How Much Freedom Does the Internet Bring You?

On the surface Internet living seems to bring a great deal of freedom to many different parties. Last month for example I posted from the USA, Italy and the UK, we can work from home, buy direct and have access to all kinds of information.

This might make us feel that the web itself creates freedom, or that it is free to operate as we wish. I am not so sure that this is the whole story however, and others agree.

How much freedom of speech really exists?

How much freedom of speech really exists?

Last week Security technologist Bruce Schneier gave a talk as part of the TEDx Cambridge series. Schneider is very interested in security and perceptions of security as this previous TED video shows, but last week’s talk was different.

He took the problem of Internet freedom as his topic, and raised some very interesting arguments. The following quotes are taken from his speech as reported on our local Boston.com website:

“Which type of power dominates the coming decades? Right now it looks like traditional power. It’s much easier for the NSA to spy on everyone than it is for anyone to maintain privacy. China has an easier time blocking content than its citizens have getting around those blocks.”

We can see that there is some evidence to support this case, if we look at this article that appeared in the Huffington Post a couple of years ago. It recounts the tale of Google pulling out of China because they no longer wanted to censor their searches. Google chose to redirect users to their non censored search engine based in Hong Kong. The Chinese government managed to block the results anyway, so users were left in the same position as before, no access to the information.

If we take a broader look though we find that it is not just China but other countries that are making repeated requests for Google to censor their content. CNN report the revelations of the recent Google Transparency report, where Canada, France, the UK and the USA feature strongly in the league of requested censorship. The report is here, easy to follow and a 5 minute thumb through might change your ideas regarding freedom and regulation on the web.

Just yesterday Linkedin announced that they challenging the US government over data requests. US organizations are allowed to publish the total number of data requests, but cannot break the figure down to reveal the number made by security services. Linkedin say this legal situation makes no sense, and many other companies agree. Read about it here.

“Cyber criminals can rob more people more quickly than real-world criminals, digital pirates can make more copies of more movies more quickly than their analog ancestors. And we’ll see it in the future. 3D printers mean control debates are soon going to involve guns and not movies.”

Just this week The Independent ran a story about Europe’s criminal intelligence agency that is fighting unprecedented levels of crime across several fronts as gangs capitalise on new technology. We are not talking about a few individuals hacking into the odd bank account here and there, we are looking at the new form of organized crime. A multi billion dollar industry in Europe alone.

The gun reference is of course to the distribution of plans for a 3D printer manufactured gun. Read about it here.

Caution in cases of political dissent

Caution in cases of political dissent

Much has been written about how Facebook and other interfaces have the power to democratize society, and their potential to promote revolution. The so-called Arab Spring is often given as an example, but as well as dissidents using Facebook to organize protests, the Syrian and other governments also used Facebook to identify and arrest dissidents.

There are plenty of examples. Here is an article about 3 Moroccan activists who were arrested for their comments criticizing governments at that time. One used a Wikileaks type platform, another Facebook and the third Youtube. They were all arrested and charged with various and sometimes unrelated crimes.

I wonder where they are now?

Bodybook – Because Facebook owns your face

Facebook owns the word Face. No, it really does. In the United States, Facebook owns the trademarks to the words ‘Face’, ‘Book’, ‘Wall’ and ‘Facepile’ as well as the aberration ‘FB’. It also has the rights to be the only company to use a single letter ‘F’ as their logo. Check out section 5.6 of their terms and conditions for the proof.

Cheers Facebook, there goes my plan of publishing my book ‘A book about my face on the wall’ in the US. Guess I will have to rename it ‘Pages of text about the front of my head on the structural divider.’ Only joking, I don’t plan on re-publishing it in the US.

Facebook Owns Your Content

As Jonny mentioned a while back, Instagram has the right to sell your pictures, and no doubt Facebook will soon too. Any picture you post on Facebook the social network already owns anyway. Check out section 2.1 of the terms I link to above:

“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos, you specifically give us the following permission… …you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook…”

So Facebook owns your pictures, your videos and your statuses. Don’t worry, if you delete them, usually most of the rights will transfer back to you, however so long as they remain live on Facebook, it can use them how it wants, as well as share them with its ‘partners’. This means that you could very easily become a victim of mistaken identity.

Terms of Service; Didn’t Read note how “Facebook automatically shares your information with Bing, Pandora, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, Clicker, Scribd, and Docs, unless you manually opt-out.” how lovely of them to share your stuff for you!

Terms of Service; Didn't Read logoRemember my 7th ever post on Technology Bloggers? Of course you do! 😉 I questioned whether or not Facebook was exploiting users by using status information to provide tailored advertising – without asking.

Facebook Own Your Face

Facebook has taken targeted advertising a step further since then. It has been using the names and pictures of around 150 million people in ‘Sponsored Stories’ without their permission and as a result sent out an email checking that this was okay. Those who responded to Facebook’s message will receive a $15 USD payment as compensation. Is that really all it costs to buy your identity? Did you get an email? Did you ignore it?

Facebooks email to users about updating its privacy policy

The email Facebook sent to me letting me know it was updating its privacy policy.

Anyhow, Facebook don’t like having to pay for your permission, so they have recently changed their terms and conditions. If you have a Facebook account, you will have been sent an email on the 30th of August about this change. If you deleted it, you can find an image of my email to the right.

The new terms state that Facebook can now use your face to claim you endorse its advertisers products. You know that face you are wearing, you no longer own the exclusive rights to it. Facebook legally part-owns your face.

Will everyone remove pictures of their faces and just have shots of their body? Or maybe people will use pictures of their pets. Then again, who wants Facebook to own their pets face…

Bodybook

I doubt many people will pay any attention to Facebook’s latest changes.

Will this spark the rise of a new Facebook, a Bodybook? Probably not, as most people seem to trust Facebook with their privacy… oh, and Facebook also owns the word book, so it would need to be Bodyjournal, which sounds like a totally different thing.

Christopher Roberts with no head

Which do you think should be my new profile picture, the one on the left or the one on the right?

Oh and don’t forget, there is a strong correlation with Facebook addiction and depression

Facebook Addiction?

Do you ever feel that Facebook has got the better of you? That it has some kind of force that draws you in every time you go near your computer? Well if so you should know that you are not alone.

Two researchers here at MIT have conducted some experiments to see if they could halt their addiction in its tracks. The researchers put some code into their machines that monitors the sites they visit through their browser. When they visit Facebook too often an electric shock is sent through a peripheral device to their keyboard, and they get a jolt.

Now if you have ever spent any time with cows you will know that they respect electric fences because they hurt, and the researchers think that this system might deter them from too much use. They call it Pavlov’s Poke.

And surely enough after a few shocks the boys used Facebook a little less.

Thumbs down.

Thumbs down to Facebook overuse.

There is also the story of a young man who hired a woman through our local newspaper to help him avoid Internet distraction. She sat next to him in his office and slapped him in the face when he lost the thread of his searches. Probably a little cumbersome as a solution though, not to mention pricey. Read the story here.

So the boys came up with an automated version that posts a job request through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service when the quota is reached. The job requires a person to call and abuse you reading from a script, simple and a much better use of human resources I would think.

And we might really be talking about addiction here. A study cited in Forbes by the University of Chicago claims that Facebook is more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol, with the average user spending 400 minutes a month on the site.

Another report from the University of Utah shows that people who use Facebook a lot are led to believe that other people’s lives are better than theirs.

This is an easy conclusion to come to when you look at photos of your friends (and people you don’t really know or never really speak to face to face) while they are on holiday, having fun in clubs, meeting new people and going to music festivals, while you are sitting at home in front of your computer feeling miserable. Photos of arguing with your partner or the kids waking up at 4 in the morning are rarer.

Researchers at the University of Michigan came to the same conclusion. Read their report in full here. This is a brand new piece of research.

The truth is that these social media sites are designed to be both addictive and necessary. They make you feel better in some ways, people of course like you, but they distort views of real life and can lead to distraction and unhappiness.

They make money by selling, so they need as many online presences as they can get and for as long and often as possible. They are (as they openly admit) marketplaces, designed to sell access to their users for publicity purposes. They are not apolitical and have goals, and their success makes or breaks their share price.

On a personal note I recently applied for a job in the USA as a freelance journalist. Although I have lots of experience, good qualifications and a measurable reader base, I got no further than the application form. The employers wanted details of my social network, Facebook, Google plus etc, not my writing.

I had nothing to offer them.

Getting Started With Social Media

When trying to promote your business on social media websites, there are a few basic tips that should always be followed. Using these tips will allow for a smooth entry into the world of social media, and make your efforts more successful. In this article, we will discuss those basics and help you to develop a “getting started” plan for your social media efforts. Read on to learn more.

Social MediaWhatever your choice is for social media marketing, make sure that you use correct grammar. Meanwhile it is tempting to use abbreviations such as LOL or LMAO, remember that you are trying to come across as a professional who knows a lot about his or her company. Do your best to spell everything correctly and use punctuation where it is needed.

Network With Others

Try to collaborate with other people and companies when using social media. When they link to your content or share your content, you are being exposed to a brand new group of fans and followers. Return the favor and link to their content as well. The more people who link to your content and social media posts, the better off you are.

To make sure your social media page appeals to your target audience, research books, magazines, and other things you believe they’d enjoy. Try to match the tone of the content you see in your research, and incorporate popular phrases. Doing this will help your target market to trust you and will make them interested in what you have to say.

Understand that technology is driving social media and vice versa. Every day that social media becomes more popular, technology races to catch up, which prompts social media to become more popular. Know what the technology is offering your customers in their social needs so that you can take part in talking WITH them, as opposed to talking AT them.

Never spam when posting on social media. Posting spam is the quickest way to lose followers and damage you and you companies reputation. Spam posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites make any legitimate marketing difficult. If your posts are just a few words and a link to a product, you are posting spam. Give relevant content or reviews along with any links you post. The holidays may be a big time of the year, but don’t use the opportunity in the wrong way. It isn’t the best phase to test out new theories or gamble with a big risk. Stick to your proven guns and utilize them in a more customer-friendly manner. You will have all year to plan out a strategy for the next holiday season.

Use Local Media Sites

To successfully market your business on social media, you should take advantage of Yelp. Yelp is an online community where real people review local businesses. Yelp carefully filters its reviews to protect against scammers, and the Yelp community of reviewers is very close-knit. Positive reviews on yelp can bring your business legitimacy and help attract new customers. Make sure to monitor yelp for people’s ideas and suggestions about how to improve your business and help yourself achieve the best rating possible on the website. You also may want to look for outside help utilizing best SEO companies recommendations.

Find The Influencers

Find some influential bloggers that are out there in your niche and offer to be a guest poster on their blog. This would then allow you to have a link back to your blog. It may also attract people to follow you on the various social media sites that you are on.

You can get your followers’ attention by posting something in a format that makes reading easier. For instance, try coming with a list of top 10 tips or writing questions and answers. The visual aspect of your article will make it more appealing and your readers will be more likely to share it.

Develop quality content targeted for social media. If you are just haphazardly flinging words, advertising or any number of mundane snippets at your customers, then you are wasting your time and losing their business. Be as concerned about your social content offerings as you are for the content on your business site.

The world of social media offers tremendous advertising potential, with huge numbers of users being added every day. Every business wants to take advantage of this platform, including yours. Getting your business marketing efforts started the right way will increase your social media following, and increase profits too. In this article, we have provided some basic information which, when implemented correctly, can make your marketing plan a successful one.