By Tama Leaver, Curtin University and Emily van der Nagel, Swinburne University of Technology

Having some form of anonymity online offers many people a kind of freedom. Whether it’s used for exposing corruption or just experimenting socially online it provides a way for the content (but not its author) to be seen.

But this freedom can also easily be abused by those who use anonymity to troll, abuse or harass others, which is why Facebook has previously been opposed to “anonymity on the internet”.

So in announcing that it will allow users to log in to apps anonymously, is Facebook is taking anonymity seriously?

Real identities on Facebook

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been committed to Facebook as a site for users to have a single real identity since its beginning a decade ago as a platform to connect college students. Today, Facebook’s core business is still about connecting people with those they already know.

But there have been concerns about what personal information is revealed when people use any third-party apps on Facebook.

So this latest announcement aims to address any reluctance some users may have to sign in to third-party apps. Users will soon be able to log in to them without revealing any of their wealth of personal information.

Keeping things hidden third-party apps on Facebook. Flickr/Christoph Aigner, CC BY-NC-ND

That does not mean they will be anonymous to Facebook – the social media site will still track user activity.

It might seem like the beginning of a shift away from singular, fixed identities, but tweaking privacy settings hardly indicates that Facebook is embracing anonymity. It’s a long way from changing how third-party apps are approached to changing Facebook’s entire real-name culture.

Facebook still insists that “users provide their real names and information”, which it describes as an ongoing “commitment” users make to the platform.

Changing the Facebook experience?

Having the option to log in to third-party apps anonymously does not necessarily mean Facebook users will actually use it. Effective use of Facebook’s privacy settings depends on user knowledge and motivation, and not all users opt in.

A recent Pew Research Center report reveals that the most common strategy people use to be less visible online is to clear their cookies and browser history.

Only 14% of those interviewed said they had used a service to browse the internet anonymously. So, for most Facebook users, their experience won’t change.

Facebook login on other apps and websites

Spotify uses Facebook login. Spotify

Facebook offers users the ability to use their authenticated Facebook identity to log in to third-party web services and mobile apps. At its simplest and most appealing level, this alleviates the need for users to fill in all their details when signing up for a new app. Instead they can just click the “Log in with Facebook” button.

For online corporations whose businesses depend on building detailed user profiles to attract advertisers, authentication is a real boon. It means they know exactly what apps people are using and when they log in to them.

Automated data flows can often push information back into the authenticating service (such as the music someone is playing on Spotify turning up in their Facebook newsfeed).

While having one account to log in to a range of apps and services is certainly handy, this convenience means it’s almost impossible to tell what information is being shared.

Is Facebook just sharing your email address and full name, or is it providing your date of birth, most recent location, hometown, a full list of friends and so forth? Understandably, this again raises privacy concerns for many people.

How anonymous login works

To address these concerns, Facebook is testing anonymous login as well as a more granular approach to authentication. (It’s worth noting, neither of these changes have been made available to users yet.)

Given the long history of privacy missteps by Facebook, the new login appears to be a step forward. Users will be told what information an app is requesting, and have the option of selectively deciding which of those items Facebook should actually provide.

Facebook will also ask users whether they want to allow the app to post information to Facebook on their behalf. Significantly, this now places the onus on users to manage the way Facebook shares their information on their behalf.

The New Facebook Login

In describing anonymous login, Facebook explains that:

Sometimes people want to try out apps, but they’re not ready to share any information about themselves.

It’s certainly useful to try out apps without having to fill in and establish a full profile, but very few apps can actually operate without some sort of persistent user identity.

The implication is once a user has tested an app, to use its full functionality they’ll have to set up a profile, probably by allowing Facebook to share some of their data with the app or service.

Taking on the competition

The value of identity and anonymity are both central to the current social media war to gain user attention and loyalty.

Facebook’s anonymous login might cynically be seen as an attempt to court users who have flocked to Snapchat, an app which has anonymity built into its design from the outset.

Snapchat’s creators famously turned down a US$3 billion buyout bid from Facebook. Last week it also revealed part of its competitive plan, an updated version of Snapchat that offers seamless real-time video and text chat.

Introducing chat for Snapchat.

By default, these conversations disappear as soon as they’ve happened, but users can select important items to hold on to.

Whether competing with Snapchat, or any number of other social media services, Facebook will have to continue to consider the way identity and anonymity are valued by users. At the moment its flirting with anonymity is tokenistic at best.

The Conversation

Tama Leaver receives funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Emily van der Nagel does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

At the end of January 2014 I was delighted to participate in the Surveillance, Copyright, Privacy: The end of the open internet conference held at the University of Otago in New Zealand. It was an inspiring three days looking critically at the way privacy and surveillance are increasingly at war in contemporary culture, which the eternal bugbear of copyright continues to look large. For a sense of the conference, Rosie Overell has collated the tweets from the event in four Storify collections: day one; morning of day 2; afternoon of day 2; and day 3.

