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Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg Are In Hot Water…

Many users were furious at the revelation that the Facebook Messenger mobile app was surreptitiously accessing phone functions and user data in what amounts to a total feeding frenzy.

facebook messenger app

facebook feeding frenzy

To be fair to Facebook and all the other app creators who indulge in this kind of behavior; when we install an app we choose to approve the app. The part of that which just about every user skips over are the Terms and Conditions.

Reading this spells out exactly what Facebook Messenger is going to do but like asking for directions when you are lost or reading the DVD instructions,

Who spends the time doing that?

Relying on Laziness Or Ignorance?

So is Facebook Messenger relying on our laziness and ignorance and taking advantage to feed off our data and exploit our phones?

A lot of people in my feed seem to think so as many of them put out statuses letting everyone know that they had uninstalled the app.

Obviously Facebook is big enough to sustain these uninstalls and if the target demographic for IM is teenagers then you can count on zero interest in the Terms and Conditions.

There is clearly a lesson here and perhaps an opportunity too;

Apps like MyPermissions do the heavy lifting for you, checking and notifying when apps gain access to your information. The app can be installed on your desktop browser, Android or iOS device and also allows you an efficient way of keeping app permissions under control.

MyPermissions Solution TO Facebook

The Warptest POV

Putting killer apps like MyPermissions aside for a moment, the problem starts and finishes with app developers who in exchange for great apps (and Messenger is a great app for sure) see no reason they shouldn’t leverage themselves by making use of your device, data connection and personal data.

That said as I was reading the Huffington Post article  (that is worth reading for a nice summary of what Messenger accesses) and I was struck by the fact that only last month Mark Zuckerberg posted an open letter to President Obama about his frustration with the US government and its alleged spying.

 

 

I have to ask if Zuckerberg stopped for a minute to even think if (de facto) commercial espionage on one’s own users is better or worse than excessive spying for the sake of alleged National Security.

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes, Mark?

Facebook the watchmen

Who Watches The Watchmen?

In a nutshell, there are several layers of protection all users need for their personal data, like antivirus / antimalware. The best defense is staying informed of exactly who has access to your data and what they have you agreeing they can do with it.

It’s 2014, do you know who has access to your data and smartphone?

facebook home

Facebook was in the news again…

Yesterday Facebook was featured in two major stories:

Firstly the blogosphere went wild over the news that they are once again in advanced negotiations for the purchase of Israeli social traffic navigation startup Waze.

Waze Splash Screen

Secondly they announced new features being added to Facebook Home on Android and hitting 1 million downloads.

Yes there is a connection…

It hasn’t taken that long a time for Facebook Home to get to their 1 million downloads but not everyone is pleased to have Facebook takeover the start screen of their Smartphone. For those not clued in Facebook Home is just that, a Facebook Start Screen when you turn on your Smartphone. Right now it’s on Android and Microsoft were fast to point out that Windows Phone did this from the get-go anyhow.

Facebook Home Dev Blog

If they manages to acquire Waze they have an incredible and much needed popular App with a huge user base to build into the next iteration of Facebook Home.

The Missing Link

To truly realize the ROI of buying Waze it can’t just sit there; there needs to be some degree of intelligent automated behavior. Facebook Home needs to react to environmental changes in the physical world around the phone.

IFTTT Web

Zuck and team should be taking a long, hard look at Israeli Startup IFTTT who wrote the rulebook on this for web applications and Microsoft (specifically the Israel R&D division) who released an Android App called on{X} last year. This is a rule based App that detects a condition and responds with the appropriate rule running.

Faceb ook Home Secret Sauce

In Facebook Home’s case what’s needed would be something like this use case:

If Accelerometer or GPS detect motion > footspeed then activate Waze from Facebook Home.

Warptest POV

Whatever the truth is about Facebook acquiring Waze, I definitely wish Waze good luck and hope that Facebook realize that simply trying to dominate the Start Screen real estate on Smartphones is not a mobile strategy. It’s firing the first salvo.

What do you think Facebook will do on mobile next?

Today was another day of looking to see if I had received Google +1 after opting in about a month ago and today was another day I didn’t see it.

+1 is basically a way of the user being able to dare I say it “Like” a result of a search. This is done by opting into the service and subsequently clicking the +1 adjacent to a specific search result.

I wasn’t too put out after all Google isn’t my main search engine anyway. I’m more likely to Bing something than to Google it.

Okay, have you started breathing again? Past the shock?

