Facebook, social media privacy and Cambridge Analytica

It would appear lots of people are now freaking out about the data they share. Whilst that’s a good thing that people are more privacy aware it’s also a bit late as you’ve been sharing everything for years and those third parties already have your data and revoking access is a bit closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Anyway if you are concerned there are a number of things you can do to reduce the data leakage if you don’t want to delete facebook entirely.

Ad preferences;
This is where you can opt-out of interest based advertising (you will still see ads just not using the data collected to profile you into target segments), you can usually see what segments the company has placed you (based on what you like, sites you visit, other adverts you interact with, location etc). Now you can limit them tracking across the web – however facebook if you want to be able to login with facebook etc you are still letting them track the sites you visit so that’s the convenience trade off. It’s a free service after all and that means you are the product.

Facebook Ad preferences
Google Ad preferences
Twitter Ad preferences
Instagram Ad preference (see Facebook advert preferences)

If you are in the EU you can also use Your Online Choices to opt-out of many advertising networks that track you in a similar way (usually pixels or code snippets on the sites you visit. In North America you have a similar option at Your Ad Choices.


Sites you are logged in with using some connection (and sharing personal data with);
This is where you can see sites you’ve used the login with Facebook/Twitter/Google/etc. Usually you are sharing public profile information like name and image, other times you are also sharing email address and much more. Some sites ask for friends lists (See the Cambridge Analytica story for why this is bad) and relationship status etc etc. Why do they need this? They don’t. Usually they will suggest it’s so you can invite your friends easily or somethings. Seriously though you can type a name yourself though right?

Facebook login and app data
Google login and app data
Twitter login and app data
Instagram login and app data

Now one thing to consider here is you have already shared this information with the third party. So that quiz you took in 2013 may still have your data even if you remove the access here. When you use facebook or google etc to login always check what data you are sharing and set it to just the bare minimum.

Downloading your data;
In the EU you have a right to see the data a company has about you. Facebook have a tool to allow you to download everything and then browse it easily using your usual browser. It’s cool and worrying when you see all your likes etc in one place.

Facebook data download
Twitter Data
Google allow you to download your data but hey it’s a lot if like me you use photos and gmail.
Instagram I’m not sure if you can yet.


Think of Facebook “as a self-absorbed, petulant brat, one that doesnt understand how to play well with others” | The Wall Blog

“think of Facebook as a self-absorbed, petulant brat, one that doesn’t understand how to play well with others” 


Advertising Age has published what reads as a damning round up of recent activity at Facebook. This includes the controversial recent privacy changes. The point of the piece is that Facebook isn’t a start-up anymore and these are growing pains. Shockingly perhaps, Facebook will be ten next year. Yes, 2013 represents its ninth birthday.However, the piece argues that “despite Facebook’s Harvard-dorm-room roots, the company’s modus operandi is more stubbornly childish than post-collegiate”.  The Ad Age piece says we should “think of Facebook as a self-absorbed, petulant brat, one that doesn’t understand how to play well with others” and that include users, investors, partners, competitors”.

via Think of Facebook “as a self-absorbed, petulant brat, one that doesnt understand how to play well with others” | The Wall Blog.

The Web We Lost – Anil Dash

Really interesting article afrom Anil Dash about how the web has changed, a few points I like are his views on single-sign-on – In 2003, if you introduced a single-sign-in service that was run by a company, even if you documented the protocol and encouraged others to clone the service, you’d be described as introducing a tracking system worthy of the PATRIOT act. There was such distrust of consistent authentication services that even Microsoft had to give up on their attempts to create such a sign-in. Though their user experience was not as simple as today’s ubiquitous ability to sign in with Facebook or Twitter, the TypeKey service introduced then had much more restrictive terms of service about sharing data. And almost every system which provided identity to users allowed for pseudonyms, respecting the need that people have to not always use their legal names.

Also his view on personal websites – In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites, instead of being dependent on a few big sites to host their online identity. In this vision, you would own your own domain name and have complete control over its contents, rather than having a handle tacked on to the end of a huge company’s site. This was a sensible reaction to the realization that big sites rise and fall in popularity, but that regular people need an identity that persists longer than those sites do.

via The Web We Lost – Anil Dash.

Gaydar relaunches app, but will it unseat Grindr?

So gaydar have finally relaunched their iPhone application. It’s about time too. They used to be the pioneers in dating websites but have let the likes of Grindr and Bender make inroads into the space.

The previous version of the app was abysmal and buggy, wiping peoples website profiles and generally not what you would expect from QSoft. The new revamped version of the app is slick looking in greys and orange, there are still some niggles though which I’d have liked to see fixed, it’s always confused me why usernames aren’t shown on the thumbnails page.

It’s a vast improvement though. The location settings now seem to work which may yet erode into the website paid service as previously this was part of the premium package. Also unlike the new rivals on the block gaydar still has a pay model carried over from the website. No unlimited profile views like grindr and no unlimited messages like bender. Still it’s a step in the right direction and they have a massive user base already to tap into as well as a marketing budget to match the paid subscriber base.

Social vs Professional

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t want everyone I know to know everyone else that I know.
It’s like when you split up from someone and you suddenly lose a group of friends because they were better friends with your now ex partner.
Imagine this in the online world. It would be a nightmare. You have a spat with someone in the office and all of a sudden everyone in your social network is also affected or vice versa.

