facebook logoDing dong, the witch known as Beacon is dead.

According to CNET, Facebook has finally killed off one of the most controversial online advertising platforms ever launched.  To be honest, I was more surprised it was even still active.

Nearly two years ago, Facebook launched Beacon which was to be a way for activities you did on sites outside of Facebook to automatically be shared in your Facebook news feed.  The problem with it was that it was quite often done without the Facebook users knowing it would happen, so potentially embarrassing and private information could quickly be known to all of your friends on the popular social network.

It was an ill-fated idea from day one, and was such a horrendous failure that a class action lawsuit was filed against Facebook, and there is still a $9.5 million judgement awaiting final approval by a judge.

As someone who was very heavy into tech news blogging when this project launched, all I can say is good riddance.  It was a horrible idea, and it still amazes me no one at Facebook ever said, “You know, this might be a bad idea…”.  Sharing information from third-party sites without explicitly warning the user it was going to happen?  Brilliant!

Categories: Facebook, Opinion   
 

facebook logoEver feel like you don’t spend enough time on Facebook? Well, Vivox is looking to help you spend even more time there!

According to CNET, a Boston-based company named Vivox is currently conducting a closed test of a new application for Facebook users that will allow you to have high quality voice chats with one another.  If you want to add someone into the conversation that is not a member of Facebook, that will also be possible thanks to phone numbers that Vivox will have set up that they can call in to.

The interesting add-on to this story is that the Vivox technology will also be available to be added to the application released by other developers.  You could see voice chat showing up in game applications, a great way for retailers to talk with their customers or maybe even let classmates discuss an assignment or possibly a reunion.

The big question is how this will impact Skype.  Vivox does require you to make a small download to run the conversation, but it should still be smaller than Skype, and also will allow you to run one less application.  It’ll be interesting to see how this will end impacting the popular VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution, but our money is on that Vivox will do well, but it won’t ever kill off Skype.  Why?  Simple, let me know when Vivox is able to give me a real phone number, voice mail and ring through to my cell phone, and then maybe I’ll see it as a “Skype Killer”, for now it’s just a nice add-on to Facebook.

Categories: Facebook, VoIP   
 

facebook logoStill think we are overstating the need to have your Facebook profile of embarrassing items?

According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, forty-five percent of employers are checking sites like Facebook to see the profiles of potential hires before making them an offer.  We have been trying to warn you that employers are checking out your profiles before they hire you to see what type of person you are.

Since the survey last year, the number of employers using social media profiles rose from twenty-two percent to the reported forty-five percent.  Even more frightening is that another eleven percent plan to take up the practice in the next year.

So what caused potential employees to be rules out after their profiles were looked at?  Well, it isn’t pretty:

– Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information - 53 percent
– Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs – 44 percent
– Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients - 35 percent
– Candidate showed poor communication skills – 29 percent
– Candidate made discriminatory comments – 26 percent
– Candidate lied about qualifications – 24 percent– Candidate shared confidential information from previous employer – 20 percent

Social media can be all fun and games, but unfortunately you’re going to have to start having a little less fun online if you want to look for a new job.  There are worst situations of social networking profile pictures actually sending you to jail, but not getting the job you want can be pretty bad in and of itself.

Categories: Facebook, Social Networking   
 

facebook logoWe’ve warned you time and time again about being careful what you put online, but apparently you can’t help the truly clueless.

TheNextWeb.com came across what may be the ultimate example of stupidity in social media.  Apparently a girl was pretty unhappy with her job and needed to vent.  Well, that’s all fine and well, but perhaps you should remember that you friended your boss on Facebook and he can see everything that you write on your wall messages?  Remember, if you friended someone, and you have it marked to be shared, that means they can see it… including your boss.  Here is the situation as it unfolded, kudos to whomever oroginally thought to take screenshots.

fbboss

We’ve already discussed how social media can cost you your relationship, that employers are checking out your profiles before they hire you and how posting pictures of yourself partying can land you in jail, but this may be a new low on the stupidity meter for poor choices in social media usage.

Folks, if you befriend your boss on a social network, don’t whine about your job.

Categories: Facebook, Social Networking   
 

facebook logoDid you remember to get your Facebook vanity URL last night?

In case you missed it, Facebook is finally issuing usernames, something they should have done since day one, but if you weren’t around last night when the flood gates opened, you may have missed out.  According to Bloomberg, user names were being issued at the rate of 550 a second when the race began.

If you haven’t gotten over there yet, it’s still worth a shot, but don’t hold your breath for getting the exact perfect name you may want.  If you do head over to http://www.facebook.com/username/, the site will first suggest some names, some of them rather awkward in my experience, but if you click on the “More” button it will show you some more plus allow you to try to come up with your own.  Luckily I have an odd name, so even though I waited a while to head over there, I still got my name as I wanted it to be.  I wouldn’t give up all hope yet, but I wouldn’t put it off any longer than you need to.

