Monday, February 13. 2012
The Path brouhaha rumbles on, the NYT weighed in with:
Now of course all the Lilies of the Valley (except they spin, and they sew....) rushed to their keyboards to call the NYT names, but this says more about them and who pays their wages (I loved the Arrington showing the belly one). To anyone outside of the (soon to be) vested interests, that Social Media companies make money from your data is blindingly obvious, and thus it should surprise no-one that they are less than careful about user data - after all, users are the not the customer, they are the free lunch. As the NYT concludes, there is a well established path in doing things this way:
At Mr. Morin’s last job at Facebook, his boss Mark Zuckerberg apologized publicly more than 10 times for privacy breaches. It seems the management philosophy of “ask for forgiveness, not permission” is becoming the “industry best practice.” And based on the response to Mr. Morin, tech executives are even lauded for it.
But timing is everything, and this is not what is wanted a few weeks from everyon'e payday, when Facebook IPOs and the blue toucghpaper of the Social Media bubble is lit.
But there was another article in the NYT though which was very interesting, about users being paid for their data.
This is something that has interested me for years - about 15 years ago we participated in a Futurist conference and one of the big things that came out of it was that there would be a premium on the Net Present Value of the User's future income, and a race for their personal data would begin - what was also clear is that initially the service providers would try and pay as liitle as possible (the model at the time was supermarket loyalty cards) but the belief was that online, people would use tools to bargain their data at higher value - so far, not so good though, as social networking and gamification of applications makes users throw it away.
I have always hoped that VRM style tools may emerge for this, but not yet. Still, lets see what happens in the next 12 months - the technology is available, and they say all things carry the seeds of their own destruction.
Thursday, December 1. 2011
Remember Whuffie? It was gong to allow you to tell the cowboys from the genuine service providersand extract favours for being a good customer. Downside is when the service providers turn it back on the customers - CNet
Dentist Stacy Makhnevich requires patients to sign a form handing her copyright to any online reviews. Should the reviews not glow in the dark, she allegedly has them removed for breach of copyright. This seems entrepreneurially nifty, if legally shifty..
Social Biz fundis say your brand is what your customers think of you - seems like also you may be what Brands think of you...
Your purchases as eBay Ratings are the New CRM. In spades. We told ya.
Wednesday, August 24. 2011
Facebook has made significant changes toits privacy setings to compte with Google Plus - SAI notes you can now:
Facebook product manager Kate O'Neill says Facebook started planning these changes long before Google+ rolled out. Course you did, Kate - its so in the company's DNA
What is most interesting is that competition is forcing privacy levels up, which is a hopeful sign for the future of social networking.
Saturday, July 16. 2011
I assume everyone has been watching the unravelling of News International with some fascination, and all the little birds we know (and Rebekah Brooks) are telling us there is still more stuff to come....
However, the real long term question is this: how did power corrupt the organisation? On what planet do youh ave to live to have a world view that thinks hacking the phones of dead children is OK.
Befehl ist befehl, as they said at Nuremburg*
But that is not it - the real reason is "because they could", it was inevitable that in the pressure for results,to perform,to climb the greasy pole,that one person would go for this option - and so long as they don't get caught, the corporate game theory says they keep on winning (and even if they do get caught, the payoff for hacking may still be better than the punishment - we shall see)
I was reflecting on this with news today that Facebook is"becoming a News Organisation", and in a hard competition with Google+ (Forbes):
Facebook has a war on its hands, and Mark Zuckerberg knows it. Practically overnight, Google+ has gone from a rumor to a thriving community with over 10 million members. With some 700 million members of its own, Facebook is thinking less and less about how to grow that number and more about how to get current users to live more of their lives within its virtual walls. One answer it has come up with: asking a select number of news outlets to produce “Facebook editions” — basically, app versions of themselves that can be read and consumed right there on Facebook.
Add to that the article that there is a war on social network counting going on....Search Engine Land
My take on Facebook's corporate culture is that they are not exactly angels, and Google long ago stopped "doing no evil". Twitter is still an unknown quanity.
But the user data they have access to makes the stuff that News International could get from mobile phone hacking look like a cupcake party confessions session.
And as the competitive pressures intensify, there will probably be the same corporate game theory emerging..... so even if everyone there today are saints,the corporate sleazeball would still triumph - one hopes that these companes put practices in to prevent it, or even better (and probably necessarily) US and UK regulators look at the NI event as a wake up call to put measures in place to prevent social network user data hacking.
Or else we will be saying "we told you so" in a few years time....
*Give us a break - Broadstuff is 4 years in and we only now invoke Godwin's Law .