The paper I presented was entitled ‘Captured at Birth? Intimate Surveillance and Digital Legacies’. Here’s the slides and abstract:

From social media to CCTV cameras, surveillance practices have been largely normalised in contemporary cultures. While sousveillance – surveillance and self-surveillance by everyday individuals – is often situated as a viable means of subverting and making visible surveillance practices, this is premised on those being surveyed having sufficient agency to actively participate in escaping or re-directing an undesired gaze (Albrechtslund, 2008; Fernback, 2013; Mann, Nolan, & Wellman, 2002). This paper, however, considers the challenges that come with what might be termed intimate surveillance: the processes of recording, storing, manipulating and sharing information, images, video and other material gathered by loved ones, family members and close friends. Rather than considering the complex negotiations often needed between consenting adults in terms of what material can, and should, be shared about each other, this paper focuses on the unintended digital legacies created about young people, often without their consent. As Deborah Upton (2013, p. 42) has argued, for example, posting first ultrasound photographs on social media has become a ritualised and everyday part of process of visualising and sharing the unborn. For many young people, their – often publicly shared – digital legacy begins before birth. Along a similar line, a child’s early years can often be captured and shared in a variety of ways, across a range of platforms, in text, images and video. The argument put forward is not that such practices are intrinsically wrong, or wrong at all. Rather, the core issue is that so many of the discussions about privacy and surveillance put forward in recent years presume that those under surveillance have sufficient agency to at least try and do something about it. When parents and others intimately survey their children and share that material – almost always with the very best intentions – they often do so without any explicit consideration of the privacy, rights or (likely unintended) digital legacy such practices create. A legacy which young people will have to, at some point, wrestle with, especially in a digital landscape increasingly driven by ‘real names’ policies (Zoonen, 2013). Inverting the overused media moral panic about young people’s sharing practices on social media, this paper argues that young people should be more concerned about the quite possibly inescapable legacy their parents’ documenting and sharing practices will create. Ensuring that intimate surveillance is an informed practice, better educational resources and social media literacy practices are needed for new parents and others responsible for managing the digital legacies of others.

References

Albrechtslund, A. (2008). Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance. First Monday, 13(3). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2142/1949

Fernback, J. (2013). Sousveillance: Communities of resistance to the surveillance environment. Telematics and Informatics, 30(1), 11–21. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2012.03.003

Lupton, D. (2013). The Social Worlds of the Unborn. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Mann, S., Nolan, J., & Wellman, B. (2002). Sousveillance: Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices for Data Collection in Surveillance Environments. Surveillance & Society, 1(3), 331–355.

Zoonen, L. van. (2013). From identity to identification: fixating the fragmented self. Media, Culture & Society, 35(1), 44–51. doi:10.1177/0163443712464557

For me the trip to Dunedin had the added bonus of spending some time visiting family and reacquainting myself after far too long away with the beautiful city I was born in.

Last week, as the inaugural paper in CCAT’s new seminar series Adventures in Culture in Technology (ACAT), I presented a more in depth, although still in progress, talk based on a paper I’m finishing on Facebook and the questions of birth and death. Here’s the slides along with recorded audio if you’re interested:

The talk abstract: While social media services including the behemoth Facebook with over a billion users, promote and encourage the ongoing creation, maintenance and performance of an active online self, complete with agency, every act of communication is also recorded. Indeed, the recordings made by other people about ourselves can reveal more than we actively and consciously chose to reveal about ourselves. The way people influence the identity and legacy of others is particularly pronounced when we consider birth – how parents and others ‘create’ an individual online before that young person has any identity in their online identity construction – and at death, when a person ceases to have agency altogether and becomes exclusively a recorded and encoded data construct. This seminar explores the limits and implications for agency, identity and data personhood in the age of Facebook.

Links through February 23rd:

  • Nielsen Agrees to Expand Definition of TV Viewing [The Hollywood Reporter] – Nielsen ratings reflect that online TV ratings are growing and matter: “The Nielsen Co. is expanding its definition of television and will introduce a comprehensive plan to capture all video viewing including broadband and Xbox and iPads … By September 2013, when the next TV season begins, Nielsen expects to have in place new hardware and software tools in the nearly 23,000 TV homes it samples. Those measurement systems will capture viewership not just from the 75 percent of homes that rely on cable, satellite and over the air broadcasts but also viewing via devices that deliver video from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, from so-called over-the-top services and from TV enabled game systems like the X-Box and PlayStation. While some use of iPads and other tablets that receive broadband in the home will be included in the first phase of measurement improvements, a second phase is envisioned to include such devices in a more comprehensive fashion.”
  • Billboard and Nielsen Add YouTube Video Streaming to Platforms [Billboard] – The Billboard music charts in the US finally adapt to include online activity, including YouTube streaming data, and suddenly Baauer’s meme-tastic ‘Harlem Shake’ debuts at the top of the Billboard chart! The ratings, they are a-changing.
  • Why I’m Done Posting Photos of My Kid On Facebook [Chicago Now] – Short but well written piece on why parents should be more careful about what photos etc they share of their kids online. Author calls parents “online guardians”. “We all want to believe that Facebook takes parents’ concerns about privacy seriously. But the truth is that Facebook is a publicly traded company that cares first and foremost about making its shareholders happy. We have no idea how far it will go to do so, especially since the company is not extraordinarily profitable right now. But what we do know is that Facebook is pushing our boundaries now, often, to see just how much of our privacy we’re willing to give away.”
  • Instagram users begin fightback against stolen photos [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Solid piece on the challenges of photos from Instagram (and the web in general) being used by others without permission. Copyright, theft, credit and ethics all get a mention, but the short version is: if copyright is understood on the web (often it’s not), it’s often not respected whatsoever. For the Instagram examples, I can only image this will get worse, not better, with Instagram moving more solidly onto the web proper, not just mobile devices.
  • Introducing Your Instagram Feed on the Web [Instagram Blog] – Furthering their shift to looking more and more like parent-company Facebook, Instagram have expanded the web presence associated with each username, allowing the liking, commenting and exploring of the people you follow on Instagram without use of a mobile device. The only thing you can’t do is upload an image from the web (yet).
  • Coming and Going on Facebook [Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] – “Two-thirds of online American adults (67%) are Facebook users, making Facebook the dominant social networking site in this country. And new findings from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project indicate there is considerable fluidity in the Facebook user population: * 61% of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more. * 20% of the online adults who do not currently use Facebook say they once used the site but no longer do so. * 8% of online adults who do not currently use Facebook are interested in becoming Facebook users in the future.”