Seriously though, sometimes I just find better stuff through Bing.

More importantly I have no idea how much Google are spending on building and rolling out +1 in-house but Microsoft gave them a strategic ass-whupping today by instead of reinventing the “Like” (and wanting everyone to take the time to click the result they like) they entered into a strategic alliance with Facebook to use Facebook users “Likes”.

whupass

By piggybacking on the Likes already they have access to a huge, pre-existing datastore of historical personal preferences / Social Decisions.

Google may have to play catch-up here even though they seemingly released +1 prior to the Bing-Facebook alliance; about the only strategic counter move I could see Google pulling is if they managed to convince Twitter to give them exclusive indexing rights to Links that people Tweet. It’s unlikely that Google would do this or that Twitter would agree to such a deal.

So, whilst the “Like” button isn’t going to change to “Bing” any time soon how do you feel about your Likes joining the Matrix? More importantly can you be bothered to +1 links in Google?

Do you use Facebook Events? It’s a feature I like and end up using a lot.

(Saying that I don’t manage my calendar from Facebook and I find the export event feature a real pain. I tend to just copy paste to my GCal then sync with my mobile.)

Facebook has another really nice feature Places. It’s the Facebook entry into Locational Services and “Check-Ins” and at present is available mainly to iPhone and Android phones or on other Web enabled mobiles via the following URL: –

http://touch.facebook.com

This feature allows the user to share their latest or real-time location.

How come Events and Places don’t converge and work together?

Places uses Bing Maps and has a “Get Directions” Feature but when I checked, it doesn’t use the last check-in as Start or End point.

If I was testing this feature I would definitely be reporting this as a bug.

Facebook_Mobile_Places

m.bing.map

If I accept an Event why doesn’t Facebook piggyback on Places to offer me a route to the Event. Neat options would be: –

1. Give me a route now (at time of accepting the Event invite).

2. Offer me a route each time my location changes in Places.

3. Let me set an “alarm” for x hours before the Event to check my location and offer me a route to the Event.

So what do you think, should Facebook start maximizing these features to give users a more convergent experience?

Technorati Tags: ,,,,,,Locational Services

In my previous blog piece on Locational Apps I gave my opinion on what they do and don’t do, again it was just my opinion.

Recently, I have cause to revisit the field of Locational Applications and it encouraged me to do a bit of basic testing and research.

I started by looking at the three leading apps at the moment (or so it seems):

For the next part I’m going to attempt to use generic terms rather than any one application’s names or terminology: –

Each of these platforms work on the common paradigm of Users  and Locations. As a distinct user notifies the platform of their arrival at a location this is disseminated to their followers on the application/ platform and subject to the original user’s settings via Social Networks they use like Twitter or Facebook.

I suggested in my previous blog piece that the "Big 3" search engines should be indexing locations.

Isn’t a physical check-in to a location SEO worthy in the same way as arriving at a link in a search?

So my first test was to run searches on Bing, Google and Yahoo for specific users and locations. I used random users and locations; where the same user(s) and location(s) were used for each search engine. The table displays my results: –

image

Conclusions to be drawn from this are:-

  1. None of the Big 3 Search Engines indexes individual locations: again, lost ROI for the locations in terms of ranking.
  2. Gowalla users across the board are indexed and found when searched for.
  3. Bing couldn’t find the Foursquare users but Google and Yahoo could.
  4. Google found the Brightkite users but Bing and Yahoo couldn’t so they offered several partial suggestions for other users on Brightkite with similar locations.

I decided that one more test was warranted against the search engines. I decided to search for <platform_name>, <locational_terminology> and two areas [Tel Aviv and Riverdale].

Map picture

 

The two areas were chosen because based on experience Tel Aviv, Israel is probably the highest concentration of early adopters of tech like this I was familiar with and Riverdale is an area name that could catch several places in the US and these apps / platforms are based in the US.

The table displays my results: –

image

Partial suggestions = a short list of results. Each with a link on the platform/ app website.

Aggregated results = one link in search results containing an aggregated list of links on the platform/ app website.

Conclusions to be drawn from this: –

  1. Bing did not find results for either areas except on Brightkite.
  2. Google indexes all three of the app/ platform locations, at least partially however differences we seen in the total number of links in favor of the US area.

In a nutshell I guess looking for locations from locational applications via search engines is something of an oxymoron.

I looked at these results some more and figured that linking to user profiles on the site has value for personal ranking. However, with the sheer volume of venues being described by all three app/ platforms, what would the increased load be on the web and the search engines to handle each and every checkin?

