Facebook drew back the curtain Wednesday on new privacy settings designed to keep users’ personal information more secure, but consumer advocates say the social networking site’s update will still leave some information vulnerable.
Because that data remain at risk, users should take caution with the information they post on Facebook, these advocates say.
Parry Aftab, the executive director for Wired Safety, a consumer resource that focuses on online security and privacy, says she has a simple test for gauging which information is Facebook-safe. “Would you put it on a sign in front of your house?” she says. “That’s got to be your measure.” (Wired Safety is one of five groups that sit on Facebook’s unpaid safety advisory board.)
Facebook has come under fire from users since December, when policy changes made more of users’ information open by default, unless they activated controls to keep it private. The outcry picked up in late April when the social networking site began pilot testing an “instant personalization” feature that allowed partner sites visited by a user to pull data from his or her profile and automatically share it with others. (For example, the feature could inform users’ Facebook friends that they had been using the Internet radio station Pandora to listen to Justin Bieber.) To avoid having their information shared, consumers must actively opt out on Facebook and on the partner sites, but they could still unwillingly have their information shared if their friends didn’t opt out, as well. The policy changes spawned user complaints, as well as concern from consumer advocates, Congress and the Federal Trade Commission.
Facebook’s new policy, which it plans to roll out in coming weeks, will provide simpler controls, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a conference call. Among the changes:
• Basic privacy setting controls will be condensed to a single page, reformatted as a chart so that users can easily review who has access to what.
• Once a user chooses who can see a particular type of content — “friends only” for photos, for example, or “friends of friends” for status updates — that choice will apply retroactively and going forward in the case of future policy changes.
• Opt-outs for “instant personalization” and other applications that access a user’s profile will be made easier.
• Users can opt out of sharing information with Facebook platform and third-party apps, even if what’s collected is something consumers have set that “everyone” can access. Apps must also ask permission to access any information a user has set to more private settings.
Although the new policy addresses some of users’ concerns, it doesn’t do enough to protect their information, says Jeffrey Chester, the founder and executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy, an advocacy group focused on digital media.
“It does not bode well for protecting privacy on Facebook in the future,” he says. Of particular concern: Facebook’s desire to share user data with advertisers to better target the ads that appear on pages. Policy changes have weakened users’ ability to opt out as that business grows, Chester says.
A Facebook spokesman says the site doesn’t sell currently user data to advertisers or anyone else and that the company’s revenues are not tied to how open its users are with their information.
Here’s how to navigate the new settings and keep your profile secure:
1) Review Settings
Simpler controls may help most users, but an opt-out system will do little for users who don’t look at those controls, says Paul Stephens, the director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. Unless users say otherwise, everything is shared. Use the “preview my profile tool” on Facebook’s privacy settings pages to see what others can spot. Also consider downloading the free tool at ReclaimPrivacy.org, which flags unsecure settings and offers tips to revise them.
2) Eliminate ‘Everyone’
Users would do well to stop thinking of social networks as somehow cut off from the broader Internet. “People understand that when they tweet [using Twitter.com], that it’s a broadcast to the world,” Aftab says. Anything in Facebook settings that’s available to “everyone” is available publicly in the same fashion, potentially showing up to anyone who clicks on your profile, visits sites such as OpenBook or conducts a search on Google (GOOG, News. “Don’t post it unless you want your parents, the police, predators and your principal [or boss] to see it,” she says.
3) Opt for Security
Facebook’s new policy still allows users to specify restrictions post by post. Opt for a more secure setting and tighten or loosen it further if the situation calls for it, Aftab suggests. For example, users can set photo sharing to “friends only” but then specify that their boss can’t view the newly uploaded pictures from a recent party. On the other hand, they can broaden a job-hunt status update to include “friends of friends,” instead of just people in their immediate circle.
4) Share With Caution
Even information shared with “friends only” could pose a security threat if a friend’s account is hacked or a bug occurs, Stephens says. Seemly innocuous data, such as a birthday, a mother’s maiden name or a favorite pet’s name is enough for hackers and identity thieves to do serious damage. “You’re providing a source of data that might be used by a hacker to access password-restricted sites,” he says.
