Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

Illinois Bans Facebook, Social Network Password Requests by Employers

August 5th, 2012 No comments

Illinois joins Maryland as the second state to sign legislation preventing employers from snooping on employees and job applicants on social networks, provided the applicants’ security settings are set to private.

Illinois has become the second state in the country to pass legislation banning companies from asking employees or job applicants for their login information for social networks.

The bill, which Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Aug. 1, makes it illegal for an employer to request social network account information in order to gain access to their profile.  It also prevents employers from screening potential job candidates or reprimanding current employees based on information from social networks that would otherwise be private.

“Employers certainly aren’t allowed to ask for the keys to an employee’s home to nose around there, and I believe that same expectation of personal privacy and personal space should be extended to a social networking account,” Christine Radogno, state senate minority leader and co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “This law will not only protect employees’ reasonable rights to privacy on the Web, but will shield employers from unexpected legal action.”

Illinois is the second state to enact this type of law; Maryland did it as well earlier this year. The issue rose to prominence when news reports surfaced of companies asking for Facebook passwords in order to access information about prospective employees. The controversy prompted Erin Egan, Facebook chief privacy officer, to issue a statement in March calling the practice “alarming.”

“We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” she wrote in a post on Facebook’s privacy page. “But it also may cause problems for the employers that they are not anticipating.  For example, if an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don’t hire that person.”

In May, analyst firm Gartner predicted there would be a significant increase in the amount of snooping on social networks by employers, with 60 percent projected to do it by 2015. Andrew Walls, research vice president at Gartner, told eWEEK Aug. 3 that while the actual number of incidents where businesses requested login information is low, it is appropriate to create boundaries to intrusive actions by employers.

“This does not mean that monitoring of publicly available content is to be avoided,” he said. “Monitoring and analysis of social media content is a good way to assess market reaction to corporate activities and to assess a variety of issues related to employee satisfaction or happiness.”

Many employers already monitor social media informally with spot checks of Facebook or LinkedIn profiles and status updates, he continued, and an increasing number are monitoring social media using automated mechanisms.

Under the Illinois law, employers can view any information that is publicly available. However, Consumer Reports estimated in May based on a survey that as many as 13 million U.S. Facebook users do not use or are unaware of the site’s privacy settings. In addition, Consumer Reports estimated that during the previous 12 months, 2.6 million users discussed their “recreational use of alcohol” on their Facebook wall, while 4.6 million discussed their love life.

“The upshot: you can still be as law-spurning, drunken and/or unprofessional as you want on Facebook and other sites, but at least for now, you have a chance to keep that behavior out of employers’ sight – if you work in Illinois or Maryland, that is,” noted technology writer Lisa Vaas on Sophos’ Naked Security blog. “Of course, if you’re one of the estimated 13 million US Facebook users who don’t use and/or are oblivious to the site’s privacy controls, the new law means zilch.”

This article is re-published in its entirety from

Categories: Facebook, Social Media Tags:

Facebook Exodus

June 16th, 2012 No comments

Facebook’s chief technology officer, Bret Taylor, is departing to start his own company, in the first exit of a high-profile executive since the social networking company’s IPO on May 18.

In an announcement on his Facebook page verified by a company spokesman, Taylor said he will be starting up a new company with Kevin Gibbs, a senior Google engineer, according to his Facebook profile.

The news was first reported by AllThingsD.

“While a transition like this is never easy, I’m extremely confident in the teams and leadership we have in place,” Taylor said on his page. “I’m very proud of our recent accomplishments in our platform and mobile products, from Open Graph and App Center to Facebook Camera and our iOS integration. I’m even more excited for the world to see all the amazing things these teams have coming.”

Some investors had speculated that Facebook would have trouble holding onto key talent following its IPO, which created many millionaires among its ranks.

Facebook executive Mike Vernal will take over the platform division, one of Taylor’s key jobs. Cory Ondrejka will take over mobile, a source familiar with the situation confirmed.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Bret and getting to know him as a friend and teammate,” said Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg in a statement.

“I’m grateful for all he has done for Facebook and I’m proud of what he and his teams have built. I’m also proud that we have a culture where great entrepreneurs like Bret join us and have such a big impact.”

Many high-profile Facebook executives have left the company since its founding in 2004, including Taylor’s predecessor as CTO, Dustin Moskovitz. He left Facebook in 2008 with his colleague Jason Rosenstein to form a social-networking company for business called Asana.

Moskovitz, a onetime Harvard roommate of Zuckerberg, had been with the company since its earliest days.

Another former roommate of Zuckerberg’s, Chris Hughes, also left a few years ago and coordinated online organising for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Now, he is publisher of the New Republic magazine.