One bit of encouragement is that as Real Time Search has begun, linking your Gowalla / Foursquare / Brightkite to Twitter or Facebook should mean that de facto Tweets and FB statuses regarding checkins should be indexed like any other.

The big question is, if one of the Big 3 search engines implements their own equivalent Locational Application / Platform or even the new Facebook Places, will their locations be indexed individually giving this missing bump to ranking (SEO) for businesses as locations?

More important, if they do have this added value, how will this affect Gowalla, Foursquare or Brightkite?

Facebook, love them or hate them they are game changers, paradigm breakers and even dare I say it revolutionaries.

The introduction of the Like button and subsequent roll-out for usage on outside of Facebook sites has changed the game and I don’t think we have seen just how much yet. If you look to your left you will see one on my modest little blog in the left frame, feel free to Like me 🙂

Like facebook

One of my pet peeves (as I’m sure you know) is the World Series philosophy when it comes to online entertainment: only the US need apply.

jail

Hulu and others either require a US (or other permitted countries) IP address or in the case of iTunes a US credit card and billing address. I was at Techonomy 2010 yesterday in Ramat Gan, Israel and listened to Robert Scoble talk about this and how an Israeli journo explained that this web-isolationism (my phrase) forces anyone who wants to enter the digital age to go the Torrent route.

I spoke in a previous blog piece about creating a democratic TV: TV is not borderless or democratic .. so what- 

Today I read an article on BoingBoing by Craig Engler, General Manager and Senior VP of the one Channel I would love to come to Israel (or get access to via Hulu),

“Why watching TV online (mostly) doesn’t help ratings (for now).”

I follow him on Twitter as @syfy, we have never conversed mainly because I am sure he is swamped with tweets from fans and I am a needle in that huge haystack.

I enjoy what he has to say and enjoyed the article too, it got me thinking. Ratings… ratings… these statistics are huge money-makers and online just isn’t there perhaps because in the US the Nielsen Ratings system has been going on since 1920 without a great deal of change.

Now let’s take Facebook’s Like button and simply embed this at the end of each episode of an online TV program. Add some kind of incentive via the online platform for the participants and presto you have the Zuckerberg Ratings Company (Mark are you listening, let’s do lunch)

The added value is again, if you are Mr TV Exec and look at the Likes from other countries you can get an accurate predictor of how many oodles of cash your show is going to make in that country.

Correct me if I’m wrong, this is not rocket science. Let’s wax ideological for a moment even and say that entertainment as a common denominator between different cultures may build common ground.

What do you think?

Facebook. I’m not a huge fan-boy for many reasons. A few are: –

  • Their proprietary attitude to owning our life data.
  • Their desire to be a digital country  but without any enforcement of standards of acceptable free speech or not.
  • No I didn’t want you to go wild and tag me in all your photos – approval process DOH!
  • Dude. Security?

However, Facebook is only growing and has become the common platform for many of our communications both personal and business.

facebook

There is a lot going for Facebook beyond ubiquity and a huge market share. Ease of use, a wealth of applications and tools for doing all sorts of things.

Events. Events are neat, easy to use, robust, scalable and you get to choose which of your contacts are invited.

Yesterday one of the folks I follow on Twitter asked if anyone knew how to auto-sync Facebook Events with Google Calendar. I don’t know what surprised me more: that I hadn’t thought of that the hundreds of times I used the Events or that this wasn’t built into Facebook.

Is it good business sense for Facebook to allow Google, Hotmail, Yahoo Calendars etc to sync on the fly automatically for each of your events? Does this diminish the usability of Events within Facebook or my claim to “their  proprietary attitude to owning our life data”?

The fact is that giving users what they want can be good and bad: where do you draw the line?

To be fair, Facebook allows the export of individual events to Calendars but if you are a Calendar/ Event driven person then who needs the repetitive strain?

Anyhow, I searched for an easy solution finding a 3rd Party Application fbcal and a Greasemonkey script for Firefox. However, let me state I do not use Firefox. I test with it but will not keep it installed on my PC. I just don’t like it.

The cool folks at fbcal tweeted after seeing my link to them to me and my tweep offering an alternate host in case the original one was buggy.

image

Following this I decided to go back to the search engines and keep tweaking my search terms to see what I could find. I like the way that doing this can trigger all sorts of ideas in my head and I got to thinking about,

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Office Smart Tags worked for Web Page content via Internet Explorer?