There’s also the embarrassment factor. In February, a temporary bug resulted in a handful of Facebook users receiving hundreds of private messages meant for others. In early May, another glitch allowed users to view friends’ private chats with other people.
Facebook drew back the curtain Wednesday on new privacy settings designed to keep users’ personal information more secure, but consumer advocates say the social networking site’s update will still leave some information vulnerable.
In Facebook’s vision of the Web, you would no longer be alone and anonymous. Sites would reflect your tastes and interests — as you expressed them on the social network — and you wouldn’t have to fish around for news and songs that interest you.
Standing in the way is growing concern about privacy from Facebook users — most recently complaints that the site forced them to share personal details with the rest of the online world or have them removed from Facebook profiles altogether.
Facebook responded to the backlash Wednesday by announcing it is simplifying its privacy controls and applying them retroactively, so users can protect the status updates and photos they have posted in the past.
“A lot of people are upset with us,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged at a news conference at Facebook’s Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters.
The changes came after Facebook rolled out a slew of new features in April that spread its reach to the broader Web. Among them was a program called “instant personalization” that draws information from a person’s profile to customize sites such as the music service Pandora. Some users found it creepy, not cool.
Privacy groups have complained to regulators, and some people threatened to quit the site. Even struggling MySpace jumped in to capitalize on its rival’s bad press by announcing a “new, simpler privacy setting.”
To address complaints its settings were getting too complex, Facebook will now give users the option of applying the same preferences to all their content, so that with one click you can decide whether to share things with just “friends” or with everyone.
For those who found it complicated to prevent outside websites and applications from gaining access to Facebook data, there’s now a way to do so in a couple of clicks.
It’s not clear whether the changes will quell the unease among Facebook users, which has threatened to slow the site’s breakneck evolution from a scrappy college network to an Internet powerhouse with nearly a half-billion people.
“They’ve lost the users’ trust. That’s the problem,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group. “In the earlier days, there was time to regain it. It’s not so clear now. I think it’s getting more serious than making changes and moving on.”
Some of Facebook’s loudest critics offered cautious praise but indicated the young company will need to do more to prove it cares about privacy.
Sen. Charles Schumer called it a “significant first step that Facebook deserves credit for,” but added he’d still prefer that Facebook require users to actively turn on sharing with outside sites, rather than having sharing be the default setting.
For some users, the problem has been that the company has changed its privacy settings so often that keeping up with them became too much. Before Wednesday’s announcement, Craig Mather, a 28-year-old graduate student in Portland, Ore., was already complaining of having to adjust his privacy settings every time Facebook comes up with a new plan.
“It puts us on our guard, where we feel like we are trying to plug a leak,” he said.
For Facebook, being seen as a company people can trust with the personal details of their lives is key. Users will only share information if they have control over who sees it.
“The kernel of what we do is that people want to stay connected and share with those around them,” Zuckerberg said.
Jules Polonetsky, a former AOL executive who now co-chairs the Washington-based Future of Privacy Forum, said the privacy concerns stem from Facebook’s transformation from a place to socialize with friends into the “de-facto identity system for the Web.” It’s a big step. Facebook is no longer just a place to share photos and play “Mafia Wars.” It’s a reflection of who you are online.
Facebook has touted its culture of authenticity from the beginning. It asks users to go by their real names on the site, and it deletes obviously fake profiles.
Zuckerberg described his vision for the Web in April with “an old saying that says when you go to heaven, all of your friends are there and everything is just the way you want it to be.” He challenged software developers, entrepreneurs and others to make “a world that’s that good.”
Facebook’s lifeblood is advertising. It makes money by letting businesses target ads to specific types of users — such as 30-year-old single men living in Brooklyn who are interested in motorcycles and yoga.
Zuckerberg, who turned 26 earlier this month, says his vision is not about the ad dollars. He was 22, he said, when “Yahoo and Viacom and all these companies” were clamoring to buy Facebook, offering $1 billion or more. For a 22-year-old to pass that up might be kind of crazy, he acknowledged, but he said it shows “it’s not about the money.”
Even so, convincing people that sharing more is good for them has at times been an uphill battle. Users revolted against Beacon, a feature that broadcast people’s activities on dozens of outside sites when it launched in 2007. Facebook gave people more control over Beacon before scrapping the program completely as part of a legal settlement.
