Have you played with Facebook’s Open Graph search yet?
Facebook’s new search tool is now available to all American users. The rest of the world still has to request its preview here.
Your search bar is now much more prominent in the interface and you should expect it to start playing a much bigger role in how people use the site. The tool mixes a little bit of fun with a little bit of creepiness. And while it’s definitely more useful that Facebook’s old search, it could get you in some trouble.
The good news is that the search respects your privacy settings. The bad news is a lot of people don’t seem to be that careful with their privacy settings.
We tested out these searches and were shocked by how many many profiles actually came up:
How do you know if you’re protected from embarrassing searches?
We’ve made it easy to check. You can use our Safe Profile Beta app and get your privacy score and recommendations now.
Or you can check manually by clicking on the lock on the upper right corner of any Facebook page for “Privacy shortcuts”.
Click on “Who can see my stuff?” then “What do other people see on my timeline?”
You’ll see what’s available to the “Public” your “Friends” or a specific person could find as they search for you.
If you’re not happy with anything that may come up, here’s an excellent guide for locking your profile down.
Open Graph search makes the information on your “About” page as well as the privacy settings of your “Friends”, “Photos” and “Likes” more important than ever. So be sure to check out the first four sections of this guide.
And — to be extra safe — I’m going to remind you to run Safe Profile beta, again. And if you do, let us know what score you got in the comments.
[Image by Eugene Zemlyanskiy via Flickr.com]
This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) is coming up next week. The annual Barcelona-based tech expo features the latest news in mobile technologies. One of the biggest issues of the past year has enticed our own digital freedom fighter Mikko Hypponen to participate in the event. Hypponen, a well-known advocate of digital freedom, has been defending the Internet and its users from digital threats for almost 25 years. He’s appearing at this year’s MWC on Monday, March 2 for a conference session called “Ensuring User-Centred Privacy in a Connected World”. The panel will discuss and debate different ways to ensure privacy doesn’t become a thing of the past. While Hypponen sees today’s technologies as having immeasurable benefits for us all, he’s become an outspoken critic of what he sees as what’s “going wrong in the online world”. He’s spoken prominently about a range of these issues in the past year, and been interviewed on topics as diverse as new malware and cybersecurity threats, mass surveillance and digital privacy, and the potential abuses of emerging technologies (such as the Internet of Things). The session will feature Hypponen and five other panelists. But, since the event is open to public discussion on Twitter under the #MWC15PRIV hashtag, you can contribute to the conversation. Here’s three talking points to help you get started: Security in a mobile world A recent story broken by The Intercept describes how the American and British governments hacked Gemalto, the largest SIM card manufacturer in the world. In doing so, they obtained the encryption keys that secure mobile phone calls across the globe. You can read a recent blog post about it here if you’re interested in more information about how this event might shape the discussion. Keeping safe online It recently came to light that an adware program called “Superfish” contains a security flaw that allows hackers to impersonate shopping, banking, or other websites. These “man-in-the-middle” attacks can be quite serious and trick people into sharing personal data with criminals. The incident highlights the importance of making sure people can trust their devices. And the fact that Superfish comes pre-installed on notebooks from the world’s largest PC manufacturer makes it worth discussing sooner rather than later. Privacy and the Internet of Things Samsung recently warned people to be aware when discussing personal information in front of their Smart TVs. You can get the details from this blog post, but basically the Smart TVs voice activation technology can apparently listen to what people are saying and even share the information with third parties. As more devices become “smart”, will we have to become smarter about what we say and do around them? The session is scheduled to run from 16:00 – 17:30 (CET), so don’t miss this chance to join the fight for digital freedom at the MWC. [Image by Hubert Burda Media | Flickr]
This comes as no surprise after the Snowden revelations. British signal intelligence agency GCHQ has been spying illegally on a large number of internet users. What’s positively surprising is that the UK Surveillance Tribunal finally developed from a rubber stamp into something capable of making real decisions. In short, their recent decision states that the secret information exchange between the NSA and GCHQ was illegal. It’s also a welcome indication that unnecessary secrecy isn’t acceptable. Secrecy is needed in intelligence work, but has widely been misused to hide unlawful activities. We are, of course, grateful to Privacy International and its supporters, for their important work in this case. But they are not done yet! Their next step is to let you know if you’re a victim. You can submit your contact info and join a campaign where they will reveal if GCHQ has data on you. That’s nice. The more privacy-savvy of you are probably smiling right now. The campaign page clearly states “I authorise Privacy International and their legal team to pass my information to GCHQ …” That’s naturally necessary when asking GCHQ if they have data on you. But what if they didn’t? Now they have. Submitting private info to an agency that just has been exposed with illegal data processing might not sound as a good idea. And it’s not just your name, email and phone number. What may be less obvious is that your submission ties these pieces of info together. If they had just your mail, now they know to whom it belongs. Ok, time to take off the tin foil hat. I think Privacy International’s campaign is great and a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into the secret world of intelligence. One should not worry too much about revealing info through this form. What you submit is probably already known to them and they could easily find out, if they had a real interest in you. So just go ahead. But the above is a great reminder that you should think twice before submitting private info. Always think about whom you submit to and for what purpose. Micke P.S. This reminds me of an old web form at a Russian server. “Enter your credit card number to check if it has been stolen on the net.” No, I didn’t enter mine either.