Sunday, May 8. 2011
Today, a Twitter account started to publish details of all the doings of the UK slebs that until now have been hit with Super-Injunctions (an injunction says you cannot talk about Affaire X in the press, a super injunction is that you are not even able to say that person Y took out an injunction to prevent you talking about Affaire X.
(One assumes that a super-injunction does not stretch to this post talking about Twitter talking about super-injunctions. That would surely require a Meta-Injunction....)
Anyway, there is also a right ding-dong going on ( on Twitter of course ) about said Super-Injunctions, and the Pros and Cons of Super Injunctions, on #injunctionssuper and #superinjunctions. Not only that but some people are even making up spurious super-injunctions for fun (shock horror!). Some are funny, some are scandalours, some are sacrilegous, and some are even probably true by the laws of chance.....
The most sadly revealing defensore comments were (i) journo Caitlin Moran's twt:
I'm not really pro self-annointed one-man armies spreading legally unverifiable personal rumours on the internet #superinjunction
and (ii) David Allen Greene's twt:
The mere word #SuperInjunction means otherwise sensible people (want to) believe incredible things. It is like a witch-craze.
To both of these - and the Super-Injunctioneers - I'd say "but what did you expect" ? You can't build an entire media system that hooks people on the gossip around daily doings of every z-list sleb and then complain that, in a gossip vacuum on said slebs, people become extremely curious about the doings of same said slebs.... human nature abhors a vacuum!
In fact I suspect the rumour mill of false super injunctions spawned by said injunctions will bring about its demise faster than anything else....
Not ony that, but I submit the Super-injunction is increasingly useless today, as the information is on "teh internetz" anyway, it just takes a little bit more effort than Googling "Affaire X" from the UK sources (Privacy invasion on the Internet has gone far, far farther than this - I get to all that below).
And this is not even New News. I recall many years ago - 1987 - when an ex-spycatcher published a book called "Spycatcher" (oddly enough) about how he used to catch spies for MI 5. The British Government immediately tried to ban this book being sold or talked about in the UK. This meant it became the "must have" book and for anyone travelling to a country where it was on sale (injunctions not having impact outside the UK), giving it a fame that it actually never deserved (most of the stuff was known or guessable, and it was a fairly dry read) but great governmental contortions were made, including the UK Cabinet Secretary lyin...sorry, being "Economical With The Truth" in an Australian court
Roll forward to 2009 and Trafigura (see our post on this here) tried to muzzle the British press via a super injunction, but of course the stuff was all over the internet from content hosters outside the UK, and consequently all over Twitter. Roll forward to today and everyone with an internet account (c 80% of all Britons) and a bit of curiosity and nous (probably quite a bit fewer, but growing) can enjoy salacious rumours about UK slebs from foreign web hosters, in comfort at home. And then someone puts it all on Twitter.....
Lets look at where we are today with privacy (or the lack thereof)....
To me, Messrs Moran, Greene and the super-injuncting judges are a bit like King Cnut trying to command the sea not to come farther up the beach (or at least wringing their hands about it...). In fact its far worse, as the tide has already swept past their chairs, the wave-edge of the stuff being surfed now is your daily behaviour, in minute detail, on Twitter, Facebook, Google et al. Never mind talking about the Affaire you had, this sort of data can pick out the one you are having - and even predict the one you will have.. (You think I jest.....let me suggest an experiment - print out your twts for the last 3 months or so and look at what someone could tell about you....)
In the Olde Days, Slebs could use The Meedja Megaphone when they desired it, and when it went wrong slap an injunction on it (publicise their good deeds, privatise their bad ones as it were). Of course even that falls over eventually if you carry on too long, but the digital media today is far, far more of a Faustian bargain, as not only do you use it, but it uses you straight back. You may not sell your soul to it, but you can be certain others are selling every little window to your soul - every action is recorded and stored and can be juxtaposed, compared, aggregated, dis-aggregated, sifted etc at leisure.
Which will leave Super Injunctions looking a bit washed out very soon methinks...............
(Update - 24 hours later, the news hits Techmeme)
22nd May Postdate:
Three weels later, and the water is rushing over the feet of the King Cnutian stance of the Politico-Judicial complex as they fall out:
Now far be it for us to suspect some self interest here, ie that that many politicians want to keep superinjunction options for their own peccadiloes, and the legal system likes the pecuniary rewards of Rich Man's Law, but two "We're rights" clearly make a wrong here, which is clear to everyone outside the unedifying squabble. No only that but it's all over Twitter, and Google helpfully suggest who it's all about. Just type in "XXX XXXX affair" (apply your favourite superinjunctee here) and Google will helpfully tell you what is going on.
And of course, outside the sclerotic laws of the UK this is a non issue, King Cnut long ago toddled back up the beach in the US - no super-injunctions there, just a 250 year old Bill of Rights* !. And as the recent episodes around Dominique Strauss Kahn show, the French "super injunctioneering" system was holding back something far worse than just bonk and tell.
The center cannot hold..... one cannot court the digital media for favours and then complain when it also displays failures.
(*Except, I am reminded by a few wags, for the Kennedys's, who were US Royalty)
Saturday, May 7. 2011
The counter-reaction to the widespread privacy abuse necessary in the "Social Freeconomic" business model (Datamining for Money) was widely predicted (by us among others) but is now in full swing, with legislation moving both in the California and the US Federal system.
California (from Ars Tech):
The legislation in question comes from the office of state senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach). Lowenthal's bill would require the state's Attorney General to deploy regulations by July 1, 2012 forcing any business that uses, collects, or stores online data to offer California consumers "a method to opt out of that collection, use, and storage of such information."
According to its summary, the bill would specify:
that such information, includes, but is not limited to, the online activity of an individual and other personal information. The bill would subject these regulations to certain requirements, including, but not limited to, a requirement that a covered entity disclose to a consumer certain information relating to its collection, use, and storage information practices. The bill would, to the extent consistent with federal law, prohibit a covered entity from selling, sharing, or transferring a consumer's covered information. The bill would make a covered entity that willfully fails to comply with the adopted regulations liable to a consumer in a civil action for damages, as specified, and would require such an action to be brought within a certain time period.
What would this "covered information" include? The "date and hour of online access," the location from which the information was accessed, the "means" (presumably the broadband device and its operating system) by which the data was obtained and stored, the user's IP address, "personal information" that would include but not be limited to postal and e-mail addresses, and government identification numbers such as drivers' licenses, passport numbers, and tax IDs. Credit card numbers and security codes are also part of the definition. The legislation in question comes from the office of state senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach). Lowenthal's bill would require the state's Attorney General to deploy regulations by July 1, 2012 forcing any business that uses, collects, or stores online data to offer California consumers "a method to opt out of that collection, use, and storage of such information."
Federal (from Washington Post)
Update - a second piece of legislation has been tabled - NYT:
The announcement was followed by the release of a discussion draft of bipartisan legislation from Representatives Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Joe Barton of Texas that would amend the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 by adding protections for children and teenagers who use mobile devices. “We have reached a troubling point in the state of business when companies that conduct business online are so eager to make a buck, they resort to targeting our children,” Mr. Barton said in a statement issued on Friday. “I strongly believe that information should not be collected on children and used for commercial purposes.”
What is interesting is to track the Do Not Track opposition - a Who's Who of dataminers - Facebook, Google et al. Ars Tech again:
Google and Facebook are warning legislators of dire consequences if California passes a "do not track" bill. The proposed law would require companies doing online business in the Golden State to offer an "opt-out" privacy mechanism for consumers.
Well they would, wouldn't they - and lobbying spend is being upped accordingly:
Sadly, no one is spending a fraction of that on representing the interests of "we the people" who are being increasingly scraped and datamined. Frankly though, I am surprised that "Bricks and Mortar" retailers don't band together and help fund the opposition, as the ability to track and datamine gives massive advantages to these sorts of businesses over other forms of retailing.
Thursday, April 21. 2011
Good Lord - a few days ago we published a note about how Smartphones are watching you (and listening etc) , but we had no idea it was this bad - the iPhone tracks your movement and timestamps it, whether you have GPS turned on or off, and saves it to a non encrypted file that it then uploads when you synch (again without you knowing). What worries me is not so much the tracking itself, but that Apple didn't feel it was necessary to tell its users that this was happening, nor to use a secure method of storing the data - i.e what was going on in their heads?. This feature is alluded to in the 15,000 word "terms and conditions" but fairly obliquely - "May track", "aggregated data" etc - not "there is a file on your phone tracking your exact moves and timestamping them, that gets uploaded automatically to any computer you synch to and moves from your old phone to your new phone". That is not a "may" or an "aggregated" or an off switch in any of that! I agree with Andy Ihnatko when he says your Smartphone is:
Your personal Jesus Device is turning into more of a personal Judas device, betraying you behind your back - what I want to know is what Apple was going to do with the data to get its 30 pieces of silver.
I understand it only works on iOS 4, not 3.x, and works on the iPad too. A few other factoids from Andy:
- This database isn’t storing GPS data. It’s just making a rough location fix based on nearby cell towers. The database can’t reveal where you were…only that you were in a certain vicinity. Sometimes it’s miles and miles off. This implies that the logfile’s purpose is to track the performance of the phone and the network, and not the movements of the user.
In other words it is using the same technology all phones use for snooping, but it is storing it insecurely (And a Third Party attack is the most common security flaw) On the BBC news today we heard that there will probably be a rush to subpoena iPhones in all sorts of divorce and crime cases. You have been warned.....
Tuesday, April 19. 2011
Lots of people reporting on rumours that Twitter is looking to acquire Tweetdeck for $50m. Tweetdeck has between 13% and 20% of the market share (depending on who you read, when) but those that it does have are the heavier users. Now, much though I love the service and those nice Tweetdeck people, the $50m question is why acquire - and at such an inflated price - a company that Twitter could just strangle or do a commercial deal with anyway? There are a number of possibilities:
(i) Acquiring Tweetdeck acquires these users onto an "owned" platform (though it's not clear why they would want to own them, as the revenue model for Twitter is not yet clear, there are only so many Ads you can throw at Uber-users before they migrate)
(ii) Defensive - Twitter don't want another major player owning Tweetdeck. It wasn't that long ago that there were rumours that UberMedia would buy them for $30m - soon after that Twitter threatened to turn UberMedia access off, thus they clearly are sensitive to this.
(iii) There is no deal - its rumour mongering by the Tweetdeck people to try and create an auction (and up the price)
(iv) Acccess to the Tweetdeck technology - unlikely - Tweetdeck is good, but it would take a fraction of $50m to reverse-engineer it.
(v) Update - acquire talent and a London base - yeeees, but that's a LOT of goodwill - $50m could buy a lot of that with a lot of spare change.
Speculation alert - at the moment option 2 is the best explanation for a deal - but at this stage in the game I would also think good old auction posturing is a good bet ( as does Caroline McCarthy at CNet) especially as no deal happened with UberMedia when one was reported.
I'd run a 50:50 on option 3 at this point. One to watch.
Monday, April 18. 2011
There have been apps that use the microphone of course, eg those "what song is that" ones like Shazam. The difference is these ones don't tell you what they are doing:
The new apps are often sneakier about it. The vast majority of people who use the Color app, for example, have no idea that their microphones are being activated to gather sounds. Welcome to the future.
Even more fun, some apps like to rifle through your digital drawers, find data and then Phone Home:
Of course, lots of apps transmit all kinds of private data back to the app maker. Some send back each phone's Unique Device Identification (UDI), the number assigned to each mobile phone, which can be used to positively identify it. Other apps tell the servers the phone's location. Many apps actually snoop around on your phone, gathering up personal information, such as gender, age and ZIP code, and zapping it back to the company over your phone's data connection.
All this data and more, plus the UDI on your phone, could enable advertising companies to send you very narrowly targeted advertising for products and services that you're likely to want. It could also enable snooping on an unparalelled scale, never mind if the data was stolen or exposed accidentally (that could never happen, I'm sure.....). Not so much "Welcome to the Future" as a return to a "Brave New World".
We've been banging on about the intrusion of the Web 2.0 FreeConomic model till we're blue in the face, but the transgressions seem to get more and more intrusive year by year, I have come to the conclusion that it will only be regulation that will put a stop to it - or else, endgame is that privacy will be something that only the priviledged will ever have.
Monday, March 14. 2011
Well, there has been quite a to-do this past weekend about Twitter's thoughts on other clients on their infrastructure - here is the Techmeme leaderboard article on Monday morning from The NextWeb with maybe a bit of clarity:
Twitter’s Lead of Application Services Raffi Krikorian explain things in a little more detail. For one, Sarver defines a Twitter client as:
Defineing Seesmic as "marketer" focussed and say Tweetdeck as "Consume" focussed seems a tad hair splitting to me, so is this really about signalling Chosen Partners?
But anyway, I do subscribe to the view that this is far to early to clamp down on innovation, this whole area is hardly over yet. Take for example, the matter of SXSW filtering. For those who don't know the impact, when SXSW happens everyone you know who is there tends to overtweet (quantity goes up) about the most vapid sh*t (quality goes down) and even worse, about a great time they are having while I am working!
Fortunately, on Tweetdeck, you can filter this all out, so I have experienced a blissfully SXSW free tweetstream. You can't do that on the bog-standard Twitter client. QED, as they say.
But of course 3rd party filtering not only increases my listening pleasure, it can potentially stop monetisation methods (aka Ads) so no doubt that is a part of the rationale for Twitter's action. Our recommendation has long been to charge those people who use the APIs heavily as clients - would put the funding problem back on the shoulders of those standing on Twitter's shoulders....
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