One caveat however before you race to grab your own name, you may want to read Steven Hodson’s excellent piece over at The Inquisitr about why this may end up benefiting Facebook more than any one else.

Categories: Facebook, News   
 

facebook logoFinally, I will no longer be known as http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502499893

In a move that ultra-popular social network Facebook has needed to do since day one, they will be introducing “vanity URLs” at the end of this week.  If you go to http://www.facebook.com/username/ you will see a countdown clock for your local time as to when you will finally be able to choose to choose a username for the service so the address for your profile will look like http://www.facebook.com/yourname.

Up until now you have had an address that was impossible to tell to someone you met at a meeting, in a bar, a professional event or basically anywhere else.  It also was not exactly the most appealing thing to have printed on your business card.  Why they didn’t go this route originally is a mystery, but at least they are correcting their mistake now.

The only flaw with this entire plan is the land rush mentality it is going to inspire.  People are going to have to race to grab their own names when the timer counts down to zero.  If your name is ‘John Smith’, I wouldn’t hold your breath on getting your own name as your URL, but if your name is something more Englebert Humperdink, I would say your odds are a bit higher…

Categories: Facebook, News   
 

fighting couple

Could the ever increasing popularity of social media lead to strife in your relationship?

If the rumor mill is to be believed, Jennifer Anniston, the actress that played “Rachel” on the hit TV series Friends, broke up with her singer boyfriend John C. Mayer over his addiction to the micro blogging site Twitter.  According to the Telegraph, Ms. Anniston was fed up with Mr. Mayer not returning her calls or emails, but yet he kept finding time to update his Twitter account. Jennifer Van Grove of Mashable did a break down of his Tweeting habits, and while it does show a sharp increase in frequency since February, it still works out to only 7.4 Tweets (the nickname for a message on Twitter) per day. Not that high of a number really, but if the story is to be believed, enough to make a couple split up.

Whatever the case between these two love birds is, that really isn’t the point.  The point is that this brings up an intriguing question of the amount of social media hopping people do these days could lead to strife in relationships.  With more and more services popping up on top of the old ones we already have, what are we cutting out of our time each day to check and reply messages, change our status, update our profiles and so on?  Video game sales are on the rise, sales of movie tickets are at an all time high, Americans are watching more TV than ever before, and the list goes on and on of how we are spending more and more tiem detached from the people immediately around us.  You add in social networking, and you can easily see people are running out of free time.

This may sound funny coming from a blog about technology, but maybe it is time we all start backing away from the computer some what.  Do you really need to update your status on Facebook?  Demi Moore, the actress, recently posted a video on Qik of how her husband, actor Ashton Kutcher, was making them late for a plane flight due to his checking his Facebook.  True, he says he is checking for messages from his mom, but he couldn’t have picked up the phone to call and talk to her from the car?  Being on the computer may, at times, feel like something is taking less time, but going to the computer – logging in – clicking on your inbox – reading – replying – sending, that takes less time than picking up a phone to call someone and say, “I love you”?  No, it doesn’t, and you don’t get the pleasure of hearing the other person’s voice.

Just take a deep breath, think before you log in to yet another social network, or send another Tweet, and ask yourself, “Is there someone I should call or spend a moment with in person?”  People are mistaking the connectiveness of social networking with the connectiveness of real-time relationships, and that is just sad.  And certainly don’t get me wrong, I am just as guilty as the next person.  As soon as I hit publish on this article, I’m going for a walk… outside… and I’m not checking my Facebook before I do it, either.

Categories: Facebook, Opinion, Social Networking   
 

facebook logoWhat happens when the world of parents and kids collide online? Embarrassment, what else?

In the early days of ultra-popular social network Facebook, you had to have an email address that ended in .edu to join the site.  It was originally intended as a netork to be directed primarily at college age students, but as time went on, they opened their doors wider to all comers, and now it seems that parents are finding the wonders of the site, much to the disappointment of their children.

The site has been well known as a place for students to post drunken pictures of themselves after a weekend of debauchery, but while that was already a bad idea due to school officials and employers finding them, what do you do when your parents see them?  Better yet, what do you do when your parents try to act “hip” and get in to all of the Facebook fun?  That is the question being put forth by MyParentsJoinedFacebook.com.

Examples of some of the best parent moments on the social network are being gathered up (an example below) to let every one see just how much fo a nightmare it can be.  With the ever increasing popularity of Facebook, especially with people trying to find old friends, wasn’t this sort of inevitable?  Enjoy the discomfort folks, it isn’t going away any time soon.

parents on facebook

Categories: Facebook, Opinion   
 

facebook logoAfter much criticism from the public, Facebook has reverted to their old Terms of Service… for now.

