Instagram has been around for what feels like forever, but it seems like just yesterday that the app migrated over to Android after being a long-time iOS exclusive. Today marks one year of Instagram's presence on Android, and to celebrate the company shared on its blog that in just that short time almost half of its users come from Android.
End of october 2009 Facebook redesigned their main entry page. Nothing wrong with that, but as always Facebook does not give too many explanations what the new functionalities are all about.
The point is that in case you have more than 255 “friends” (probably means connections) on Facebook, they make a pre-selection, upon you “social behavior” in the past (e.g. user’s posts you had commented to, etc.).
Matthew Tommasi from the Australian Social Media Guide wrote an excellent guide, describing the new functinalities, which can be read here.
Do you also have concerns regarding the use of your private data by Facebook applications?
There is a natural risk with all social network platforms. Even though you’re not allowing to be tagged in pictures, but if your friend on the picture is tagged and your friend belongs to the network of your boss, parents, neighbours etc., you will be recognized (hopefully not in a compromising situation) without you knowing it. This is how social network work by nature (works as designed) and the only way of avoiding this risk is that you carefully avoid anyone making picture of you in a compromising situation (by the way you better should have ensured this behavior since your birth ). A phone call or an email to the person who posted this compromising picture should ensure (assuming that you have a social environment outside of a social net platform) that this picture is deleted. However, a look at facebook’s policies (again, please see below) stating that the Company usually backups every information once posted, makes it in theory impossible to get the right for the secure deletion of your information. The net never forgets anything …
There is one group page Let’s BOYCOTT The FACEBOOK TROJANS (or they call them APPLICATIONS…) on facebook trying to convince people to be very careful in the use of application and to ban them. But obviously not too many people are interested in and as such the danger of compromising your data will persist.
Nick O’Neill posted an interesting article on this flaw in Facebook’s privacy and he calls the phenomena “The Facebook Peer Group Effect”.
Besides the facebook application there is an increased risk of computer viruses, specialized in social network platforms. KoobFace is still active and facebook users should all be aware of it.
Social networks will be the new breeding ground for viruses and an excellent article on this subject can be read here. Programers of computer viruses have always been concentrating on high available platforms (e.g. Microsoft Windows). Social platforms will definitely be an extended area for them in 2009.
If you ever wanted to delete your facebook account (not only getting in closed, means putting it into an invisible frozen status), it might be worth to read this article (showing you what a nightmare it might become).
The following article is at least interesting enough for further information if the CIA gets in Your Face(book). Data mining is in general a hot topic and I do not believe that it will stop at our facebook contribution. Without getting paranoid, I feel a little uncomfortable as I do not know if they are interested in general anonymized data only. As one argument found the following contribution, which however is difficult to get confirmed. I’m looking forward to getting more information from people who already made some research on the credibility of this video, please feel free to use my comment page to post your thoughts or comments.
Personally I must say if this is true, so what? Every time I place something about me on a site, a blog, a forum, I think twice if I really want my grand children to see it.
All social network platforms have by nature the embedded risk of getting your personal data stolen or misused. Copy & Paste is just too easy not to speak about digital “methods” for an automatic sniffling of personal data. It is a personal decision if one wants to post his data or not – I personally prefer to see my posted data on the net rather than finding any surprises on Google posted by someone else or related to an individual with the same name.
I believe however that it should be a human right that everyone has full control over his data and knows exactly who has the right to get legal access to them, including Facebook.
One of the major reasons of Facebook‘s success story is the wealth of applications users can easily add to their profile pages:
Quizzes, little games, IQ tests, polls, etc. – there are thousands of these gadgets available. And once you have added an application, your friends are encouraged to add it too. Most of today’s users (at less 90% of my friends/contacts) do not avoid spamming and they send out a recommendation for each and every application they install. [W: Facebook] growth is currently around 100K users a week(!) and almost everyone of them (including myself) has installed one of this applications.
I spent some time yesterday to have a look at the programming interface for [W: Facebook]. It’s not true that anyone with a basic understanding of web programming can write an application, but I have to admit that it is not too complicated. I was quite surprised to see that the self programmed applications have to run on your own server and not on the [W: Facebook] platform. Even though this is a quite modern approach with the benefit of an excellent workload balancing, it has the clear risk that data are leaving the [W: Facebook] platform and can easily be stored outside of [W: Facebook] without the enduser really realising this fact. – I know that [W: Facebook] themselves teach their users to analyse very carefully which application to install, but let’s be honest, how many (especially non technically interested) users are influenceable by these footnotes and hints?
The issue and the danger of this gadget applications is that you can’t know what they are doing in the background: whatever they might look like, in the background, they can collect personal data and most important those of your friends, storing them in an own database on an own server or sending them out by emailing them to a different server.
When people add an application, unless they say otherwise (and again I bet that more than 99.9% of the users won’t decline), it is given access to most of the information in their profile. That includes information you have on your friends even if they think they have tight security settings.
Did you know that you were responsible for other people’s security?
I’m not a guru programer but I’m developing programs as a hobby and even though I do not know about any application misusing data it seems easy – really easy – for an average developer to do so. Because the applications run on a third-party serves, not run by [W: Facebook] – it is difficult for the company to check what is going on, whether anything has changed, and how long applications store data for and what they do with it. [W: Facebook]‘s terms and conditions contain a warning that this could in theory happen, and offer the option to stop an application from accessing your details, many games and quizzes would not work if this option is engaged.
