What does Facebook do with all your data?

So you log onto Facebook, like a few pictures, send a comment (or two) to some friends then log off. What does Facebook do with this content? Is it safe?

Facebook predicts your personal, private traits

Facebook has recently been going through some data by:

  • Finding out the personality types of users
  • Identifying your religious beliefs (e.g. Christianity vs Islam)
  • Predicting what your gender is
  • Developing an understanding of what intelligent might be
  • Identifying if you are happy with life
  • Finding out your sexual orientation (i.e. whether you are gay, bisexual or straight)

Facebook, therefore, is starting to illustrate the power of having all this free data. Whenever you sign up to Facebook you must accept the terms and conditions to use the service. By doing so you are allowing Facebook to analyse a lot of information about who you are, what you believe in, as well as, some of your most personal traits.

On the flip side

If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to worry about

But what if they sell all this data to third parties? What if they start predicting what you want in twenty years’ time? Is this a complete invasion of privacy?

If you use Facebook you should be aware of this use/misuse. This post is not an attempt to ‘freak you out’, it points out some privacy issues.

This post is an expansion, probably of many, of reasons why I don’t have Facebook.

Gerald says hello

This is the second year of this blog and I never thought two years ago that I would be writing a post on here telling other people who I am.

Who is the writer behind 1digitalfingerprint?

I am Gerald Murphy and you can find out more details on my search engine technology blog. I have two separate blogs and I thought I would publicly connect them to help me as I seek full time employment: I will have a BSc in Information and Communications by June 2013.

Why is a blog a good thing?

Blogging shows that you can write content from nothing, or very little. Employers like this because you can think interdependently and publish material which can be read by a specific audience. So if you blog about food, your own life, or life itself (the main aim of 1digitalfingerprint)… you are also broadcasting the fact that you can create good quality content.

I hope to work within SEO and digital marketing upon graduation, so personally speaking these blogs are important. If I am working on an SEO campaign and a client wants new content, or improved content, I will be able to do it. Blogging adds to one’s skills, furthermore it shows the world (potentially) some of your skills.

This blog will not change. I will continue to write about the things that I have been writing about. I hope to see all my readers, fantastic followers and the WordPress community on here soon. From now on you will know my name — Gerald.

Getting legal music doesn’t have to be difficult

Music: what are the choices?

The internet has grew so much recently, so too has misuse of the web. More and more people are downloading music without paying for it. Sometimes some of these people get caught by their native police force, others can avoid it by making use of jurisdiction and technology (such as, VPNs, for example). But it it difficult to get legal music on the internet?

Streaming services

Spotify, for example, allows users to log on to an account and choose their own songs to listen to. Although streaming is a form of downloading, it does not stay on the hard drive of your computer [1]. This means that your computer (at home) tells a website you want a song, it fetches it (maybe sends an advert with it) from the companies server and they allow you to play it through your computer. Companies like Spotify make a lot of money from adverts because they have a high level of hits (the number of people who check out their site).

There are so many other examples, so much so, I do not want to try to name them here because I probably only know an eighth of them — if that. It also varies from country to country, which is good for us — a variety is always good. But it is worth highlighting, at this point, that streaming is easy to do. This is legal because you are not depriving an artist of their earnings. However, this option is a little time consuming (i.e. you have to go to a website, log on, and type what song you want) but maybe it will get easier?

Cheap music

I am not that old but I have noticed that music has become cheaper to purchase — legally. This is a good thing, of course. Years ago I couldn’t have imagined to buy one song off an artist I didn’t particularly like. What do I mean? Well, digital music has allowed a greater access to the various parts of artists. For example, users can buy an individual track rather than buying a whole album. For example, Apple’s iTunes allows users to do it, almost effortlessly.

Digital music has become fragmented. This is a good thing!

The ethical questions

This isn’t a solution, but it could help the world to make one. And I am convinced that the world will make a global decision in my lifetime. Imagine if we all started to use technology a little better, streaming songs rather than illegally downloading them. Would this be fairer to the artist(s)? Would this make the governments in our home nations to make technology more accessible if we start to use it correctly? Would they think about giving power to the people rather than taking it away by enforcing strict laws in every country about what can and can’t be done?

If the song is really good, why not buy it? Turn that great feeling into a great act — pay for more great songs to be released.

You and I can help this. Next time you want to listen to a song, use one of these free services. They are free and fairly easy. This small change can help, especially with ethical issues.

Reference

  1. http://www.spotify.com/uk/about-us/contact/

We are too quick with technology!

When it comes to technology we tend to want things now, at this very moment in time. By thinking like this we do not always think of the consequences. This post touches on a few (of the many) reasons why we are too quick with technology, as well as system failure.

US PreCheck system

On Thursday, 25th Oct 2012 a BBC News article identified how frequent fliers could have posed a risk to airlines: frequent fliers could by-pass certain security procedures because technology thought they were always going to stay ‘safe’ travellers.

Furthermore, by using technology too quickly, domestic airlines learnt that their digital barcodes were unencrypted. Unencrypted barcodes are very vulnerable to unauthorised users because they are easier to hack. Unencryption basically opens up a whole program up to the internet because anyone with the skills and access to the site can potentially access the system.