More recently, Facebook has come under fire for a security glitch that exposed some users’ private chats, and another that revealed users’ information to advertisers in a way they could identify them, going against Facebook’s own terms of service.
For Luke Finsaas, who is 24 and has been using Facebook since college to keep in touch with friends and family in Australia, whether the site’s vision works out in the end is a matter of trust.
“It’s incredibly brilliant but wildly terrifying,” he said. “Google has been around for a while, and we know that they are pretty serious about privacy and protecting us. We know that they’ve got our back. But Facebook has had privacy issues in the past.”
Google Inc. has struggled with its own privacy issues — most recently with its Buzz social media experiment and, particularly in Europe, with sending cameras into cities to take photos for its Street View map feature.
But users feel a deeper connection with Facebook, where they exchange not just messages and 140-character tweets but news of major life events and newborn baby photos. That means privacy concerns are heightened, too.
“Facebook wants to be the social center of the Web, and any social interaction that takes place on the Web they want to be in control of,” said Debra Aho Williamson, a senior analyst at research firm eMarketer. “If its plan succeeds, that could be a big problem. They will have access to too much information.”
Facebook doesn’t have to be all fun and games. Check out these business-focused applications that give your friends–and potential future employers–a glimpse into your on-the-clock life.
Sure, trivial and time-guzzling Facebook Apps abound (Farmville, anyone?), but—believe it or not— other applications can add a hint of professionalism to your profile. You can include your LinkedIn profile, add your blog feed, include a Twitter tab and more.
Each of these applications requires that you allow it access to your profile. To edit each application’s individual settings, choose “Application Settings” from the “Account” drop-down menu. From here, you can control who is able to see the application from your profile, if you want to bookmark it and whether you give the application permission to publish recent activity to your wall.
You may also choose to add the application to the tabs on your profile for easy access. Note that some applications may not support tabs, and some may automatically add the tab to your profile as part of the setup. To add an app to a tab, click the “+” tab on your profile page’s navigation and select the application.
1. Extended Info.
This application won the 2007 Red Bull Flight Experience award for the most users since the Facebook Platform Launch in May, 2007. Instead of just having you fill out the usual fields such as activities, interests and favorite music, Extended Info lets you think up additional fields for your profile. Add a professional spin to your profile and include fields such as: currently reading, career goals or proudest workplace accomplishment. You can check out a list of the most popular field titles here.
2. My LinkedIn.
To add the My LinkedIn app to your profile, the site asks you to enter your LinkedIn Public Profile URL. You can find this by logging into your LinkedIn account, choosing “view profile” and looking for the URL next to “public profile.” This application does not automatically add a tab to your profile, so follow the directions above to do so.
NetworkedBlogs lets you do two things: You can search for and add favorite or new blogs to rollout RSS-style stories, or you can import your blog feed to your profile, which lets your blog appear in a Facebook search so others can follow it.
After you allow the application access to your profile, you’ll be asked to select five or more blogs from a list to follow, if you’d like the application to act like an RSS feed. If you only want to feature your blog, just click “next” at the bottom to bypass this step. The next page will list blogs from your Facebook friends; choose to follow some, or click next to continue. The final screen will bring you to NetworkedBlogs’ homepage where you can choose to register your own blog, which will require an additional step to verify it. Follow the steps listed above to add the blog to a tab on your profile.
The TwitterTab adds your Twitter feed to a tab on your profile and gives you three viewing options: a running list of your tweets, filtering out retweets only or viewing who you follow in a block of icons.
There are a number of other Twitter applications available on Facebook—some let you Tweet from Facebook and include additional features—but many are buggy. TwitterTab appears to have the simplest interface and is easy to set up. This app is free, but for $1.00/year you can upgrade your account to include a custom background.
Save time and money with our favorite secret tricks for Google, Facebook, YouTube, eBay, and several other sites you already use.
Think you know all of the tricks at your favorite Internet sites? Think again.
Even if you’re on Google, Facebook, and YouTube every day, you might not be tapping those sites’ full potential. Read on to speed up your Internet abilities, unlock new features, and find a new favorite tip or two.