Links for December 18th through December 22nd:

  • From Grumpy Cat to Gangnam Style: The Best Memes of 2012 [Wired.com] – 2012 was a big year for memes, from McKayla Is Not Impressed to Texts From Hillary. And Gangnam Style …
  • Gangnam Style Makes YouTube History: First Video to Hit 1 Billion Views [YouTube Blog] – Gangnam Style the first YouTube video to clock one billion views! “A million views? You know what’s cool? A billion views. Today, a 34-year-old K-Pop artist made online video history when his viral video, Gangnam Style, smashed our records and became the first video ever to reach one billion views. Yup, that’s right one BILLION views! PSY’s success is a great testament to the universal appeal of catchy music– and er, great equine dance moves. In the past, music distribution was mostly regional. It was more difficult to learn about great artists from around the world. But with a global platform at their fingertips, people are now discovering and sharing amazing music from all over the planet, by artists like Brazilian Michel Teló and Belgian-Australian Gotye.”
  • Your Twitter archive [Twitter Blog] – Twitter finally rolls out – for everyone – the ability to download your entire Twitter archive: “Today, we’re introducing the ability to download your Twitter archive, so you’ll get all your Tweets (including Retweets) going back to the beginning. Once you have your Twitter archive, you can view your Tweets by month, or search your archive to find Tweets with certain words, phrases, hashtags or @usernames. You can even engage with your old Tweets just as you would with current ones. Go to Settings and scroll down to the bottom to check for the option to request your Twitter archive. If you do see it, go ahead and click the button. You’ll receive an email with instructions on how to access your archive when it’s ready for you to download.”
  • i-am-cc.org – Free your Instagram photos with a Creative Commons license! – That’s a clever idea: an explicit tool for adding a Creative Commons license to your Instagram photos, and for finding Instagram photos which have Creative Commons licenses.
  • Germany orders changes to Facebook real name policy [BBC News] – “A German data protection body has ordered Facebook to end its policy of making members use their real names. The policy violates German laws that give people the right to use pseudonyms online, said the data protection agency in Schleswig-Holstein. The agency has issued a decree demanding that Facebook let people use fake names immediately. Facebook said it would fight the decree “vigorously” and that its naming policy met European data protection rules. “It is unacceptable that a US portal like Facebook violates German data protection law unopposed and with no prospect of an end,” said Thilo Weichert, head of the regional data protection office in Schleswig Holstein, in a statement. … The decree issued by the Schleswig Holstein office was “without merit” a Facebook spokeswoman told tech news site IT World adding that it planned to fight the order.”
  • Coming Soon: Nielsen Twitter TV Rating [Twitter Blog] – The second screen just got serious: “Today Nielsen announced an agreement with Twitter to create the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating,” an industry-standard metric that is based entirely on Twitter data.  As the experience of TV viewing continues to evolve, our TV partners have consistently asked for one common benchmark from which to measure the engagement of their programming. This new metric is intended to answer that request, and to act as a complement and companion to the Nielsen TV rating. You can read more about the news on Nielsen’s site here. Ultimately, we have one goal for this new metric: to make watching TV with Twitter even better for you, the TV fan. I look forward to sharing more about this effort in the months to come.”

Links through to December 17th:

  • The Web We Lost [Anil Dash] – Spot on: “Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and the rest are great sites, and they give their users a lot of value. … But they’re based on a few assumptions that aren’t necessarily correct. The primary fallacy that underpins many of their mistakes is that user flexibility and control necessarily lead to a user experience complexity that hurts growth. And the second, more grave fallacy, is the thinking that exerting extreme control over users is the best way to maximize the profitability and sustainability of their networks. The first step to disabusing them of this notion is for the people creating the next generation of social applications to learn a little bit of history, to know your shit, whether that’s about Twitter’s business model or Google’s social features or anything else. We have to know what’s been tried and failed, what good ideas were simply ahead of their time, and what opportunities have been lost in the current generation of dominant social networks.”
  • False Posts on Facebook Undermine Its Credibility [NYTimes.com] – A reminder that Facebook’s battle against fake accounts is all about the authenticity the SELL ADVERTISERS: “For the world’s largest social network, it is an especially acute problem, because it calls into question its basic premise. Facebook has sought to distinguish itself as a place for real identity on the Web. As the company tells its users: “Facebook is a community where people use their real identities.” It goes on to advise: “The name you use should be your real name as it would be listed on your credit card, student ID, etc.” Fraudulent “likes” damage the trust of advertisers, who want clicks from real people they can sell to and whom Facebook now relies on to make money. Fakery also can ruin the credibility of search results for the social search engine that Facebook says it is building. … The research firm Gartner estimates that while less than 4 percent of all social media interactions are false today, that figure could rise to over 10 percent by 2014.”
  • Android overtakes iOS in Australian usage [Ausdroid] – December 2012: “Android has been growing globally at an extremely rapid rate with statistics from November indicating that Android currently enjoys a 75% market share. In Australia this year over 67% of Smart Phone sales were Android handsets and now research analysis firm Telsyte is advising that market penetration of Android devices in Australia has finally overtaken iOS with Android now on 44% of the 10 Million mobile phones currently in use here. iOS still enjoys a 43% market share …”
  • Social Media Report 2012 [Nielsen] – Nielsen’s Social Media Report 2012 provides statistical evidence of the trends for 2012, which shows the internet use, mobile use and social networking time are all up. A third of people engaging in social networking “from the bathroom”!
  • Text messaging turns 20 [Technology | The Observer] – “Long ago, back before Twitter, way before Facebook, in a time when people still lifted a receiver to make a call and telephone boxes graced streets where people didn’t lock their doors, Neil Papworth, a software programmer from Reading, sent an early festive greeting to a mate. “Since mobile phones didn’t yet have keyboards, I typed the message out on a PC. It read ‘Merry Christmas’ and I sent it to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone, who was enjoying his office Christmas party at the time,” said Papworth. On 3 December 1992, he had sent the world’s first text message. Text messaging turns 20 tomorrow. More than 8 trillion were sent last year. Around 15 million leave our mobile screens every minute. There is now text poetry, text adverts and text prayers (dad@hvn, 4giv r sins) and an entire generation that’s SMS savvy. Last week saw the first major act of the text watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, in fining two men £440,000 over spam texts.”

Links for September 24th through September 25th:

  • Disruptions and dividends: a fast broadband Australia [ABC] – A fantastic speech from the ABC's Managing Director Mark Scott, given in September 2012, highlighting the challenges and opportunities the public broadcaster faces in the era of broadband and digital distribution. Scott sees the huge amount of time-shifted streaming of children's television as a harbinger of a future driven by immediacy, while the recent move to make episodes of Doctor Who available online (on iView) the second they finish in the UK signals the only way to answer online piracy: provide a better and easier service.
  • Creepshots and revenge porn: how paparazzi culture affects women [The Guardian] – Disturbing but well-written piece on 'creepshots' and the broader cultural context in which they exist: "… we arguably all live in a paparazzi culture now. Cameras are ubiquitous, as is the technology to share and publicise pictures instantly. The throb of surveillance plays out in different ways. On the more benign side are the mild nerves many people feel when an email pops up to tell them they have been tagged in a Facebook photo, an image that could be from any moment in their life – recent or historical – now public, and open for comments. But it also plays out in more insidious ways. This includes the creepshot websites, and others where people collect images of ordinary women they have culled from around the internet."
  • Facebook Suspends Facial Recognition in Europe [Wall Street Journal] – "Facebook has voluntarily switched off its facial recognition service in Europe following a privacy audit by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC). The company says it wants to reinstate the feature once a form of consent can be found that meets the guidelines."
  • Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea’s Music Video Sensation [The Atlantic] – "Park Jaesang is an unlikely poster boy for South Korea's youth-obsessed, highly lucrative, and famously vacuous pop music. Park, who performs as Psy (short for psycho), is a relatively ancient 34, has been busted for marijuana and for avoiding the country's mandatory military service, and is not particularly good-looking. His first album got him fined for "inappropriate content" and the second was banned. He's mainstream in the way that South Korea's monolithically corporate media demands of its stars, who typically appear regularly on TV variety and even game shows, but as a harlequin, a performer known for his parodies, outrageous costumes, and jokey concerts. Still, there's a long history of fools and court jesters as society's most cutting social critics, and he might be one of them. […] Gangnam is a tony Seoul neighborhood, and Park's "Gangnam Style" video lampoons its self-importance and ostentatious wealth, with Psy playing a clownish caricature of a Gangnam man."

Links – catching up – through to May 7th:

  • YouTube’s content explosion: 60 hours of video every minute [Online Video News] – ““More video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than the 3 major US TV networks created in 60 years.” Hunter Walk, YouTube Director of Product Management, Google in a tweet. Google told TechCrunch Monday that YouTube users now upload 60 hours of video every minute.” (That’s almost 10 years of content uploaded each day. Wowzers!)
  • Angry Birds maker Rovio reports £60.8m revenues for 2011 [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Angry Birds has generated hundreds of millions of downloads for Finnish mobile games firm Rovio Entertainment, but the company’s financial results for 2011 reveal just how lucrative the franchise was that year. The company has reported total revenues of €75.4m (£60.8m) for 2011, with earnings before tax of €48m (£38.7m). 30% of Rovio’s revenues for the year came from its consumer products business, which includes merchandising and licensing income. Rovio says that the total number of Angry Birds game downloads reached 648m by the end of 2011, with 200m monthly active users (MAUs) across all platforms. As context for that figure, social games publisher Zynga had 21m MAUs at the end of March 2012, while also acquiring US developer OMGPOP, whose Draw Something mobile game currently has 33.9m MAUs.
  • Angry Birds Space rockets to 50m downloads in 35 days [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Angry Birds Space, the latest mobile game from Finnish developer Rovio, has reached the 50m downloads mark just 35 days after its release on 22 March. The publisher claims on its blog that this makes its tile “the fastest growing mobile game yet”, beating all previous records for the Angry Birds series. The announcement may be a deliberate reminder to challengers like Draw Something of the scale of Angry Birds. Draw Something was released on 1 February, notched up 35m downloads in its first seven weeks – yes, a similar time period to that required for Rovio’s new milestone – and was promptly acquired by Zynga for $180m. Draw Something passed 50m downloads in early April, while another recently-released game, Temple Run, is also past that milestone. “While numbers like this certainly say something about the popularity of Angry Birds, for us the main goal is to keep creating fun new experiences that everybody can enjoy,” explains Rovio on its blog.”
  • London 2012: Olympic photo ban ‘unenforceable’ [BBC News] – “Olympic bosses have admitted their ban on spectators posting videos and images on websites will be unenforceable. In the terms and conditions of ticket purchases for the London 2012 Games it states ticket holders cannot publish images, video or sound online. However, Sir Keith Mills, deputy chairman of organisers Locog, said “we live in an internet world… and there’s not much we can do about it”. He said a “common sense approach” would be used to protect media rights. Spectators will be able to watch many events, including the cycle road race, triathlon and marathon, without a ticket. But the ticket conditions as they currently stand prohibit ticket holders from posting photos and personal footage of the Olympics on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”
  • British ISPs forced to block The Pirate Bay [WA Today] – “Britain’s High Court has ordered the country’s internet service providers to block file-sharing website The Pirate Bay. A High Court judge told Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media to prevent access to the Swedish site, which helps millions of people download copyrighted music, movies and computer games. Music industry group BPI welcomed the order by justice Richard Arnold that the service providers block the site within the next few weeks. BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said sites like The Pirate Bay “destroy jobs in the U.K. and undermine investment in new British artists.” The service providers said they would comply with the order. A sixth provider, BT, has been given several weeks to consider its position, but BPI said it expected BT would also block the website. Providers who refuse could find themselves in breach of a court order, which can carry a large fine or jail time.”
  • Google Drive- Google’s cloud storage drive – the GDrive or Google Drive – has arrived, offering 5Gb for free, with the option to upgrade storage to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or 1TB for $49.99/month. While Google’s entry is a late entry to the cloud storage arena, the integration with Google’s other products, and Android in particular, will probably see the GDrive rapidly rise in popularity.
  • Man jailed over nude Facebook photos [WA Today] – “A jilted boyfriend who put nude pictures of his former lover on Facebook has been sentenced to six months jail – a landmark social media-related conviction for Australia and one of just a handful in the world. Ravshan ”Ronnie” Usmanov told police: ”I put the photos up because she hurt me and it was the only thing [I had] to hurt her.” … Privacy experts say Usmanov’s case has exposed the ”tip of the iceberg” of online offences that are rarely punished.
    In sentencing the 20-year-old, NSW Deputy-Chief Magistrate Jane Mottley said she was ”deterring both the offender and the community generally from committing similar crimes”. ”New-age technology through Facebook gives instant access to the world … Incalculable damage can be done to a person’s reputation by the irresponsible posting of information through that medium. With its popularity and potential for real harm, there is a genuine need to ensure the use of this medium to commit offences of this type is deterred,”.”
  • The Filtered Network – Mark Zuckerberg of facebook buying Instagram for $1 BILLION [YouTube] – Fun remix of the trailer for The Social Network, playing with the question of what exactly Facebook purchased for a billion dollars!
  • Introducing Facebook Offers [YouTube] – Facebook Offers = Facebook’s answer to Scoopon.
  • 4% Of Children On Facebook Are Under 6 Years [AllFacebook] – I’m a bit suspicious of these statistics since they’re generated by a company that markets tools allowing parents to monitor the social networking of their kids, but the numbers certainly warrant attention: “Kids are learning to use computers at ever younger ages, and some are figuring out how to lie about their age to access Facebook. The site has a minimum age requirement of 13, yet four percent of children using the site are under age six. That’s the most startling statistic in the infographic compiled by Minor Monitor, one of the newer entrants into the already crowded market for surveiling kids’ activity online. According to the vendor, barely half of parents use technology to keep a digital eye on children, despite worries about sexual predators and bullying.”
  • Google+ redesigns and says 100m of its 170m users used it in past 30 days [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Google says 170m people have registered for its Google+ service since it was launched 10 months ago – and that 100m have “engaged” with the service at least once in the past 30 days and 50m have engaged with the service at least once a day in the past month.”