Unencrypted data is basically an open invitation to intruders. It’s a bit like having a house but leaving the front door unlocked — almost anyone can break in.

Boeing and WiFi

A UK newspaper also highlighted in an article one of the most concerning system failures, in my view, because they embraced technology too quickly — boeing.

A few years ago Boeing thought they could give WiFi to their customers flying on Boeing 787. Yes, this would have been ground-breaking at the time by allowing people (a few years ago) to get internet on the move and in the sky, literally! But they soon discovered that having one single on-board network (i.e. a single system would carry the navigation, control, the internet…) could allow a passenger to hi-jack the plane from the passenger deck because they shared the same system. This meant that if someone was granted access to the internet on the 787, they could gain unauthorised access to other areas of the same network — including the navigation system.

This is a bit like allowing a stranger to use your kitchen, it wouldn’t be impossible for this same stranger to use your bathroom: they’re already in! If a passenger had the technical skill set they could gain entry to other systems, even if they were unauthorised — why didn’t they allow passengers to simply fly the plane from the cockpit!

Okay, this was caught on-time but it shows just how quick companies (and us!) are embracing technology.

Terms and conditions apply

We do it all the time, you and I. When was the last time you hit the “I Accept” button at the end of that long contract? Or do you just hit the button and use the service, hoping that you can do everything, such as authorised printing, for example. Are you really allowed to do what you do? Or is it clearly written in the terms and conditions? You know, the ones that few people, you and I (us!) actually read.

Browse safely. Think safely. Think smartly — use technology wisely. It is easy to embrace it too quickly. Doing this can harm you and I. Remember that the balance is important, right?

Reasons why I don’t have Facebook

Facebook has over 900 million users [1] – I am not one of them! This is why:

Facebook: not the only method

I hear so many people asking one another to poke me, Facebook me and I have to say that I do not have a Facebook account. Sometimes I get a really shocked face, other times I get a really positive reaction, for example, some say that I must not be easily influenced by other people and things.

My traditional methods of communication help me stay in touch with my brilliant family, and close friends. I text, I email and I call people; although I am a texter at heart.

Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected [2]

I am a student (at University) of ICT – I embrace openness, connectivity, sharibility, freedom etc. But I do not believe in sharing my personal life with a company, namely Facebook. Did you know that your information, your life, your wall is being used for personalised marketing? I haven’t actually saw a Facebook wall, I haven’t even asked a relative (or friend) to log in, so I could see, in detail what these walls look like. I don’t intend to either.

Your life = Facebook gain

Facebook probably know when everybody gets paid, they can (probably) predict what you are going to do next summer. Did you ever go on a holiday and say you’d go back? Did you post that on Facebook? If so, they know you! They know just as much about you as your friends, and they don’t even know you!

Advertising is a massive industry. It is used everywhere, we even use it – our CV’s (or resume) is our own marketing tool for employers. Facebook abuse this power, claiming that it’s them being open. Now that’s one accurate mission statement!

Facebook’s power of knowledge

Facebook is now getting really clever, they are starting to use their content to predict and produce advertisments to all their users. Your free page is worth millions to Facebook – that’s why it’s given to you free of charge! They know that user’s will generate content, specific and personal content, they’ll index it, use it and produce it for financial means.

Anti-Facebook, not totally

I am, of course, a human being. So I know how important it is to share your life with those who are really close to you. I know that Facebook is a method of communication, for some, it is the only main method of communication. But all I am trying to get across to you, is to be careful as you embrace and use technology, it has its downfalls. The only piece of advice I can give a Facebooker is to look at your own privacy settings. Search yourself, use Google (another organisation I may let of some steam about on here, in the near future) to search your name, can you see from Google what you have been up to? If you can, so can everyone else on the web – including employers! Yes, your own marketing tool (your CV) can back fire!

In my life I have nothing to hide. So I definitely do not get my anti-Facebooknism to hide an element of who or what I am, but I do have some problems with where, who and what information is used for:

  • pay day – when do you go on a spending spree? Ah, every fourth Wednesday! Quick get X some Y adverts in two weeks time, they’ll buy this if we show them it enough. Better still give them these advertisements at 6pm, they log-in lots of times during this time of day
  • geographic location – did you know that X spends a lot of time writing about Y pub? They post and tag pictures of Z all the time. That’s great, we can pass these details on to see if that celebrity is really there in the photos, or better still, we need to turn our openness into criminal touts – we’ll pass your information onto third parties
  • hacking – with all this content, why don’t X hack Facebook to gain access to all this valuable information? Oh wait, I don’t want Faceleaks – what if my information gets into criminal hands, the wrong hands to prove that Facebook are not for connection and openness? Too late, I’m a regular user, I don’t think of these things! Look at J Assange and Wikileaks – he got (with help) lots of important, authoritive government data! Perhaps to ensure the world knew that he actually got the data.

I think you now know that I will not be signing up to Facebook anytime soon?! Share safe online, be safe online by knowing what you have to do as the user of technology – it is a big, big scary world, at times, but it’s often a fantastic world.

References

  1. http://newsroom.fb.com/content/default.aspx?NewsAreaId=22
  2. http://www.facebook.com/facebook/info