Why don’t they? IE8 could have a neat accelerator for right-clicking recognized date and time data ADD TO OUTLOOK / LIVE CALENDAR.

Now this too is not auto-synchronization; the idea is that the user define which state of events in Facebook are on the fly transferred to their respective Web Calendar. Subsequent changes to content therein should be reviewed at any sync and changed according to user selection of options.

At the end of the day you have to ask yourself, why isn’t this a feature on Facebook?

At this time there is no indication that Facebook events will send SMS reminders to our mobiles as Google Calendar does.

So ask yourself these questions: –

  1. Can I get on-the-go, Real Time reminders to my cellular phone about appointments/ events?
  2. Can I sync to the calendar on my cellular phone?
Technorati Tags: ,GCal,,Smart Tags,

Let’s take a look at some of the big movers and shakers in Social Media: –

blogger facebook linkedin

twitter 

  • Each of them is interested in your content.
  • Each of them has your content in the Cloud.
  • Each of them has to some degree a store of your personal information.

Most if not all of us have antivirus, firewalls, anti-malware solutions on our personal and work computers. Many of us have suffered to some extent from unwanted and often inappropriate emails, spyware and even viruses (I know, not you Linux folks… right.) however, our usage of Web 2.0 and Social Platforms seems to suffer a little more from these delightful occurrences certainly at the Spam level.

Blog comments:

As a blogger you basically have limited options regardless of which platform you use: –

  • You can disable comments altogether, something Engadget felt forced to do this week due to the nature of some of the comments they were receiving (apparently even threats).
  • You can leave comments open and unmoderated for any and all to post which can result in large amounts of Spam. If you configure the Comments to go to your email then this can further overload your inbox with the same Spam.
    • Case in point, this blog receives Spam comments in Kanji, Mandarin, Portugese and Italian.
    • Below is a comment from @dvirreznik regarding his month old blog

dvir-tweet

  • You can configure your comments for moderation which requires you to approve each and every comment made. This is both time consuming / labor intensive for the blogger and sort of takes the Social out of it all.

When I commented in Twitter about this myself @testingqa responded with a great deal of insight:

my comment was …

Thought 4the Day: should blog platforms provide security against spammers beyond moderate comments? #geofilter #learningfilter #antispam 2:54 PM Jan 29th from Seesmic

My tweets: @Testingqa replies:
me-spam

 testingqa-spam

 

The problem seems to be growing not just on blogs but in Facebook, Twitter itself and other Social Media.

Facebook:

Facebook has security settings which are for each functional aspect of a user’s Facebook identity or page they may define the extent that their information is exposed. Furthermore, the user may choose to limit whether their posts to Facebook are indexed by search engines. Facebook chooses to set the defaults as more open rather than more secure as they are in the business of information accessibility. The onus is on the user who they choose to connect to and the levels of sharing they decide to configure.

LinkedIn:

LinkedIn the most business / professional oriented of the platforms I’m writing about here and other than some ads I didn’t really want to see (but weren’t inappropriate just irrelevant) I have not experienced any phishing, spam or mal-occurrences.

The real question is why do platforms like Blogger which is Google’s blogging platform or Facebook or even Twitter (which experienced phishing attacks just yesterday for user passwords) not have better solutions to these security issues which frankly are worrying precursors to actual malware and virus attacks on users and their information on these platforms?

Is it indifference on the part of the platform owners, a lack of a solution or simply that Social Media platforms have not reached the level of product maturity to provide solutions?

Google for example has excellent anti-spam technology in Gmail, why not port this to Blogger’s comments?

I know that simply filtering comments by language/ commenter geo-location allowed by the blog owner would reduce the Spam on my blog drastically.

Or should comments only be from someone who wants to follow you either via Twitter / Facebook / OpenID / Google Connect?

Are we only going to see a more structured response to this black hat behaviour after the fact? Time will tell but if your information is valuable to you don’t rely on others to protect it ensure you have your own backup / disaster plan in place.

Over the last few months I have heard several stories from friends where their blog/ site as hacked, content deleted and they subsequently discovered the host had failed to perform any expected backup.

At the end of the day we have to balance our desire for strong security with how that will limit the exposure of our content; after all it’s not Social Media if we lock it in a box. Now that I mention it I think it is time for a backup after I post this.

Good luck and stay secure.