Links for through to February 15th:

  • Westpac in Facebook crackdown [The Age] – A case-study in how mis-manage community relations on Facebook: “WESTPAC is censoring criticism on social media sites amid growing public fury over its decision to retrench staff and raise interest rates independently of the Reserve Bank of Australia. Negative comments posted on Westpac’s Facebook page over the past week have been deleted within minutes, which has prompted accusations of a ”propaganda campaign” by the bank. But Westpac has defended the practice, claiming that ”partisan views” could deter customers from researching its financial products on social media sites.”
  • Anger for Path Social Network After Privacy Breach [NYTimes.com] – “Last week, Arun Thampi, a programmer in Singapore, discovered that the mobile social network Path was surreptitiously copying address book information from users’ iPhones without notifying them. David Morin, Path’s voluble chief executive, quickly commented on Mr. Thampi’s blog that Path’s actions were an “industry best practice.” He then became uncharacteristically quiet as the Internet disagreed and erupted in outrage.[…] Mr. Morin eventually did bow to pressure with an earnest apology on the company’s blog. He said that Path would begin asking for permission before grabbing address books and that the company would destroy the data collected. […] At Mr. Morin’s last job at Facebook, his boss Mark Zuckerberg apologized publicly more than 10 times for privacy breaches. It seems the management philosophy of “ask for forgiveness, not permission” is becoming the “industry best practice.” And based on the response to Mr. Morin, tech executives are even lauded for it.”
  • Lessons from Path and Pinterest: Tell users everything [GigaOm] – “Path and Pinterest are probably two of the hottest social services right now, racking up millions of users and generating an ocean of favorable coverage. But both have gotten tripped up by the same thing that has made the social web a minefield for both Facebook and Google: namely, decisions that put their interests ahead of their users and a lack of disclosure about what was going on behind the scenes or under the hood of their services. Will these missteps spell doom for either company? Probably not. But the backlash is a welcome reminder that for social apps, the trust of users is not something to be toyed with. Path, a mobile photo-sharing app that expanded to become a full-fledged mobile social app when it relaunched a couple of months ago, was co-founded and is run by Dave Morin, an early Facebook staffer.”
  • Amazon Publishing bookshop boycott grows [Books | guardian.co.uk] – “The cold war between north American booksellers and Amazon has hotted up this week, with the booksellers joining together to announce that they will not be selling any of the titles published by the online retailer. The opening salvo was fired last week by America’s biggest book chain Barnes & Noble, when it announced that it would not be stocking Amazon Publishing’s books. The website publishes a large range of titles, with imprints covering everything from romance to thrillers, and major authors including Deepak Chopra and self-help guru Timothy Ferriss. “Our decision is based on Amazon’s continued push for exclusivity with publishers, agents and the authors they represent,” said Jaime Carey, chief merchandising officer, in a statement.”
  • Over 3 years later, “deleted” Facebook photos are still online [Ars Technica] – Despite the issue being raised over 3 years ago, Facebook still does not immediately (or even quickly) remove deleted photos from Facebook. While the ability to access these photos is removed, the photo itself can linger on for years, still accessible to anyone who has the direct link. When asked, once again, when this would be fixed, Facebook have commented that they’ve almost moved to a new system that should delete photos within 45 days. That’s still a long time after the remove button is pressed!
  • How Much Can a Celebrity Make for Tweeting? [NY Mag] – “The weirdest thing about the rumor that Kim Kardashian gets paid $10,000 for a Twitter endorsement is that it’s true. (She recently plugged ShoeDazzle.com*, for instance.) The biggest player in the pay-to-tweet market is Ad.ly, a social-media advertorial clearinghouse pairing brands with celebs to inject highly personalized advertising into their Twitter streams.
    The pay rate for endorsing companies like Old Navy, Toyota, Best Buy, and American Airlines is determined by the size of a celeb’s following and how that group responds to his tweets with shares and retweets. On that sliding scale, Snoop Dogg (6.3 million followers) is in the top tier of payments, on the upside of $8,000 apiece, while Paula Abdul (2.2 million followers) falls somewhere in the middle, in the $5,000-each range, and Whitney Port (800,000 followers) falls in the bottom tier, making around $2,500 per tweet.”
  • What if Facebook Timeline was read instead of your CV? [guardian.co.uk] – If the thought irks you, make sure your privacy settings are set appropriately on Facebook as Timeline rolls out: “It’s all change at Facebook in the next few weeks as its timeline feature is rolled out to all users – whether they want it or not. This will make it easier for people to dig into your past from your homepage in an unprecedented manner. Pull up someone’s profile with Timeline enabled and you can scroll back through their entire Facebook history. Click on a year (say, 2008) and you can see everything they did in those 12 months, including status updates, photos, and wall posts.[…] Does this matter from an employment point of view? Well, yes it does. Numerous surveys have shown that employers are using Facebook and other social media sites to vet job applicants. In January 2010, a survey for Careerbuilder.co.uk found that more than half of employers used social networking sites to research job candidates.”
  • Man charged over YouTube driving [News.com.au] – “A P-PLATE driver who posted video of his antics on YouTube faces eight dangerous driving charges and losing his car forever.
    The 22-year-old from Kadina, on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, has had his Holden Commodore impounded for 28 days, police said today. He was nabbed after footage of his alleged driving offences was uploaded to YouTube and police learned about his alleged behaviour on roads near Kadina. “
  • Twitter Is a Critical Tool in Republican Campaigns [NYTimes.com] – “When Newt Gingrich said in a recent debate that he was a man of “grandiose” ideas, Mitt Romney’s campaign pounced. It sent mocking Twitter messages with a hashtag, “#grandiosenewt”, encouraging voters to add their own examples of occasions when they felt Mr. Gingrich had been “grandiose.” Within minutes, the hashtag was trending on Twitter. Reporters picked up on it, sending out their own Twitter posts and writing their own articles. The result: for at least one news cycle, the Romney campaign had stamped a virtual “grandiose” on Mr. Gingrich’s forehead. If the 2008 presidential race embraced a 24/7 news cycle, four years later politicos are finding themselves in the middle of an election most starkly defined by Twitter, complete with 24-second news cycles and pithy bursts. With 100 million active users, more than 10 times as many as in the 2008 election, Twitter has emerged as a critical tool for political campaigns, allowing them to reach voters, gather data and respond …”