Search within a site: Narrow down your search results to a single site. Type (search query) site:(domain); an example would be entering: video card tips site:pcworld.com to find pages only at that location. You can even limit results to within sections of a site, as in this example: twitter site:pcworld.com/businesscenter.
Search for file types: Maybe you want to track down a certain document that’s a PDF. Enter your usual search string plus filetype:pdf to find only those pages. This method also works with PostScript (ps), Office docs (doc, ppt, xls), Rich Text (rtf), Plain Text (txt), and more. You can find a list of searchable file types here.
Exclude results: Include a minus sign to exclude certain results. Suppose you want to find news about Apple unrelated to the iPad. Type Apple -iPad. You can also combine the previous tips, such as Apple -iPad -site:apple.com and Apple -iPad -PDF.
Get local details: Forget manual time conversion; just enter time [city] (as in Time Tokyo) to get the current local time. Or try weather [city] for a forecast. For more local details, try [city] map, movies [city or ZIP code], and [restaurant name or cuisine] [city or ZIP code]. This works for a few other regular search strings, like Weather [city], stock quotes, and more–check out Google’s full list.
Make conversions: Swap units of measure, such as measurements of volume or distance; this works for converting different currencies, too. Try [number and unit] in [new unit] such as 7 inches in cm or 30 Euros in USD.
Find links to files: Find pages that host or lead to certain file types, such as music. Enter [search term] contains:[file type] such as Wilco contains:MP3 to find MP3s from the band Wilco. Try this kind of search with many other file types, such as WMA, PDF, AAC, DOC, and nearly anything else.
Remove the background image: Bing sure is cute, but its big photos can be distracting. Visit http://www.bing.com/?rb=0 for a plain, gray version of the site.
Save searches as RSS feeds: If you want to stay on top of hits to a search query, turn it into an RSS feed. After loading your results, append &format=rss to the end of the new URL, and view it in your favorite RSS reader.
Fix Your Facebook
Hide application notices: Are you sick of Farmville, Mafia Wars, and other Facebook apps cluttering your feed? Mouse over the entry, and click Hide. You’ll block those alerts from your wall.
Invite a list of friends to an event: You don’t have to manually click a bunch of friends to send event invitations. Instead, create a list first. Click Friends in the left column, and use Create a List on top to pick certain friends. When making an event invitation, click the Filter Friends tab to show only the list. Click Select All.
Hide content from certain contacts: Keep your mom and work acquaintances from seeing messages intended for your inner circle. Click the lock privacy icon, and choose Customize.
From there, you can hide the post from specific people, or show it only to your entourage. For more on Facebook’s privacy settings, read “Protect Your Privacy With the New Facebook Settings.”
Cut to the core: The Lite version of Facebook strips away most of the clutter in the main design. It’s great if you’re on a slow Internet connection, browsing on a netbook, or just want to avoid the usual mess.
Browse to lite.facebook.com to give it a try, and click the link at the top of the page to toggle back to the full site.
Schedule tweets: You can set up a schedule for your Twitter account, so posts can go up while you are asleep, or–heaven forbid–are away from your gadgets.
This way, you’ll be able to tweet across time zones (so your international followers won’t have to scroll all the way down to hear from you, perhaps), and keep your Twitter account active when you need to focus on a project.
Many sites offer this feature, including HootSuite, SocialOomph, and Twuffer. I like Twuffer for its simplicity, although the others have additional features, such as Facebook support.
Get deals by following companies: Some of your favorite companies might post deals to Twitter. You’ll have to sort away businesses that spam followers too often.
If you really want to step up your hustle, make a new Twitter account specifically for landing freebies so the spam won’t get to your real one. Keep it all straight with a twitter client that manages multiple accounts, such as Tweetdeck. Also, check out “How to Win Prizes on Twitter” for more tips.
Learn about current events: Look for your local Happen.in feed, which charts Twitter chatter based on your location.
If a bunch of people in the same area post “bridge out,” Happen.in will repost the details so that you keep on track of regional events and trends. The Twitter Website includes similar functionality in the right-hand column. Adjust those Trending settings to set it for your area.
Expand URLs: Shortened links could send you to a funny YouTube clip, a popular article in the New York Times, or a site designed to riddle your PC with malware. Use a Greasemonkey script (a Firefox add-on) and just hover your mouse over the cryptic URL to see the full version at the bottom of the window.