Dave Morin, who joined Facebook in 2008, left in 2010 to found another social network, Path. Facebook alumni Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever left in 2009 to start Quora, their question-and-answer company.

Matt Cohler, who joined Facebook from LinkedIn early in 2005, joined venture capital firm Benchmark Capital in 2008. His investments there include Asana and Quora.

Chris Kelly, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, left in 2010 to run unsuccessfully for attorney general of California.


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Facebook Page Manager App

May 16th, 2012 No comments

One of the gripes that I have about Facebook’s mobile apps are that the service has simply too many features to pack into one mobile experience.

I was really stoked when Facebook Messenger was released, because it made complete sense to focus in on that feature with a really great separate product.According to 9to5mac, it looks like Facebook is peeling off more features into separate apps that might take the stress off of the company to pack everything in too tightly.

The notification of a new app called “Pages Manager” is presenting itself to those with access to the Australian App Store for iOS, offering users to install it separately:

atcpudbcqamvgrh 520x405 Facebook launches dedicated Pages Manager app, making it easy to, well...

If you manage pages for work, school, or for other organizations that you’re involved with, it looks like you’ll be able to handle that process in an isolated mobile app experience. By focusing on managing Pages, it allows you to not have to mix “business and pleasure”, as it were.

We’ve reached out to Facebook to see when the app would be more widely available to its users.

UPDATE: Thanks to our reader Josie, here’s a look at the app in action:

photo 13 520x780 Facebook launches dedicated Pages Manager app, making it easy to, well...   photo 21 520x780 Facebook launches dedicated Pages Manager app, making it easy to, well...

photo 3 520x780 Facebook launches dedicated Pages Manager app, making it easy to, well...   photo 4 520x780 Facebook launches dedicated Pages Manager app, making it easy to, well...

Original Article Posted Here

Categories: Facebook Tags:

Facebook Privacy Controls?

May 7th, 2012 No comments

Investigation Looks at Data Collection through the Biggest Social Network; Nine Ways for Consumers to Protect Themselves

June 2012 CoverYONKERS, NY — Nearly 13 million U.S. Facebook users do not use, or are not aware of the site’s privacy controls, according to a new Consumer Reports investigation on Facebook and privacy, potentially exposing  personal information beyond their network of Facebook friends.  The report also revealed that a projected 4.8 million people have posted about where they planned to go on a certain day, a potential tip-off to burglars, while 4.7 million have “liked” a Facebook page about health conditions or treatments, details that insurers might use against them.

The full report can be found in the June 2012 issue of Consumer Reports and online at

The Consumer Reports investigation focused on Facebook as it is the largest social network with just over 900 million users worldwide and more than 150 million users in the U.S.  The service makes it easy for people to keep up with friends, family and colleagues, discover great content, and connect to causes. Consumer Reports notes that to deliver this service, Facebook and other social networks collect enormous amounts of often highly sensitive information and distribute it widely and quickly.

Consumer Reports points out that all of this data collection is not without risks. A projected seven million households using Facebook said they had trouble last year, ranging from someone using their log-in without permission to being harassed or threatened – up 30 percent from the previous year, according to the Consumer Reports Annual State of the Net survey.  And unless an individual has chosen their privacy settings meticulously, one of their friends who runs an app could grant it access to their information without their knowledge, including information that was set to “friends” only view. Only 37 percent of users say they have used the site’s privacy tools to customize how much information apps are allowed to see, according to the Consumer Reports survey.

“Facebook really is changing the way the world socially communicates and has become a successful service in part by leveraging copious amounts of personal data that can be spread far wider than its users might realize,” said Jeff Fox, Consumer Reports Technology Editor. “Our investigation revealed some fascinating, and some disquieting trends – but ones always worth knowing for consumers who wish to keep their personal data under better control.”

What does Facebook know?  Americans feed all kinds of personal details into Facebook’s vast database by posting status updates on their “wall,” updating their profile, “liking a  page,”  or  using  other
Facebook features. The numbers below show how many people engaged in each activity during the past 12 months, based on projections from the Consumer Reports State of the Net survey:

  • 39.3 million identified a family member in a profile
  • 20.4 million included their birth date and year in their profile
  • 7.7 million “liked” a Facebook page pertaining to a religious affiliation
  • 4.6 million discussed their love life on their wall
  • 2.6 million discussed their recreational use of alcohol on their wall
  • 2.3 million “liked” a page regarding sexual orientation

While some privacy or security issues arise from poor choices Facebook users themselves make, other problems can stem from the ways the company collects data, how it manages and packages its privacy controls, and the fact that users’ data can wind up with people or companies with whom they did not intend to share. Some users might be surprised to know that Facebook gets a report every time they visit a site with a “Like” button, regardless of whether or not they click on that button, have a Facebook account, or are even logged in.

