Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The price is that they get to watch

105 Responses

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  • Sacha, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    the show Russell's doing tonight

    brought to you by faster-than-light neutrinos

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Here.

    As for your Facebook data, there is no reason to think they don’t collect a lot more than what you get in that download.

    I was being a bit sarky. I have read a lot about Facebook security over the past few weeks, and do realise Google keeps all my searches. Gulp.

    The frictionless sharing thing is a bit frightening. My FB friends (less than a 6th of Russell's) seem vaguely quiet lately. A lot were copying and pasting random posts about charging and security, and now have gone quiet. Jonathan has done something I've thought about doing many times. But then Radiohead links to a new song, or Dead Can Dance talk about a tour and I find myself hooked again.

    If they have, or develop, a more sinister intent than just making money (if that is sinister enough), we're all screwed. Otherwise, what to do?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2450 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Jonathan King,

    I've never belonged to FB or any other social net...my problem initially was lack of copyright protection but then I thought - copyright on *everything* posted? No way!
    I find email, and this community-blog site, keeps me in touch just fine (altho' I can, especially after the Chchch quakes, understand some of the virtues of social nets.)

    I dont think you'll regret terminating your FB connection Jonathan...as Lilith has reminded us, there's been alternatives in the past - and who knows what new possibility lies ahead (or behind, depending on how you orient yourself in time...)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Islander,

    I’ve never belonged to FB or any other social net…my problem initially was lack of copyright protection but then I thought – copyright on *everything* posted? No way!

    I would very much like to have a discussion about copyright with you. There are many aspects to explore, most of which I think we disagree on. May I email you?

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    About the only thing that bugs me about Facebook being blocked in China is that I can't delete my account without a VPN - and a VPN, apart from being unreliable, raises still more security and privacy issues. But not only has Facebook proved to be an almost completely useless waste of time, absolutely everything it does makes me think it is quite actively evil. So the next time I can get to Facebook VPN-free, I'm deleting my account. Until then I think I'll continue my perhaps rather naive gamble that my lack of activity will keep me safe.

    But I do wish people would notice how long it's been since I was active before adding/friending/following/whatevering me on Facebook and Twitter (I quite enjoyed Twitter, I just don't miss it enough to bother jumping the wall).

    Then again, considering I have a dormant Kaxin001 (Chinese Facebook clone) account and a semi-active Weibo (Chinese Twitter, but better) account, I guess I can't really get up in arms about privacy. But Facebook has creeped me out way beyond what any Chinese company or service has done.

    And I'm with Russel in that Google may be just as evil (and Google is evil), but at least it provides useful and (mostly) good quality services. And last I checked, it doesn't go broadcasting your searches or reads or watches to all and sundry.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    And I’m with Russel in that Google may be just as evil (and Google is evil), but at least it provides useful and (mostly) good quality services. And last I checked, it doesn’t go broadcasting your searches or reads or watches to all and sundry.

    I clicked Stephen's link, quite quickly found a search five years old and mildly embarrassing and thought about deleting the lot. And then I thought, actually, this data improves the quality of my searches ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Being outside FB, I get the tension between "what are my distant acquaintances doing" and "thankfully I avoided that drama". Though I have tended to find that the only people that invite me to be on Facebook are people that don't actually know me, possibly because people I actually know have other ways of reaching me about things that actually matter.
    I know that between Google searches, gmail, gdocs, and Google chat I know Google knows a lot about me, but I console myself with it is only one company rather than two with FB as well, and historical Google has been pretty good about requiring court orders to divulge personal information and similar. That said, I'm not recommending G+ to anyone while they are insisting on real names as display names, and now and then I also have the urge to take a giant collection of words and have the computer do random searches on my behalf to pollute my search results profile.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Edward Sargisson,

    You have to give explicit permission to a website to allow it to automatically post your Read articles to Facebook.
    Developer Documentation

    The articles worrying about people having their porn reading shown on Facebook are beat-ups. Don't give the porn site that permission.

    However, I'm not sure how many sites will take up the auto-Read functionality because it is a little creepy and users may not like the feeling in the back of their head that everything they read on a site is getting published to FB. Content publishers do really love Facebook shares as they're worth a lot to get people to come back to good content. They also improve your search ranking (according to SeoMoz).

    Vancouver, BC • Since Jan 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    just click the envelope DCBC-

    I am happy to discuss opposing views, obviously from a writer's viewpoint...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And then I thought, actually, this data improves the quality of my searches …

    Well, exactly. I can not for the life of my see how Facebook's data collection helps anybody other than Facebook and its clients. With Google we at least get something more than just ads. And as Islander and David Hood pointed out, we all have non-Facebook ways of keeping in touch.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Russell Brown,

    this data improves the quality of my searches

    How do you know? Perhaps it's giving you an ever-narrower subset of results, tailored for optimal ad response.

    I think it would be interesting to try the same search from a range of cookie-free browsers with different IP numbers.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    How do you know? Perhaps it’s giving you an ever-narrower subset of results, tailored for optimal ad response.

    Considering Google regularly serves me up ads in Hebrew or languages written in Arabic-based scripts - languages and scripts that I have never studied and do not read or write in - I doubt their algorithms are quite that sophisticated. Yet.

    ETA: Even so, a narrower subset or results is actually helpful considering just how much information is out there, and the information google collects is at least supposed to be used to improve our experiences of the service (no matter how imperfect its algorithms may be) instead of merely serving us up to advertisers. And we're not talking Baidu, which has been caught out taking money to improve companies' and organisations positions in Baidu searches (be that by pushing them to the top of the search or simply removing them or bad news about them). Google at least maintains a clear distinction between search results, which are supposed to improve as it gets more information, and ads, which are supposed to become more relevant. Geez, I can't believe I'm defending Google...

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Edward Sargisson,

    You have to give explicit permission to a website to allow it to automatically post your Read articles to Facebook.
    Developer Documentation

    The articles worrying about people having their porn reading shown on Facebook are beat-ups. Don’t give the porn site that permission.

    People give permission to all sorts of shite on Facebook, though. And the permission isn't always going to be as explicit at the Guardan and the Washington Post make it:

    Frictionless sharing is different from Beacon, since you must explicitly authorize a site or app to share your information with Facebook. How this sharing mechanism works depends on the app. Authorizing The Washington Post or The Guardian Facebook apps allows you to read those news sites right within Facebook. The downside, however, is that everything you read is shared back to your friends.

    Yahoo News works a little differently. The site has a function called "Social" that can be turned on or off. When it is turned on, frictionless sharing is in full effect, and everything you read is shared via the Facebook Ticker. Turn social off, and you're back to private mode, when only clicking on the Like button will send articles back to Facebook.

    It's really not hard to see sites that want the eyeballs fudging that permission thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Yahoo News works a little differently

    It’s guaranteed not to invade anyone’s privacy, because there’s nothing on any Yahoo site worth accessing. Unless you’re a connoisseur of popup ads for scareware and dating scams.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Graham,

    Google's explanation of search results.

    If you have a Google account you can turn off Web History to get non-personalised searches. You used to be able to put &pws=0 in your search query to turn off personalisation when you weren't logged in but that seems to have been broken by recent changes. You can also go to google.com/ncr to turn off automatic country redirection so you can use google for any country and see how the localisation affects searches. Google also claim that you will see a 'View customizations' link if your search results have been personalised, but I've never seen it myself.

    Also, go to http://www.google.com/ads/preferences/ to see how Google targets ads at you based on your browsing.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2011 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts, in reply to Jonathan King,

    Much as I am concerned about the privacy issues, I agree with Jonathan that FB's biggest crime is breaking the internet. I am sad to see G+ going the same way, rather than providing a better aggregation service to nurture a world of interconnected but independent services.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Peter Graham,

    Also, go to http://www.google.com/ads/preferences/ to see how Google targets ads at you based on your browsing.

    See, now I'm even more mystified, because following that link shows me reference and language resource categories that are so vague I can see why I'd get ads in languages I've never studied let alone used, but a little googling gets me this page, which seems to suggest that because my google interface language is English - and besides, my preferred browser is in English, alternative browsers and OS are in Chinese, and if it were Facebook-style tracking everything I read it would see English, Chinese, French, and perhaps a tiny smattering of German, so even if Google did look beyond the user's interface language there's no way it should be giving me ads in Hebrew or Arabic or scripts I can't even identify.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Attachment

    I clicked Stephen’s link, quite quickly found a search five years old and mildly embarrassing and thought about deleting the lot. And then I thought, actually, this data improves the quality of my searches …

    Ok, so apparently I had to turn it on. Unintentionally, I might be doing this right.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2450 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts, in reply to Peter Graham,

    Also, go to http://www.google.com/ads/preferences/ to see how Google targets ads at you based on your browsing.

    Mine included:

    Autos & Vehicles - Bicycles & Accessories

    Nice to see that Google classifies bicycles as vehicles.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Martin Roberts,

    But the number one reason why all these companies are evil is because they want to be the internet. They want, like all businesses, to maximise their profits, and the way to really do that is to no longer have competition. If you're stuck inside Facebook or Google's web, all advertising profit from your internet use goes to that one company instead of being shared between several. Facebook is a Microsoft that produces nothing useful. Google is Microsoft with quality control.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Does Apple similarly monitor usage of its closed ecosystem? I guess at least their model has direct revenue streams from hardware and downloaded tunes and apps, so the need to make money from info about people's habits might be lessened.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    idle worship...

    Having passively acquired 656 Facebook “friends”
    I wouldn’t be totally relaxed about this.

    You are just 10 off that number...
    when they all become Faust Book Fiends...

    pacts and sphincteral contracts...

    If they have, or develop, a more sinister intent than just making money (if that is sinister enough), we’re all screwed. Otherwise, what to do?

    No such thing as a free lunch, dine wid him
    and de debbil will have his due...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson, in reply to Sacha,

    Does Apple similarly monitor usage of its closed ecosystem?

    I'm sure they'll happily sue you if you ask :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Faust Book Fiends

    Ian, you are wonderful. Just so you know.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to JacksonP,

    This too...

    "Your browser's cookies seem to be disabled. Ads Preferences will not work until you enable cookies in your browser."

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

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