If you’re in a different browser, try pbtweet or read How to Use Greasemonkey Scripts in IE, Chrome, and Safari for more details.
Texting Tips and Smartphone Secrets
Toggle mobile formatting: Many Websites detect your mobile browser and offer up a mobile version of themselves with bigger fonts and simpler formatting. If a site doesn’t do this automatically, try putting m. or mobile. at the front of the Web address (URL), as in http://mobile.pcworld.com.
If you want to swap a mobile site into its full, PC design, look for a link at the top or bottom of the page.
Get e-mail as texts: You can have email messages sent to your phone as texts, which can be convenient. Maybe your RSS reader can forward content as e-mail, and you want to be alerted to updates in a rarely used feed.
Enter your 10-digit mobile phone number prefix and carrier suffix, such as email@example.com. Here’s a list of other carriers. Also, read “10 Killer Texting Tricks” for more SMS goodness.
Send text messages from AIM: Your PC can send texts to a mobile phone for free. Within an AIM client, send a text to the number with + and the country code prefix. For example, a San Francisco message might be directed to +14151112222.
eBay and Craigslist
Mind your eBay reserve: Tiptoe through starting prices when auctioning off an item to save money. If you’re pricing something near eBay’s thresholds of $1, $10, $25, $50, and $200, cut back by just a cent to save yourself a little cash, which can add up for high-volume sales.
If you list something at $199.99 for example, eBay charges $1. For a $200 starting price, eBay charges $2. For more information, check out the eBay Fees page.
Spell poorly: If you’re buying hard-to-spell product, try searching for misspelling or common typos (“playstaion”), or enter * as a text wildcard such as “playst*”. (eBay will find hits for one or more additional characters.)
You might stumble over auctions that others haven’t found–which means less bidding competition. If selling, enter a few of those errors into your listing to snare misspelled searches (though probably not in the title–you don’t want to disappear from the correctly-spelled search results).
Search Craigslist with RSS: Keeping an eye out for a free leather couch on Craigslist? Save yourself from searching every 10 minutes by setting up an RSS feed for the search results by entering your search within Craigslist and clicking the RSS button in the lower-right to add it to your RSS reader of choice.
Entertainment Extras: YouTube, Hulu, Flickr, iTunes, and Xbox Live
Download YouTube and Hulu: Watch online videos away from the Internet by downloading them to your PC. The simplest methods usually work best for noncommercial video, such as random YouTube home movies. But at press time, I got StreamTransport to save videos even from Hulu. Play clips back with VLC.
Watch high-quality YouTube: Bump up the resolution in supported clips. Just click the number and arrow in the play bar; it’s likely 360p by default. Pick a higher number for the best quality.
Link straight to part of a YouTube clip: Instead of sending people to the beginning of a clip, you can create a link that plays from a spot in the middle that you choose. Just add #t=[number]m[number]s to the end of the URL, such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mf6IQgFxpIA#t=00m11s to begin 11 seconds in.
Initiate console game downloads: Microsoft’s Xbox Live site might seem superfluous on a PC. However, you can queue up downloads and activate purchases through your computer, and when you log in back on the console, they’ll transfer automatically.
Upload to Flickr through e-mail: Instead of manually uploading photos, you can send them through e-mail. This can work well from an old mobile phone to quickly send pictures from a PC. In the Emails & Notifications tab of the Account options, click Create an upload-to-flickr email address to configure the feature.
Search and link to iTunes content in a browser: The iTunes store lives in its own application, but you can access specific apps, songs, searches, or anything else with a URL. To search, try http://itunes.com/[search term] such as http://itunes.com/evernote. If your search comes up with a single result (as in this example), you’ll jump to that page within iTunes. To copy a direct URL to an iTunes store page, right-click an item within iTunes, and choose Copy Link.
Turns out all the leaked photos of Microsoft’s “Project Pink” phones were real. Targeted squarely at young “social” chatters looking to share their every waking moment with the world, the Kin One and Kin Two boast slide-out QWERTY keypads, Zune media players, multi-touch displays, and more social networking tools than you could shake a stick at. No app store, though.