For its part, Facebook says it takes privacy and safety issues seriously. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that the company does privacy access checks tens of billions of times each day. The company has also announced that it would offer users greater access to records of their past Facebook activity. In addition, it says it watches vigilantly for apps that misbehave. According to a company spokesperson, “We have a dedicated team that reviews apps using a risk-based approach to ensure we address the biggest risks, rather than just doing a cursory review at the time an app is first launched.”

Better protections.  Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, wants a national privacy law that holds all companies to the same privacy standards and lets consumers tell companies not to track them online.  It also supports the Obama administration’s effort to bring industry and privacy groups together to set clear rules for how personal data is collected and used. Additionally, Consumers Union launched a petition urging Facebook to improve privacy controls and address concerns about sharing practices. The petition is highlighted in a CU policy ad appearing in Politico which can be found

It addition to the privacy safeguards that Facebook already has in place, Consumer Reports notes that the company could also fix a security lapse that permits users to set up weak passwords including some six-letter dictionary words. And it could help users avoid inadvertently sharing status updates with the public, either by alerting them more prominently when they are about to do so or by changing the default audience for posts to the user’s preferred audience.

Nine ways to stay protected. Facebook offers many privacy controls that may not be easy for layfolk to understand.  A new study by Siegel+Gale, New York-based consultants, finds that Facebook’s and Google’s privacy policies are tougher to comprehend than the typical bank credit card agreement. Below are nine tips from Consumer Reports that will help users understand and utilize privacy tools:

  • Think before typing. Even if a user deletes his/her account (which takes Facebook about a month), some info can remain in Facebook’s computers for up to 90 days.
  • Regularly check Facebook exposure. Each month, users should check out how their page looks to others. Review individual privacy settings if necessary.
  • Protect basic information. Set the audience for profile items, such as town or employer. And users should remember: Sharing info with “friends of friends” could expose them to tens of thousands.
  • Know what can’t be protected. Each user’s name and profile picture are public. To protect one’s identity, they should not use a photo, or use one that doesn’t show their face.
  • “UnPublic” the wall. Set the audience for all previous wall posts to just friends.
  • Turn off Tag Suggest. If users would rather not have Facebook automatically recognize their face in photos, they could disable that feature in their privacy settings. The information will be deleted.
  • Block apps and sites that snoop. Unless users intercede, friends can share personal information about them with apps. To block that, they should use controls to limit the info apps can see.
  • Keep wall posts from friends. Users don’t have to share every wall post with every friend. They can also keep certain people from viewing specific items in their profile.
  • When all else fails, deactivate. When a user deactivates their account, Facebook retains their profile data but the account is made temporarily inaccessible. Deleting an account, on the other hand, makes it inaccessible forever.
Categories: Facebook Tags:

The Web Is Shrinking. Now What?

June 26th, 2011 No comments
We all read the statistics every week documenting the meteoric new growth areas of the Internet, and they are impressive:

Online video is exploding, with annual user growth of more than 45 percent. Mobile-device time spent increased 28 percent last year — with average smartphone time spent doubling. And social networks are now used by 90 percent of U.S. Internet users — for an average of more than four hours a month.

None of this is a newsflash. Every venture capitalist, Web publisher, and digital marketer is hyper-aware of these three trends.

But what’s happening to the rest of the Web?

The Web Is Shrinking. Really.

When you take these three growth areas out of the picture, the size of the hole left behind is staggering: the rest of the Web — the tried and true core that we thought would have limitless growth — is already shrinking.

Here are the facts:

When you exclude just Facebook from the rest of the Web, consumption in terms of minutes of use shrank by nearly nine percent between March 2010 and March 2011, according to data from comScore. And, even when you include Facebook usage, total non-mobile Internet consumption still dropped three percent over the same period.

We’ve known that social is growing lightning fast — notably, Facebook consumption, which grew by 69 percent — but now it’s clear that Facebook is not growing in addition to the Web. Rather, it’s actually taking consumption away from the publishers who compete on the rest of the Web.

And just what is the rest of the Web?

I have been calling it the “document Web,” based on how Google and other Web architectures view its pages as documents, linked together. But increasingly, it might as well be called the “searchable Web” since it’s accessed predominantly as a reference, and navigated primarily via search.

And it’s becoming less relevant.

In the last year, Facebook’s share of users’ time online grew from one out of every 13 minutes of use nationwide, to one out of every eight. In aggregate, that means the document Web was down more than half a billion hours of use (that’s more than 800 lifetimes) this March versus last March. And in financial terms, that represents a lost opportunity of $2.2 billion in advertising inventory that didn’t exist this year.

The Creation of a New, Connected Web

The change in the Web’s direction is a clear indication to me that we aren’t just in the midst of a boom for new interaction modes, but rather in a generational overhaul of the Internet.