I use LinkedIn for my professional network and it works well. I use Facebook, Friendster, Thingbox and AIMPages and any number of others for social networking. Essentially whenever I get an invite I join one and when I see one I want to test or evaluate I join it and invite my friends. What I tend not to do is invite the same group of people to all of them.

There are some people with whom I get on with really well on my social networks that I would never put in my professional network the results would be far too unpredictable. Likewise there are people on my professional network I would never invite onto Facebook.

Anyway back to the point. LinkedIn is considering opening their platform to developers if you believe techcrunch and others, or likely will create an app for facebook. I’m struggling to see the market. I know in an ideal world everything would be interoperable but in the real world I think it would cause more problems than it would solve.

Now of course some software manufacturers have entered the fray. Notably IBM’s Lotus Connections which has a delicious style social bookmarking element, a blogging element – despite most companies looking at ways of reigning in the blogosphere rather than promoting it- and profiles.

San Francisco

I arrived at SFO and met up with Mr P at the gate. We were both a bit concerned how easy it was to wander around into the allegedly secure gate side of the internal flight area.
He had to wait as I was a bit late – makes a change though! Then we managed to find out how to get downtown and arrived at the wrong hostel. Luckily the one we were booked into was only 6 blocks away. Unluckily it meant a walk down Ellis Street in Tenderloin. I think I saw more homeless people in ten minutes than I have in London in ten years. Seriously there is a big homeless population in San Fran.
It was cold and foggy when we arrived and stayed like that for the rest of the day. Not that either of us saw much of it. We ensconced ourselves in our room and stayed there until the next morning.
Thursday morning was again cold and foggy. We managed to venture out though and wandered along Ellis until we hit the shops in and around Union Square. We had brunch first at Cheesecake Factory. American portions are such a bad move on the first day you eat properly. I mean even the side salads were huge.
We wandered around the shops, The Levi Flagship store with it’s wierd top floor. Oh and of course we took in the Abercrombie & Fitch store on Market St [which had no stock at all].
I also succumbed and saw Spiderman. We were wandering around the Metreon as it was too foggy to go to the Golden Gate Bridge, and it has a cinema in the complex so we saw the matinee.
Friday was Dave’s 28th birthday and so we celebrated in the evening with champagne and a fantastic meal at the stylish Ozumo. Dave is convinced he needs to write down the recipe with mint and lemon or something. He kept muttering for the rest of the holiday about it 🙂
In the morning though we had gone over to Stonestown Galleria on an Abercrombie mission – the one in Market St was pants. The one in Stonestown was not much better. In between seasons and nothing in either Dave’s size or mine.
The meal we had was nice though at the Olive Garden.
Saturday we decided we really should do some sightseeing even if the weather was no better. Luckily for us though it was much better. The views of the bridge and the bay are awesome. [Pictures to follow] It was not super hot but enough for both Dave and I to burn [although we think it may have been a combination of sun and wind]. The afternoon was spent on a pleasant walking tour along from Ghiradelli Square through Fisherman’s Wharf to the Embarcadero. We also took in Lombard Street you know as we were doing the tourist bit.
That evening we had sushi at the Metreon and then watched Minority Report.
Sunday of course was SF Pride which was really nice. There were big gaps though which was a bit wierd – not quite so well planned as Sydney!
It also appeared as if any Tom, Dick and Harry could have a float. Politicians galore and local store advertisments too all very erm… boring really. The only decent float sadly was the Smirnoff promotion. [Pics to follow]
The party was brilliant. London should just do the same. Instead of shipping everyone off to some park miles away. Block off a few roads in soho and have a party there!
After all of that excitement we decided to go back to the sightseeing on Monday. Alcatraz! Unfortunately the next available trips were Wednesday 🙁 So we went for the rip off the tourists Angel Island and Alcatraz departing Tuesday instead. Now I know it is a rip off as we went to Alcatraz like just the Alcatraz tour but we had to go to Angel Island first and pay more – so how does that work?
Anyways that kind of threw our plans for the day out so we went on a cable car back to Union Square and Market Street after wandering around the wharf area.
That evening we went back to the Castro for dinner and drinks abd I have to say I was a little disappointed in the range of bars. The only one we liked was Badlands 🙂 [just like DC eh!]
We didn’t stay out too late though as we had to be up early for the Alcatraz tour in the morning.
As it hapens Angel Island was really nice so it worked out okay. The weather had turned though and it was back to cold and foggy. Luckily we had seen the bridge on Saturday already as it was not visible. Alcatraz was very scary but not as fearful as we anticipated. It’s famous for it’s inmates more than being a nasty prison really. After the trip we wandered back via Macondry Lane [where they filmed Tales of the City. Also we took in Alamo Square and St Mary’s Cathedral and then back to our room for the last night in SF.
There’s plenty more I’ve missed like that damn game, the Bingham Cup [the Kings Cross Steelers were playing and all the teams where in the parade [pics], but when Mr P gets back from his next two weeks of holiday in Portland and Vancouver though he can fill you in. I’ll need to edit the photo’s and then upload them too.
All in all though I had a really nice time, fabulous company great city.
So now I am off to bed again – melatonin here I come 🙂