Our history is full of doomsday prophecies. Statistics show that they are wrong to about 100%, and that seems to be accurate as we still are here. :) Vint Cerf is not that pessimistic when predicting a digital dark age. His doomsday only affects our data, but that’s scary too. So what is this all about and how does it affect us ordinary mortals? Mr. Cerf is reminding us about one of the fundamental challenges in electronic data processing. The technology is still very young and sometimes unreliable. A special problem is the longevity of storage media. A traditional photographic print can last several hundreds of years and the oldest preserved writings are thousands of years old, but electronic data media longevity is measured in tens of years. And on top of that comes the rapid technology development that can make media incompatible before it breaks. Digital storage may become a black hole, you put things there but get nothing out. This could lead to a dark era from which we have almost no digital memories, according to him. But how realistic is this horror scenario? Let’s fill in some points that Mr. Cerf left out. The digital technology actually enables infinite life for our data, if used right. The old photograph starts to slowly degrade from day one and no copy of it is perfect. Digital info can be copied to a new media an infinite number of times without degrading quality. Any digital media has a limited lifetime. But the rapid technology development will silently solve this problem for most people. The computer becomes too old and slow before the magnetism starts to fade on the hard disk, and everything is copied to a fresh new computer. (* The need to regularly copy data to fresh media will also solve the compatibility problems. You will normally never need to access media that is more than some 5 – 10 years old. And media that young is still compatible. The floppy disks that usually are shown to illustrate incompatible media are over 25 years old. (* But what about the file formats? It will be easy to implement support for our current file formats in tomorrow’s computer systems. That will be done if there is a need for it. So don’t worry if you are using the common standard file formats like JPG-images, MS Word or PDF-documents. They will no doubt be supported for a long time. But this may be an issue if you are using some exotic and less common format. We are entering the era of cloud storage. Our data is transferred to professionally managed data centers that take care of both backup and periodical media renewal on our behalf. Sure, they can fail too. But they are in generic a lot more reliable than our own homebrewed backup procedures. The use of cloud storage introduces a new threat. How long will the cloud company be around? A good thing to think about before selecting where to store the data. Another big threat against our data is our own attitude. Handling digital data is very easy, including deleting it. We need to understand the value of our data to make sure it is preserved. Last but not least. A very big threat against all data, analog or digital, is inability to find it. My piles of old slide photo boxes are of little use as they only have some labels with year and place. Looking for a particular shot is a nightmare. But my digital collection can easily be searched for place, time, equipment, technical data, keywords, etc. The pre-digital era was really the dark age seen from this perspective! So to wrap up. Yes, the digital revolution brings new challenges that we need to be aware of. But luckily also good tools to deal with them. Digital storage will no doubt lead to personal data loss for many persons. Disks crash every day and data is lost. So there is a true risk that digital storage leads to a personal dark age for you, unless you handle your data right. But there’s absolutely no need to talk about a digital dark age in a broader sense. Historians will easily get enough information about our society. It doesn’t matter if some of us have lost our files, there’s still plenty to work on. Actually, data overload will be a more likely problem for them. Good news. The sky is not falling after all! Safe surfing, Micke (* This is assuming that you keep your files on the computer. These problems will become real if you archive files on external media, store it away for later use and remember them some 20 years later.