In fact, the only way we can see of completely protecting yourself from applications skimming information about you and your friends is to erase all the applications on your profile and opt to not use any applications in the future. If [W: Facebook] is right that they have efficient mechanisms in place to check for unusual behaviour of an application,an insecure application can spread like a (computer virus) and it might be too late waiting for a detection by [W: Facebook].
- Don’t subscribe to social networks
- Assume that the personal information and photos you display will be publicly available and not just available to specific friends. Make your choice what to post based on this Golden Rule.
- Strong Passwords, always! – It may seem obvious but make sure you use a strong password for your account. Also, I suggest to use a separate password for fast growing platforms like [W: Facebook]. The people who want to offend you are using successful platforms.
- Secure your birth date – Birth dates are often required to validate your identity. Under Profile, you can choose to not display your birthday – you should at least not post your year of birth.
- Privacy Profile Settings – I suggest setting the Profile Privacy > Basic to “only me” for items: Education Info, Work Info and Profile Privacy > Contact Information to “no one” for items: Mobile Phone, Land Phone, Current Address, Email. You may want to display your website address for advertising, but be than aware what further information your have already published on that platform.
- Privacy Application Settings - Each [W: Facebook] application has similar settings to those of the Privacy settings. New applications are being added everyday. Its difficult to define a set policy. However, I suggest you remove any unwanted applications and/or limit there settings as required. It might be very useful in future to have spend this extra time on carefully reviewing the rights you give to an application.
- Privacy Search Settings – Depending on your use of [W: Facebook], you may not want to be publicly visible or you may want to limit what information is available to all users (i.e. your picture, friend list etc.). We recommend changing the search settings from “everyone” to “friends of friends”. You may also want not(!) to tick “view your friends list“.
- Privacy News Feed and Mini-Feed Settings – Control what stories about you get published to your profile and to your friends
Where do you want to go today? It’s today not anymore a question about the used operating system, it’s more about the social network you want to use. People talking about Web2.0 and all its benefits are for sure right that the navigation and user-friendliness improved already pretty much, but how does it help if I have to maintain a couple of these networks to stay tuned with my friends and colleagues around the world? I’m talking here about business social networks only, not mentioning facebook, orkut and what else appeared in the market the last years in terms of private social networking.
In regards of business related social networks LinkedIn is still the 1st worldwide and in Europe but it has less market dominance in Germany and in France. In Germany former Open-BC not called xing.com is the market leader, as for the French the prefer former viaduc, now called Viadeo. Both have links to the Asian market and especially a lot of contacts to China, but there is little to no mapping with the users you can find in LinkedIn. India has to many local idioms, common language is English, Indian business community can be found on LinkedIn. For private networking India and Brazil are the only two big countries using orkut, more or less unknown to the rest of the world.
LinkedIn announced that they want to kick off a German version by the end of 2008. It will be interesting to see if they will achieve to convince xing users to move to their platforms. As xing has the better price offer and a lot of their users having a paid account I would be surprised if LinkedIn can easily win the battle. Furthermore I believe it will all depend if LinkedIn will develop an interface to smoothly move the profiles from one platform to their own one.
This kind of interface is offered by the quite new platform konnects.com. This had the consequence that I was sending out a real “invitation mass bomb” last week. Funny side effect: my profile clicks exploded on both platforms: LinkedIn and xing.com, almost every invitee clicked on my invitation to have a look who the fancy geek might be, who sent them an invitation to a new social network …
I’m interested to see which social network will make it in the next months. Even though competition is good in general and that there should not be a monopole in this are, I’m getting bored by too many social networks and I strongly believe that I’m not the only one with this perception. The only way the platforms could solve the issue is by clear extension of their API’s and allowing cross-platform contact linking. But this feature does not be part of any of their business plans and strategies.
Plaxo.com is at least a platform (with reduced social networking functionality) but trying to bundle a lot of social networking components and one of their best feature is the synchronization of address books (Outlook, iCal(endar), Google, Yahoo, etc.). I tried to use it already from day one, but at the beginning it was as buggy as the other software tools claiming to offer perfect synchronization. The newest release from plaxo.com however works like charm. besides that they do offer only one-way synchronization from google mail to plaxo, the two-way synchronization works obviously without any issue for all the others platforms. You can even synchronize your twitter, pownce and jaiku accounts. Having talked to one of their developers the two-way synchronization towards google obviously still fails due to changing interface description with google. I believe that unclear interface definition will continue to cause challenges for all software developers in the future.
Average customers should not have to care about the cause of these challenges, hence we can only hope that all the competitors will implement interfaces to their competitors and that they will concentrate on winning the battle by better and new functions rather than growth of their customer data bases only. At least the may-be benefit of social networking is these days killed by too many applications and redundant maintenance of profiles. Excellent to confuse head hunters but with limit use for the individual user, and especially boring to the paying customer.
The need for a market consolidation is obvious. Unless it’s clear who will most probably make the game, we as end users will most probably have to continue to maintain several profiles, with all the mess we are aware of.