Set for release in the “beginning” of May exclusively on Verizon Wireless (no pricing details or exact release dates yet), the Kin One and Two look like a combination of the T-Mobile’s old Sidekick sliders (which were developed by a company now owned by Microsoft) and Motorola’s new Motoblur service, which pushes an endless stream of Twitter, Facebook, Windows Live, and MySpace updates to Moto’s Android phones.
While the two new Kins run on an OS that’s based on the “same core elements” as Windows Phone 7, they’re not actually Windows Phone 7 handsets; instead, they’re both powered by a custom, pared-down OS that emphasizes social networking, music, and content sharing.
Both Kins are slider phones, but their respective form factors are slightly different. Kin One is shaped more like an oval, with a compact QWERTY keypad, a 5-megapixel camera, an LED flash, and SD video recording; the Kin Two has more of a traditional rectangular shape with a larger keypad and display, an 8MP lens, and full-on 720p video recording.
main event, though, is something called the Kin Loop: a tiled mash-up of status updates from your Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter pals (similar to the stream of updates you’d see on Motorola’s Motoblur-enabled phones), contacts, email and SMS alerts, recent photos and videos, you name it.
Sitting at the bottom of the display is a little green dot, called the Kin Spot, that lets you quickly share photos, videos, Web pages, and location info with any of your contacts; basically, you just tap and drag the content you want to share onto the Spot, then tap again to choose one or more contacts, or just tap to share with all your Facebook, Twitter, and/or MySpace buddie.
Another cool feature reminiscent of the old, cloud-based Sidekick is the Kin Studio, a snazzy personalized Web page that automatically backs up all your Kin contacts, photos, videos, and messages online, complete with a timeline that lets you “relive” your Kin events for any given month, week, or day. Of course, Microsoft will have to be careful to prevent any of the online meltdowns that plagued Sidekick users in October.
Gizmodo fills in several of the details missing from the Microsoft press release, such as storage capacity (4GB for the Kin One, 8GB for the Two, not expandable), processor (Nvidia Tegra for both handsets), and the inclusion of Wi-Fi support. But note, you won’t be able to install any apps on the Kins whatsoever. Huh.
Of course, the crucial detail we’re missing here is a price tag. Speculation is that the handsets won’t cost any more than $150 with a two-year Verizon contract. But given the fact that the Kins won’t have an app store, I’m thinking more like $99 for the Kin Two, $49 for the One. (The phones will also arrive in Europe this fall via Vodafone.)
With more than 400 million active visitors, Facebook is arguably the most popular social networking site out there. And while the site is known for the casual social aspect, many users also use it as a professional networking tool. With that kind of reach, Facebook can be a valuable tool for connecting to former and current colleagues, clients and potential employers. In fact, surveys suggest that approximately 30% of employers are using Facebook to screen potential employees — even more than those who check LinkedIn, a strictly professional social networking site. Don’t make these Facebook faux-pas — they might cost you a great opportunity.
1. Inappropriate Pictures
It may go without saying, but prospective employers or clients don’t want to see pictures of you chugging a bottle of wine or dressed up for a night at the bar. Beyond the pictures you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see, seemingly innocent pictures of your personal life will likely not help to support the persona you want to present in your professional life.
2. Complaining About Your Current Job
You’ve no doubt done this at least once. It could be a full note about how much you hate your office, or how incompetent your boss is, or it could be as innocent as a status update about how your coworker always shows up late. While everyone complains about work sometimes, doing so in a public forum where it can be found by others is not the best career move. Though it may seem innocent, it’s not the kind of impression that sits well with a potential boss.
3. Posting Conflicting Information to Your Resume
If you say on your resume that your degree is from Harvard, but your Facebook profile says you went to UCLA, you’re likely to be immediately cut from the interview list. Even if the conflict doesn’t leave you looking better on your resume, disparities will make you look at worst like a liar, and at best careless.
4. Statuses You Wouldn’t Want Your Boss to See
Everyone should know to avoid statuses like “Tom plans to call in sick tomorrow so he can get drunk on a Wednesday. Who cares that my big work project isn’t done?” But you should also be aware of less flamboyant statuses like “Sarah is watching the gold medal hockey game online at her desk”. Statuses that imply you are unreliable, deceitful, and basically anything that doesn’t make you look as professional as you’d like, can seriously undermine your chances at landing that new job.