What replaces the declining searchable Web is a new and “fully connected” digital life. You may have heard this before. After all, the promise of the Web was to connect pages with hyperlinks. Well, this time, “connected” means much more. It means the Web connects us, as people, to each one of the individuals online; and those connections, ultimately, extend from one of us to all of us.

Just as significantly, this all happens in real time, and at nearly all times.

And here’s what’s different when you connect people, as opposed to pages: Now, the Web knows who we are (identity), is with us at all times wherever we go (mobile), threads our relationships with others (social), and delivers meaningful experiences beyond just text and graphics (video).

The connected, social Web is alive, moving, proactive, and personal, while the document Web is just an artifact — suited as a universal reference, but hardly a personal experience.

The Social Web Versus the Searchable Web

Analytical explanations — increasing smartphone penetration, bandwidth availability, and technology sophistication — fill in some of the gaps as we try to understand this sea change, but they fall short.

Something larger is afoot, and it’s not about science or technology. Rather, as human beings, we have changed how we fit the Internet into our lives.

And the nature of the Web is changing to match. The old searchable Web is crashing; while the new connected, social Web is lifting off.

The implications for publishers are massive.

The last decade has been defined by the rise of Google as the nearly limitless supplier of traffic to digital media properties. And so a generation of digital media publishers developed and followed the same playbook: create lots of content around top keywords, engineer for search engine optimization (SEO) and expand the surface area in search engines to reach more users. The objective was to catch visitors in their net; expand reach — as measured by ComScore — look more impressive to advertisers and capture more demand.

The landscape is changing, and fast.

SEO’s strategic value is quickly fading as Google’s growth slows and its prominence in distribution slides away. In its place, Facebook has become the wiring hub of the connected Web — a new “home base” alternative to Google’s dominance of the last decade. Facebook began receiving as many visits as Google in March 2010, and already garners more than three times as many minutes as Google each month from users, according to comScore. Looking ahead, the best projections of U.S. online reach indicate that Facebook will surpass Google on that metric in less than a year, too.

And with this change, the nature of the relationship between users and publishers is being altered fundamentally — and perhaps forever.

Search offers a utility relationship, connecting users to content for the briefest of transactions; typically, it provokes users to just one pageview so they can find a piece of information, and then they move on.

But social discovery builds a relationship. Leveraging social endorsements and an environment of serendipitous discovery, consumers meet publishers in a meaningful context. As a result, the relationship that forms is stronger — and, more importantly for publishers, it’s branded.

Unlike the ecosystem set up by Google, where the search engine ironically intermediates between users and the objects of their queries (so that users reinforce their loyalty to Google, far more than to the publisher), in the world of social publishing, the Facebook hub enables a direct, if constrained, relationship between users and media brands.

The results — at least for my own company, Wetpaint — are that social media brings more qualified eyeballs and retains them. People who come via social media stay longer on the first visit; and they are more likely to come back sooner and more frequently. Overall, our visitors from social networks have a relationship that’s several times stronger — and several times as valuable when measured in engagement, pageviews, and revenues — than the relationships people form when then arrive through search.

The Human Connection

But it’s not just a change in mechanics. It’s a change in our human relationships.

Lewis D’Vorkin, the Chief Product Officer at Forbes, speaks of it when he and Alex Knapp talk about “live” media, quantum entanglement and mutually rewarding relationships that bind authors and readers on the new connected Web. It’s a sense of the Web moving from static published reference to living digital companion.

But there’s even more, and this vast change foreshadows bigger and better impacts on our lives. The greatest innovators in social media are driving exactly along that edge today. As one friend commented recently on the full potential of connected lives, by being joined more closely together, we can increase empathy and meaning, while decreasing isolation.

Toward a Fully Connected Future

Admittedly, we’re early in the replacement cycle when it comes to the connected Web. Even for strong connected Web performers like Huffington Post, Wetpaint, and others, the sum total of traffic from Facebook, Twitter, video, and mobile may add up to only half the total, or less.

But the trend has tipped, and with that tip has come both the business necessity and the human impact potential of elevating the relationship.

As the document Web of old shrinks, the new connected Web expands and delivers experiences that make our time online more effective, efficient, and enjoyable.

And that changes the role of companies on the Web from mere content publishers or providers to truly connected digital partners for real people.

This article was originally published by All Things Digital.

Published on June 23, 2011
by Ben Elowitz

Ben Elowitz (@elowitz) is co-founder and CEO of web publisher Wetpaint, and author of the Digital Quarters blog about the future of digital media. Prior to Wetpaint, Elowitz co-founded Blue Nile (NILE). He is an angel investor in media and e-commerce companies.


Categories: Facebook, google, Social Media Tags:

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