In the very early hours of Monday morning USA time, Facebook changed their Terms of Service, the boring legalese rules of any site out there that hardly any one ever reads. Well, someone did read the changes, and what followed was a vicious firestorm of bad press for the ultra-popular social network.

This is what the old version said.

You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.

The new version of the ToS said:

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

Where it got even a little bit scarier is where is clued you in as to when this license would expire… never. The following is from the “Termination” section.

The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.

Essentially Facebook was telling its users that the moment you uploaded anything to their system, it became their property forever, even if you left the service. Not only could they hold on to it forever, they could do anything they please with it, including selling it, without ever having to acknowledge you as the creator of the work, or they could even use it in advertising if they so desired. Imagine how you would feel 10 years from now having that picture of you doing a keg stand showing up on a billboard across from the office where you are interviewing for a new job.

The collective cry of outrage was deafening online, finally prompting the very reclusive CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg,to take to the company blog on Monday afternoon and try to clear up some of the hard feelings people were having towards the new ToS.  He makes valid points that they need a license that covers the copy of an image that resides in a user’s inbox even if you should leave the service.  This is a good point, but it still doesn’t explain why they felt the need to say that they could also basically do anything they could ever dream of with your content.  As Adam Ostrow of Mashable said:

Ultimately, Facebook’s stance can be summarized as “trust us, we won’t do anything bad.”

Right around the same time Mr. Zuckerberg posted his response, Amanda L. French posted a comparison of the Facebook ToS with those of other services such as MySpace, Flickr, YouTube and so on.  To be blunt, it showed Facebook in a terrible light, and it fueled the user revolt even more.

To really get a feeling for how users felt about the ToS, yesterday Facebook polled their users to find out how they felt about the new rules, and the results showed 56% wanted them changed, 36% were fine with them and 8% didn’t know/didn’t care.  While not an overwhelming majority, it was still a sign people were annoyed, and so Facebook gave in and changed back to the old ToS.

facebook_tos

While this may be a victory for the users of Facebook, some of the decision may have been prompted by the news that the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) announcing that they were preparing to file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over the new ToS.  Either way, the roll back has happened, but as Duncan Riley of The Inquisitr points out, it is not time to rest and just forget this happened because they still plan to rewrite the rules again, and if the users don’t express their views now, we could end up going through this whole drama all over again when the newest version is released.

On a personal note, I didn’t agree with the ToS at all, but honestly I’ve always pretty much thought that anything uploaded to the Internet becomes uncontrollable once it is out there, this just made that thought a bit more official.

Categories: Facebook, News, Opinion   
 

facebook logoWhen is too much information just that?

Over at Mashable, Adam Ostrow wrote up a new Facebook application today called TrueScoop.  On the surface it seems like a fun, and surprisingly free, way to look up information about your friends, but it is also directed at potential employers being able to look into your history to see what type of person you are.

TrueScoop allows anyone who installs the application to enter a person’s name and it will search through “millions” of public records to show you about them.  Ever been pulled over for a speeding ticket?  Well, it’s on here (as Mr. Ostrow bravely proved by posting a screen capture of one of his own)  This means it will also show any other possible run ins you’ve had with the law whether they be misdemeanors or felonies, your entire arrest record is now avaialble for anyone on Facebook to view.

While this may be a great thing for a family looking to hire a baysitter, or an employer wanting to know about a potential employee, there are two serious problems we see with this application.  The first is the potential for you to get confused with someone else, or for you not be found at all.  True, it does show you the person’s date of birth and a potential location for where they reside, but when I looked up a friend (with their permission) who had moved away from our town eighteen years ago, it still showed him as possibly living here.  An employer could see that and wonder if the information put on an application was truly accurate.  Another friend (again with their permission) that I looked up seemingly doesn’t exist at all.  After 15 minutes of searching, not one record could be returned on her, which might prompt someone who has put too much faith into this system to think that she has given them bogus information.

The second, and far more scary, potential problem is that of stalking.  Perhaps someone is a bit too obsessed with you and they decide to look you up via this system.  They could potentially learn what city you live in or even more.  Imagine this in the case of someone who has escaped an abusive relationship and it gets even scarier.

True, these are all public records the information is being pulled from, but in the past there has always been a fee involved in searching them which is enough to dissuade the casual abuser.  This is the first time I can ever remember there being a truly free public record search, and due to the ability of anyone to do it on a whim, it could potentially turn itno a frightening tool for stalkers, child molestors and things we might even be able to dream of yet.  Use this application with care.

Categories: Facebook, News, Privacy   
 
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