5. Not Understanding Your Security Settings
The security settings on Facebook have come a long way since the site started. It is now possible to customize lists of friends and decide what each list can and cannot see. However, many people do not fully understand these settings, or don’t bother to check who has access to what. If you are going to use Facebook professionally, and even if you aren’t, make sure you take the time to go through your privacy options. At the very least, your profile should be set so that people who are not your friend cannot see any of your pictures or information.
6. Losing by Association
You can’t control what your friends post to your profile (although you can remove it once you see it), nor what they post to their own profiles or to those of mutual friends. If a potential client or employer sees those Friday night pictures your friend has tagged you in where he is falling down drunk, it reflects poorly on you, even if the picture of you is completely innocent. It’s unfortunate, but we do judge others by the company they keep, at least to some extent. Take a look at everything connected to your profile, and keep an eye out for anything you wouldn’t want to show your mother.
Facebook Can Help You Get Hired … or Fired
The best advice is to lock down your personal profile so that only friends you approve can see anything on that profile. Then, create a second, public profile on Facebook purely for professional use. This profile functions like an online resume, and should only contain information you’d be comfortable telling your potential employer face to face. Having a social networking profile is a good thing — it presents you as technologically and professionally savvy. Just make sure your profile is helping to present your best side — not the side that got drunk at your buddy’s New Year’s party.
Mashable yesterday noted that Apple has rolled out revamped App Store pages in Facebook offering full browsing and search access for the store.
In the Featured tab on the App Store’s Facebook page, you can see top apps and view the sales charts for paid and free apps across different categories. This is the same information that you would get from iTunes or from the App Store application on your iPhone or iPod touch, but it’s all in Facebook.
Clicking the “Get App” button links users directly to the iTunes Preview or iTunes page for the item, allowing for easy purchase and installation. The new layout also incorporates a “Share” function to allow users to post links to items on their walls. A separate “Search & Share” tab moves things beyond the top apps lists to allow for full searching of the App Store.
Vitrue, the company behind the project, notes that the App Store pages are built on the same technology that powers the existing iTunes Facebook pages and will be expanded in the future to offer additional searching and sharing tools.
QR codes, or 2-D bar codes that work with cell phone cameras, could change the way we use Facebook. But would you use the tech?
QR codes—or “quick response” codes—since learning of them in a story last year about how a Texas town implemented them as part of a modernization project. QR codes have been huge in Europe and Asia for years, but the technology hasn’t gained traction in the U.S.
Until, perhaps, now.
QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that are read by an application for cell phones equipped with a camera. You scan the code with your cell’s camera and the browser brings you to a site with more information on the designated item. For example, that Texas town placed QR codes on landmarks; scanning the codes brought visitors to a website that described in more detail what they were looking at.
Now, it appears that Facebook may be rolling out QR codes to profiles—there are reports that some users have already received the two features—”View QR Barcode” and “Generate status QR barcode”—but as of yet, they don’t seem to be functioning.
If Facebook does decide to roll out the feature, it would undoubtedly send the QR code technology mainstream—and could change the way we use Facebook.
Consider these two scenarios: You meet someone at a conference and instantly connect with them via a QR code printed on their business card. Or you pass an advertisement for a product and instantly access its Facebook fan page to learn more. Using QR codes will be another way to blur the lines between digital and physical relationships.
By no means are Twitter and Facebook perfect: You might wish that Facebook made it more intuitive to hide FarmVille or certain status updates. Or, maybe you wish that Twitter would introduce a new feature like nested tweets. Good news: For many of these website tweaks or suggestions, there’s likely to be a script you can download to fit the bill.
Here are my top eight picks for Facebook and Twitter add-ons. Many of these solve common user gripes (such as not knowing to what site shortened URLs will bring you on Twitter). Some, like “Facebook Fixer,” enhance the site and allow you to customize it beyond standard options. Do note that most of these scripts require that you first download Greasemonkey, and not all are compatible with every browser, so be sure to check the requirements before you download a script.