  • Google CEO Larry Page: Identity Is A ‘Deep, Deep Part Of What We’re Doing’ [Huffington Post] – “Watch out: Google is getting personal. CEO Larry Page emphasized that Google is determined to deliver online experiences tailored to each individual’s interests and social circles, an ambitious goal that requires the web giant to learn even more about its users’ preferences and personal information. “Engaging with users, really deeply understanding who they are, and delivering things that make sense for them is really, really important. We’re at the early stages of that and Google+ is a big effort,” said Page during an earnings call Thursday. “This notion of identity is a deep, deep part of what we’re doing and an example of how we can make all our products better by understanding people.” Though Google already knows a great deal about the people who use its services, from what YouTube videos they’ve watched to whom they email most on Gmail, the web giant still lusts after the treasure trove of personal data Facebook has accumulated over the past eight years …”
  • Google Will Start Country-Specific Censorship for Blogs – “Google figured out Twitter‘s trick for avoiding universally censoring content weeks ago, but it managed to go unnoticed — for a while. That is, until TechDows wrote about Blogger‘s plan for country-specific URLs Tuesday. At some point “over the coming weeks,” Google’s Blogger will begin redirecting users to country-specific domain names — think Google.fr in France rather than Google.com — to avoid universally removing content that would not be tolerated in specific jurisdictions. A Blogger support post, “Why does my blog redirect to a country-specific URL?,” last updated Jan. 9, explains that Google is using the method to limit the impact of censored content. Readers will be redirected to sites with their own country’s domain name when they try to visit blogs recognized as foreign, as determined by their IP addresses. If you would like to see a non-affected page, you can direct to google.com/ncr (NCR stands for “no country redirect”) …”
  • Twitter uncloaks a year’s worth of DMCA takedown notices, 4,410 in all [Ars Technica] – “On almost any given day, Twitter receives a handful of requests to delete tweets that link to pirated versions of copyrighted content—and quickly complies by erasing the offending tweets from its site. That fact itself is probably unsurprising to people familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown process, which gives sites like Twitter a “safe harbor” against lawsuits related to user behavior and uploads—so long as the sites don’t knowingly tolerate pirated material or links to such material. But Twitter has taken the unusual step of making DMCA takedown notices public, in partnership with Chilling Effects, a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several universities. […] Scrolling through recent takedown notices, you’ll see names like Magnolia Pictures, Simon and Schuster, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, among those of many other media companies.”
  • Tweets still must flow [Twitter Blog] – Twitter starts blocking tweets nationally: “As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content. Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why. We haven’t yet used this ability, but if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld.”
  • Google Will Start Country-Specific Censorship for Blogs – “Google figured out Twitter‘s trick for avoiding universally censoring content weeks ago, but it managed to go unnoticed — for a while. That is, until TechDows wrote about Blogger‘s plan for country-specific URLs Tuesday. At some point “over the coming weeks,” Google’s Blogger will begin redirecting users to country-specific domain names — think Google.fr in France rather than Google.com — to avoid universally removing content that would not be tolerated in specific jurisdictions. A Blogger support post, “Why does my blog redirect to a country-specific URL?,” last updated Jan. 9, explains that Google is using the method to limit the impact of censored content. Readers will be redirected to sites with their own country’s domain name when they try to visit blogs recognized as foreign, as determined by their IP addresses. If you would like to see a non-affected page, you can direct to google.com/ncr (NCR stands for “no country redirect”) …”
  • Man charged over YouTube driving [News.com.au] – “A P-PLATE driver who posted video of his antics on YouTube faces eight dangerous driving charges and losing his car forever.
    The 22-year-old from Kadina, on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, has had his Holden Commodore impounded for 28 days, police said today. He was nabbed after footage of his alleged driving offences was uploaded to YouTube and police learned about his alleged behaviour on roads near Kadina. “
  • What if Facebook Timeline was read instead of your CV? [guardian.co.uk] – If the thought irks you, make sure your privacy settings are set appropriately on Facebook as Timeline rolls out: “It’s all change at Facebook in the next few weeks as its timeline feature is rolled out to all users – whether they want it or not. This will make it easier for people to dig into your past from your homepage in an unprecedented manner. Pull up someone’s profile with Timeline enabled and you can scroll back through their entire Facebook history. Click on a year (say, 2008) and you can see everything they did in those 12 months, including status updates, photos, and wall posts.[…] Does this matter from an employment point of view? Well, yes it does. Numerous surveys have shown that employers are using Facebook and other social media sites to vet job applicants. In January 2010, a survey for Careerbuilder.co.uk found that more than half of employers used social networking sites to research job candidates.”
  • Angry Birds boss: ‘Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business’ [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Rovio Mobile learned from the music industry’s mistakes when deciding how to deal with piracy of its Angry Birds games and merchandise, chief executive Mikael Hed told the Midem conference in Cannes this morning. “We have some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products. There is tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products,” said Hed. “We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy.” Hed explained that Rovio sees it as “futile” to pursue pirates through the courts, except in cases where it feels the products they are selling are harmful to the Angry Birds brand, or ripping off its fans. When that’s not the case, Rovio sees it as a way to attract more fans, even if it is not making money from the products. “Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day.””

