apps het zgn “Cross-site_scripting” (je hoeft niet steeds opnieuw in te loggen in een nieuwe applicatie, je bent dus semi-permanent ingelogd)

meer lezen:

1. VNU-net, Robert Jacques (3 juni 2008)! :Spammers exploit Google Docs. Cyber-crooks turn to mainstream hosted services (zie fragment hierboven)

2. http://news.cnet.com/8301-10789_3-9951535-57.html (interview)

3. En een possibly related (nederlandse) post die wel relevant lijkt (van 23 dingen)

Nou ik ga dus nog voorzichtiger worden.





MLA 2008 – Poster Session I – Tour

22 05 2008

A singing and swinging start of the MLA-2008.

Take a tour of the 5/18/2008 poster session……

See many interesting posters, subjects, people … at a glance.

Tastes like more…. Hawaii, next year?

more about “MLA 2008 – Poster Session I – Tour“, posted with vodpod

Video made by one of the official MLA bloggers, David Rothman (http://davidrothman.net/)

Directly posted to my blog via Vodpod, a new button I installed last night (hope it works, if not, try the original video on David Rothman’s blog-post or on vimeo.








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