Wednesday, May 05, 2010

What Not to Post on Facebook and Other Social Networks to Protect Our Privacy

In the Los Angeles Times at Internet Security 101: What not to post on Facebook Alex Pham provides us with a list of seven things which, according to Consumer Report, we should "stop doing now" on social networks to protect our privacy.

The Great Exploiter: Facebook Moves from Social Networking to Social Exploitation: How to Opt Out of Facebook Sharing YOUR Personal Data with the Rest of the World in Order to Make Money FOR THEM

At in Facebook to Share Your Information for Money, we discovered that Facebook is beginning to use, indeed, share with the world -- YOUR data -- in order to make money for the company, a practice totally contrary to the original social networking purpose of the Facebook website.

This is an incredible invasion of privacy which takes Facebook totally out of the ranks of "social networking" and into abusive and we think possibly criminal "social exploitation".
You are warned.

Here is how to OPT OUT of having your personal information shared all over the web:

1: Go to your Facebook page
2. Click on "Privacy Settings" under the menu item "Account".
3. Click on "Applications and Web Sites".
4. Find "Instant Personalization Pilot Program" and click on "Edit Setting".
5.Typical for the evil of this feature at Facebook is that the "opt out" statement is in tiny print at the bottom of the page and reads "Allow select partners to instantly personalize their features with my public information when I first arrive on their websites." This is checked with a checkmark by default -- a default which we think should be a per se criminal violation of privacy rights. Uncheck that statement to keep Facebook from using YOU as their meal ticket.

Warning: If your friends decide to share THEIR information and you have not blocked them from sharing YOUR information, then YOUR information can still also be shared with 3rd-party websites by your friends without your intending that sharing.

To cut off that possibility, proceed as follows:

1: Go to your Facebook page
2. Click on “Privacy Settings" under the menu item "Account".”
3. Click on “Applications and Web Sites.”
4. Find "

Dropdown lists that mask the "Only Me" Privacy Option with a "Custom edit" option.

"Applications and Web Sites”

You also have to control all of the check boxes under the various tab headings at the "Account Settings" in the dropdown list under the menu item "Account".

The tab headings are Settings, Networks, Notifications, Mobile, Language, Payments, and Facebook Ads.

Under Settings you will see Name, Username, Email, Password, Linked Accounts, Security Question, Privacy, Account Security, Deactivate Account. Check everything.

Under Networks you can enter a network, which we do not recommend. We have tried it and you merely expose yourself to a great number of people you do not know.

Under Notifications, there are currently no fewer than SEVENTY-TWO check boxes that can be check or unchecked in the following areas (talk about creating confusion pure):
    * Facebook
    * Photos
    * Groups
    * Pages
    * Events
    * Notes
    * Links
    * Video
    * Gifts
    * Help Center
    * Wall Comments
    * Other updates from Facebook
    * Translations
    * Other Applications
Examine these carefully and check only things you really NEED. All of those check-box options are not there for your benefit, rather, they are intended to make things such a mass of confusion so that something beneficial for Facebook will sneak through unnoticed.

IMPORTANT! Another feature of Facebook that is diabolical is that in some cases check marks are effective when made -- i.e. without any other clicking, but in other cases at Facebook, however, even if you make or remove the check marks you still have to SAVE the page in order to save your check mark settings. Notifications is one such page. If you go to the exhausting job of customizing those 72 check-mark settings and then think you have it done, if you do not scroll  this page all the way down to the bottom and click the Save Changes button, it was all for nothing. The checkbox settings then revert to the default setting - with everything checked. There is method in this madness.

Check also everything under the other tabs:

Mobile (you can activate Facebook to send you text messages -- at your risk)
Language (set your Facebook language)
Payments (something we avoid, if possible)
Facebook Ads, which writes as follows (LOOK OUT !!!!!):
"Facebook does not give third party applications or ad networks the right to use your name or picture in ads. If this is allowed in the future, this setting will govern the usage of your information."
If Facebook follows past practice this "allowed in the future" will be a default check mark permitting the use of your name and photo for some advertised product or service unless you opt out. Again, we think this default "opt in" practice would be illegal -- even under current privacy laws -- as an invasion of privacy of the worst kind.

In any case, our first impression of Facebook is being confirmed -- raw social exploitation.

International and Domestic Liltigants: "Nerve Center" Test for Corporate Citizenship in the United States

We had intended - but forgot - to post about this some time ago because it is an important case both for international as well as domestic litigants:

O'Melveny Secures Unanimous US Supreme Court Victory for Hertz; Court Adopts "Nerve Center" Test for Corporate Citizenship

Congress: U.S. Lawmakers Release Draft Legislation of New Online and Offline Privacy Rules as Legislators Seek to Provide Protections Afforded by e.g. European Union EU Law

New Congressional draft legislation outlining online and offline privacy rules has been released.

Stephanie Clifford at the New York Times writes in Privacy Bill Finally in Draft, as Both Sides Weigh In:
"A long-awaited draft of a Congressional bill would push American privacy legislation closer to the strict rules that the European Union uses, and would extend privacy protections both on the Internet and offline."
Need we say that EU privacy law is years ahead of the USA? Whatever legislation the USA adopts, it is bound to be too weak by European standards.

Andy Greenberg writes at in New Web Ad Privacy Bill Riles All Sides:
"Rick Boucher, D-Va., and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., released a draft Tuesday of a privacy bill aimed at defining broad new regulations for the data collection practices of online advertising. The bill would require sites to offer easier methods of letting users prevent their behavior from being tracked online, warn users about data collection with a symbol on Web pages and require sites to render anonymous any data they collect after 18 months."
We do not understand why it is so difficult in the U.S. to comprehend that many people and companies in the United States are running roughshod in the Internet over the privacy rights of users and that stricter laws are inevitable, sooner -- or after much damage -- later. Stomping on privacy rights under the argument that it is essential for advertising is nonsense -- it is only essential so that the greedy among us can make even more money than they already do.

The recent push of Facebook to Share Your Info for Money has to be about the most egregious privacy invasion -- even by current law -- that we have seen in this millennium. If Congress does not have the courage to pass strict legislation, the country will have to pay the price down the road.

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