As the arguement rages about Facebook’s liberal interpretation of free speech i.e. allowing Holocaust deniers the right to post freely on Facebook I am sure that the deniers and spreaders of hate are loving every minute of it but that is not the point of this blog.
Facebook and perhaps all Web 2.0 technology used for Social Networking de facto provides the infrastructure for a virtual society. One might say that the founders/ owners of Facebook have the right to define TOS however by creating a virtual society online that has little if any semblance of law/ code of acceptable behavior then is Facebook opening Pandora’s Box?
In the real world and in civilized society “hate crimes” based on race, gender, religious practice or orientation are treated as a special class of crime because of the actual not potential influence these incitements have to violence.
If it wasn’t simple Holocaust denial but perhaps recruiting Facebook residents for cyber or real-world acts of terror then we would certainly see a real world law enforcement response.
The freedom of speech issue is an American one and Facebook is an American company. Is Facebook liable for any acts of incitement and subsequent violence caused by the incitement that occurs within their virtual society? Moreso, is Facebook breaking the law, US Federal law by providing a platform for hate of this nature on servers that probably sit on US soil owned and funded by US citizens?
Perhaps the founders should visit Germany where Holocaust denial is illegal and admit that they provide a platform for this “free speech” or try to set up a Facebook server farm there. It would be interesting to see the official German response to this.
What is a legitimate reaction to encountering this kind of hate online? Should users indulge in Facebook petitions, or approach advertisers to leave Facebook, will users themselves boycott and leave Facebook as a result of this or will some users define a more militant approach to this?
One thing I do know is that Holocaust denial and other hate crimes have no place on Facebook or any other open social network platform. Legitimizing this kind of thing whilst hiding behind the constitution seems liberal naivete at best and at worst leaves us to question the true beliefs of the management of Facebook.
My son is an overachiever at two years of age. He decided that a simple ear infection was no good so a few days before his birthday he dragged us to the ER with an outstanding example of Mastoiditis. Every Doctor and his brother got to know our little man as he was displayed as a text book case, apparently not something they get to see every day.

Nearly three weeks later the poor little fella sports a scar behind his ear from where the surgeons drained an abcess and still is getting IV antibiotics once a day now we are home. Being in hospital was tough on him and emotionally and physically tough on us. The worry aside, sleeping on a cot and being woken during the night is not conducive to great health even in the best of hospitals.

Of course, we felt extremely cut off from our day to day life. You get pretty dependent on seeing your email and surfing the web at least once a day whether to read the news or go to your favorite websites.

Once again my one-two punch of Cellular phone as modem and PDA gave me a way to connect to the outside world in one of the few hospital wards without WiFi. My HP IPAQ had me up and running connected to my Gmail, Facebook (to let all my friends know where we vanished to and my son’s status) and the Windows Mobile Messaging let me download the headers for all my Outlook email.

Of course you need the energy to actually do all this, something I was lacking even when the little man was fast asleep. I managed to subsist during our stay on a steady diet of coke and espresso, oh yes and Tums. Still when I did go online it was a nice feeling to see the world was still there.

Now we are home and until the Doctors give him the all clear to go back to nursery he won’t let me get on the computer, he needs to!
Social Networking is hot stuff these days especially with the ongoing Microsoft vs Google competition and Microsoft buying a hefty chunk of Facebook.

I used LinkedIn early in my job hunt but found many other Social Networks to be well … either useless or frivilous. There I said it and no lightning bolt or villagers with pitchforks and burning torches, wow!

The truth is that these are far from frivilous, it is how you decide to leverage them and remembering what you are trying to get out of them. My initial foray into Facebook led me to add all sorts of cute and fun applications but these distracted me from the point of being there …. I was trying to find a new job in my field as Quality Assurance Manager.

The realization that Facebook had been made into this frivilous timewaster by structuring it or creating this environment of Surveys, Zombies, Pokes and Jokes led me to dump these applications (or at least most of them) and look at what I had left.

The truth is though that one of Facebook’s most annoying features led me to really use it to Network my job hunt; Facebook has a status feature that egocentrically describes yourself in the 3rd person. This just irks me.

I was on Facebook responding to an invitation from an old friend who did the IDF Medics course with me when I read another friend’s status … he wrote about how his company was hiring and the jobs could be found in the Marketplace application. This took a few seconds to sink in and then with a slap on my forehead I entered the Marketplace app, searched for QA under jobs and sent several messages to relevant prospective employees.

This morning I had several requests to forward my resume to those I contacted and as I sip my coffee I know I should thank the irksome Facebook status and my friend for reminding me to keep the mission clearly defined and see every avenue as a chance to sell my personal brand.