Links for January 25th through January 30th:

  • Twitter Is a Critical Tool in Republican Campaigns [NYTimes.com] – “When Newt Gingrich said in a recent debate that he was a man of “grandiose” ideas, Mitt Romney’s campaign pounced. It sent mocking Twitter messages with a hashtag, “#grandiosenewt”, encouraging voters to add their own examples of occasions when they felt Mr. Gingrich had been “grandiose.” Within minutes, the hashtag was trending on Twitter. Reporters picked up on it, sending out their own Twitter posts and writing their own articles. The result: for at least one news cycle, the Romney campaign had stamped a virtual “grandiose” on Mr. Gingrich’s forehead. If the 2008 presidential race embraced a 24/7 news cycle, four years later politicos are finding themselves in the middle of an election most starkly defined by Twitter, complete with 24-second news cycles and pithy bursts. With 100 million active users, more than 10 times as many as in the 2008 election, Twitter has emerged as a critical tool for political campaigns, allowing them to reach voters, gather data and respond …”
  • Google CEO Larry Page: Identity Is A ‘Deep, Deep Part Of What We’re Doing’ [Huffington Post] – “Watch out: Google is getting personal. CEO Larry Page emphasized that Google is determined to deliver online experiences tailored to each individual’s interests and social circles, an ambitious goal that requires the web giant to learn even more about its users’ preferences and personal information. “Engaging with users, really deeply understanding who they are, and delivering things that make sense for them is really, really important. We’re at the early stages of that and Google+ is a big effort,” said Page during an earnings call Thursday. “This notion of identity is a deep, deep part of what we’re doing and an example of how we can make all our products better by understanding people.” Though Google already knows a great deal about the people who use its services, from what YouTube videos they’ve watched to whom they email most on Gmail, the web giant still lusts after the treasure trove of personal data Facebook has accumulated over the past eight years …”
  • Twitter uncloaks a year’s worth of DMCA takedown notices, 4,410 in all [Ars Technica] – “On almost any given day, Twitter receives a handful of requests to delete tweets that link to pirated versions of copyrighted content—and quickly complies by erasing the offending tweets from its site. That fact itself is probably unsurprising to people familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown process, which gives sites like Twitter a “safe harbor” against lawsuits related to user behavior and uploads—so long as the sites don’t knowingly tolerate pirated material or links to such material. But Twitter has taken the unusual step of making DMCA takedown notices public, in partnership with Chilling Effects, a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several universities. […] Scrolling through recent takedown notices, you’ll see names like Magnolia Pictures, Simon and Schuster, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, among those of many other media companies.”
  • Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China [NYTimes.com] – Long and important piece which looks at the poor working conditions in some of the factories which assemble and supply the parts for Apple’s most popular products. It balances the enormous profits Apple makes with the human cost which have, in some cases, led to worker suicide.
  • MPAA Wins the Oscar Screener Battle, but Loses the War [Epicenter | Wired.com] – “Every year, the MPAA tries desperately to stop Oscar screeners — the review copies sent to Academy voters — from leaking online. And every year, teenage boys battling for street cred always seem to defeat whatever obstacles Hollywood throws at them. For the last 10 years, I’ve tracked the online distribution of Oscar-nominated films, going back to 2003. Using a number of sources (see below for methodology), I’ve compiled a massive spreadsheet, now updated to include 310 films. This year, for the first time, I’m calling it: The MPAA is winning the battle to stop screener leaks. A record 37 films were nominated this year, and the studios sent out screeners for all but four of them. But, so far, only eight of those 33 screeners have leaked online, a record low that continues the downward trend from last year. They may be winning the battle, but they’ve lost the war. While screeners declined in popularity, 34 of the nominated films (92 percent) were leaked online by nomination day …”
  • Tweets still must flow [Twitter Blog] – Twitter starts blocking tweets nationally: “As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content. Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why. We haven’t yet used this ability, but if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld.”
  • No More Résumés, Say Some Firms [WSJ.com] – “Union Square Ventures recently posted an opening for an investment analyst. Instead of asking for résumés, the New York venture-capital firm—which has invested in Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga and other technology companies—asked applicants to send links representing their “Web presence,” such as a Twitter account or Tumblr blog. Applicants also had to submit short videos demonstrating their interest in the position. Union Square says its process nets better-quality candidates —especially for a venture-capital operation that invests heavily in the Internet and social-media—and the firm plans to use it going forward to fill analyst positions and other jobs. Companies are increasingly relying on social networks such as LinkedIn, video profiles and online quizzes to gauge candidates’ suitability for a job. While most still request a résumé as part of the application package, some are bypassing the staid requirement altogether.”
  • Online echo chambers: A study of 250 million Facebook users reveals the Web isn’t as polarized as we thought. – Slate Magazine – A large-scale controlled study of Facebook users and their sharing habits suggests that far from an echo chamber (our social networks reinforcing the views and interests of our strong ties), Facebook users appear to get as much information from their weak ties (ie not as good friends/acquaintances) and thus suggesting social networks introduce diversity of information and perspectives. [Read Eytan Bakshy’s Rethinking Information Diversity in Networks]