Categories
Applications

Brave browser seems to protect our privacy the most

I’ve been curious about the Brave browser for a little while now, and I’ve switched to Brave for any Chromium-based browser stuff I do (testing, browsing on sites that don’t support Firefox, and so on).

I found this Ars Technica post interesting. They summarise a study into browsers and privacy, and found that Brave probably protects our privacy the most:

Specifically, the study examined the browsers’ sending of data—including unique identifiers and details related to typed URLs—that could be used to track users over time. The findings put the browsers into three categories with Brave getting the highest ranking, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari receiving a medium ranking, and Edge and Yandex lagging behind the rest.

Study ranks the privacy of major browsers. Here are the findings | Ars Technica

I still default to Firefox (specifically Firefox Developer Edition). At the same time, I’m happy to keep exploring the Brave alternative.

Categories
Blogs and blogging Social Web

“Are our present social media posts going to mortify our kids in the future?”

One of the challenges of being a parent in a time where we can share so much of our lives on social media is deciding how much to share about our kids. I decided to stop sharing much more than tidbits about our kids online a year or two ago. One of the reasons I stepped back was this:

One commenter criticized parents like the essay’s author for having “turned their family’s daily dramas into content.” Another said the woman’s essay surfaces a “nagging – and loaded – question among parents in the age of Instagram. … Are our present social media posts going to mortify our kids in the future?”

Michelle Ruiz

Of course part of the challenge is that our friends and family are likely on Facebook, and that’s where they share their lives. They don’t necessarily share publicly (as in the Public sharing option), but Facebook is their social hub.

Sharing our kids’ lives isn’t a modern phenomenon. Parents have been doing it for generations. What’s new is that we can share so much, across such vast distances, and at scale. Far beyond ye olde photo albums with printed photos. As Priya Kumar pointed out

Unlike the diary entries, photo albums and home videos of yore, blog posts, Instagram photos and YouTube videos reside in platforms owned by corporations and can be made visible to far more people than most parents realize or expect.

Facebook and the problem with posting about your kids online

I created a private family blog that is only accessible to family and close friends as a way to still share our lives with family and friends, and only with them. It hasn’t attracted much interest, though, and the reason seems to be that it’s not on Facebook, and therefore not part of that social hub.

It’s tempting to just go back to sharing this stuff on Facebook, and rejoin the collective there. The problem with this is that doing that is more likely to be harmful to our kids. And that doesn’t justify the convenience to our friends and family.

So, I reconsidered the value of our family blog. Instead of its primary purpose being a way to share our lives with friends and family in a way that better protects our kids’ privacy, I see it as a great way to document our lives for our kids.

I’d love to see our friends and family interacting with our family blog, but I’m not expecting to see that for the time being. Facebook has too much of a hold over our digital, social interactions (at least in my circles).

WhatsApp is a pretty prominent platform too, but sending a WhatsApp message to a family group isn’t the same as a blog post with photo galleries, a story, links, and maps that I use to document our experiences.

There are definitely more private options available for sharing our personal lives online. I’m partial to blogs but there are adoption drawbacks.

Still, given the choice between fewer visits from Facebook (and other) hold-outs, and committing our children to a degree of publicity they won’t want as they grow up, I’m comfortable adjusting my expectations of how many people will visit our family blog.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Anna Samoylova
Categories
Mindsets Policy issues Social Web

Some perspective on Facebook to for the maddening crowds

It’s almost fashionable to bash Facebook at the moment. To a large degree, the criticism is well deserved. At the same time, we should maintain some perspective on the reports, and resist the urge to be carried away by the maddening crowds.

I read Jeff Jarvis’ post titled “Facebook. Sigh.” recently. He makes an argument that Facebook’s executives aren’t necessarily malicious, they’re just really not thinking through the implications of what they do, or even why shouldn’t do what they do.

None of this is to say that Facebook is not fucking up. It is. But its fuckups are not so much of the kind The Times, The Guardian, cable news, and others in media dream of in their dystopias: grand theft user data! first-degree privacy murder! malignant corporate cynicism! war on democracy! No, Facebook’s fuckups are cultural in the company — as in the Valley — which is to say they are more complex and might go deeper.

For example, I was most appalled recently when Facebook — with three Jewish executives at the head — hired a PR company to play into the anti-Semitic meme of attacking George Soros because he criticized Facebook. What the hell were they thinking? Why didn’t they think?

Jeff Jarvis

I recently blogged about Facebook sharing private messages with various companies. While we probably don’t know all the details, this clarification from Facebook is not unreasonable:

Why did the messaging partners have read/write/delete messaging access?

That was the point of this feature — for the messaging partners mentioned above, we worked with them to build messaging integrations into their apps so people could send messages to their Facebook friends.

Specifically, we made it possible for people to message their friends what music they were listening to in Spotify or watching on Netflix directly from the Spotify or Netflix apps (see screen shots below), to message links to Dropbox folders (like a collection of photographs) from the Dropbox app, and to message receipts from money transfers through the Royal Bank of Canada app.

In order for you to write a message to a Facebook friend from within Spotify, for instance, we needed to give Spotify “write access.” For you to be able to read messages back, we needed Spotify to have “read access.” “Delete access” meant that if you deleted a message from within Spotify, it would also delete from Facebook. No third party was reading your private messages, or writing messages to your friends without your permission. Many news stories imply we were shipping over private messages to partners, which is not correct.

Facts About Facebook’s Messaging Partnerships

One of the factors that Facebook points out is that they share your personal information in terms of their privacy policy, so with your permission. The big question is how familiar you are with Facebook’s privacy policy?

James Ball tweeted a similar criticism of reports about the private message issue:

https://twitter.com/jamesrbuk/status/1075757840353124352

It’s worthwhile reading Jarvis’ post:

Featured image by Thought Catalog

Categories
Social Web

Facebook messages aren’t so private after all

From the New York Times article, “As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants – The New York Times” –

Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

New York Times

Really Facebook?!

Categories
Policy issues Social Web

Should You Quit Facebook?

Whether you’re concerned about recent news about the extent of Facebook’s tracking or not, this discussion is worth watching:

Categories
Business and work Policy issues

Perhaps you should reconsider targeted advertising

A paradigm-shifting conversation with one of my editors prompted to consider the merit of not targeting online ads using consumers’ personal information. That, in turn, led to my latest article on MarkLives titled “Marketers should reconsider targeted online ads” which was published today:

Conventional wisdom in the marketing industry seems to be that better targeted ads are more effective. It makes sense. If you can present an ad to a consumer whom you believe is actually interested in your services, surely that consumer will be more inclined to purchase from you?

A prominent example of this thinking in action is Facebook, where ads are customised based on your Facebook activity and profile data. If you start posting about your love for sushi and share that love in your profile, you can be sure you will soon see ads for sushi products and restaurants alongside your News Feed.

One of the implications of not targeting consumers using their personal information is that your marketing campaigns may sidestep the Protection of Personal Information Act’s constraints. It is an interesting benefit, if that pans out, because of the compliance overhead the Act requires. Of course marketers would have to weigh up the benefits of targeting ads using personal information and the costs of complying with the Protection of Personal Information Act but its an interesting idea.

There is more to my article so go read it and let me know what you think?

Categories
Mindsets Social Web

Ello, good-bye. Stick to @Path or settle for Facebook.

Ello seems to have captured everyone’s attention with the promise of a better social network that addresses the challenges facing Facebook for many users. I don’t have access to Ello yet but based on what I can glean from the Ello site, it isn’t anything to get excited about. Here is an extract from my article on htxt titled “Is Ello the answer to Facebook privacy concerns, or is there another Path?“:

The hype around Ello reminds me of another social network that promised relief from Facebook’s unblinking gaze: Path. Like Ello, Path doesn’t use personal data to inform ads on its network. Path has no ads and, instead, relies on paid premium features to generate revenue to fund its operations. Unlike Ello, