Tag Archives: Online Privacy

ICA 2012: Researching Social Media: Ethical and Methodological Challenges

I’m currently in Phoenix, AZ for the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, participating on an important panel on “Researching Social Media: Ethical and Methodological Challenges“, organized by Anders Olof Larsson (Uppsala) and Hallvard Moe (Bergen). The panel is listed under the Communication and Technology division of ICA, but has implications well beyond that […]

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How to Adjust your Facebook Privacy Settings – 2012 Edition

The 2012 edition of Choose Privacy Week, the annual initiative of the American Library Association that invites the public into a national conversation about privacy rights in a digital age, is wrapping up (and don’t miss our special screening of the short documentary film “Big Brother, Big Business: The Data-Mining and Surveillance Industries” tomorrow at […]

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Are Ex-Friend's Activities Visible in Facebook's Feed and Ticker?

Recently I noticed what appears to be some kind of bug — and potentially major privacy concern — on Facebook’s feed and ticker features. Let me explain the scenario: For a moderate amount of time, I had been a “friend” with someone on Facebook, and we appeared to have full visibility of each others activities. […]

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My Research in The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Harvard's Privacy Meltdown"; some annotations

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published an article featuring my critique of the privacy protections and research methods related to the “Taste, Ties, and Time” (T3) Facebook research study conducted by a set of Harvard sociologists. Written by Marc Parry, the article is not-so-subtly teased as “Harvard’s Privacy Meltdown” on the Chronicle’s front page, […]

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Firefox 5 Adds Cross-Platform "Do Not Track", and Puts it in Privacy Tab

A few months ago Mozilla released Firefox 4, which featured an important “Do Not Track” function which informs websites and advertisers whether you wish to have your activity monitored and collected for behavioral targeting purposes. The problem, however, was that Firefox essentially buried the option, forcing users to stumble upon it on the “Advanced” tab […]

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Amici Brief to Judge in WikiLeaks-Twitter Case: Protect Users' Fourth Amendment Privacy Interests

In December 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice subpoenaed Twitter for information on several people associated with WikiLeaks, seeking the users’ full contact details (phone numbers and addresses), account payment method if any (credit card and bank account number), IP addresses used to access the account, connection records (“records of session times and durations”) and […]

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Firefox 4 Adds "Do Not Track", but Buries It

Mozilla has released Firefox version 4, featuring a new look and feel (Chrome, anyone?), and new privacy and security features. The feature with the most potential — and the most buzz — is “Do Not Track,” which “lets you tell websites you don’t want your browsing behavior tracked.” This is an important step towards giving […]

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PostPref: A Facebook App to Help Manage Photo Privacy

A number of years ago, Daniel Howe and Helen Nissenbaum at New York University developed and released TrackMeNot, a lightweight Firefox browser extension that protects users against search data profiling by issuing randomized queries to popular search-engines with fake data. TrackMeNot obscures users’ actual search trails in a cloud of ‘ghost’ queries, significantly increasing the […]

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OpEd: How to Win Friends and Manipulate People

In response to recent Facebook privacy fiascoes — the privacy upgrade downgrade and inevitable backtracking, Zuckerberg’s (and other exec’s) various ill-informed remarks, etc, etc — I’ve co-authored an op-ed with Chris Hoofnagle, the director of information privacy programs at the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law & Technology, where we criticize Facebook’s “perfection of privacy public relations.”

The piece appears in The Huffington Post, and is titled “How to Win Friends and Manipulate People”. Here’s an excerpt:

These events represent the perfection of privacy public relations. Guided by earlier battles fought by tobacco and drug companies, information-intensive firms have learned how to use rhetoric to distract the public while successfully implementing new programs. They are the Machiavellis of privacy.

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Baym: Facebook's Views on Privacy are “Fundamentally Naive and Utopian”

GigaOm highlights an interview with Nancy Baym, associate professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas and author of Personal Connections in the Digital Age, on the limitations in Facebook’s approach to privacy. The interview covers various important issues, but Baym’s main concern is that Facebook has a “fundamentally naive and Utopian” view of […]

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