1. Facebook Fixer.
This script lets you customize your Facebook account and offers many features that are enabled by default, but can be enabled or disabled independently. Some of these features include: larger profile and album pictures; homepage customization where you can hide independent sections such as pokes, suggestions and “connect with friends”; and calendar integration, which includes a link on each profile that synchs birthdays with Google Calendar, or the option to export a file with all your friends’ birthdays, which can be imported into sites such as Google Calendar, Yahoo, Apple iCal, Microsoft Outlook and more.
2. Facebook Purity.
The Facebook Purity script cleans up your homepage and removes all newsfeed items from third-party games such as Mafia Wars and FarmVille, and zaps announcements on who’s become friend with who, who’s attending a certain event, who joined a group and who became a fan of something. Optional items you can block include: comments on a status, photo, photo album or link; tags in a photo or photo album; and event postings.
3. Unfriend Finder.
Ever wonder if you’ve been dropped by a Facebook friend? Every time you log in, the script checks to see if someone is missing from your friend list. When the script detects someone is no longer your friend, you get a notification and a bubble counter in the Facebook toolbar. There are two types of “unfriends:” Either you removed them from your friend list or they removed you (but they’re still on Facebook), or they deactivated their account and are no longer on Facebook. If they reactivate their account, you’ll also be notified.
4. No Facebook Ads.
If you’re tired of the age-targeted ads Facebook runs, take advantage of this script. Downloading it will remove ads from your Facebook account-including flyer ads, network ads, bumper ads-leaving its appearance a lot cleaner.
5. TinyURL Decoder.
While URL shorteners do save space on Twitter, you’re often clicking at your own risk-phishing scams and spam-laden direct messages are becoming more and more common on the microblogging site. This script decodes the shortened URLs on Twitter’s website and displays the original URL, so you can decide whether or not to click.
6. Nested Twitter Replies.
Twitter’s website still only allows you to view @replies in a list, which can be confusing if you’re trying to follow a conversation. Applying this script automatically displays tweets in a nested conversation format, making it easier to follow.
7. @Troynt’s Twitter Script.
This Twitter script does it all. Among its many features: expansion of Links in tweets; inline inclusion of YouTube videos and Twitpic images; nested tweets; option to save, reply to or retweet a tweet when you hover over it; autocompletion of a username when you begin typing “@” in a tweet and much more.
8. Twitter Old Style RT Emulator.
If you hate Twitter’s retweet button and long for the old method, this script will convert all retweet symbols and user pictures into “RT @username.” Note that this script only works in Safari and Firefox.
Flirtation Creations Inc, an app development and design consultancy offering exceptional graphic and website design launched a new website to better serve its clients.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb 24, 2010 – Boston, MA. USA – Premier online design company, Flirtation Creations, announced it has recently launched a new website to better serve its clients. The new website, http://www.flirtationcreations.com, features the full spectrum of the companies exceptional services, including app development for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, graphic and website design, and corporate and personal branding. The website was launched to give clients even greater access to and understanding of the company’s services, as well as to showcase its portfolio of past work.
As leading app and web developers in Massachusetts, Flirtation Creations has been offering clients high quality, cost-effective graphic design and website solutions since 2000. The companies commitment to providing exceptional customer service combined with Internet expertise has attracted clients throughout the United States, Europe and Africa.
Flirtation Creations offers clients an expansive selection of app development services, graphic design services including logo design, custom website development and more. By establishing long-term relationships with its clients and offering high-end quality online marketing solutions at medium-level prices, Flirtation Creations excels at meeting the needs and budget of every client.
Along with highlighting the companies breadth of services, Flirtation Creations new website also emphasizes what sets it apart from competitors. This includes the companies commitment to providing no hidden contracts or costs, issuing copyright ownership to clients for all work completed, as well as its ethical, honest business approach.
Additionally, Flirtation Creations new website allows clients to review the companies online portfolio, giving them a taste of the firm’s exceptional quality of design. Through the new website, clients can choose to review examples of the companies app development, as well as past logo and website designs.
“Establishing long-term customer relationships is extremely important to Flirtation Creations, which is why we strive to make sure our clients are comfortable and informed throughout the entire design and development process. With our new website, now even more clients can benefit from the extraordinary customer service and online marketing solutions we offer”, says the company’s CEO.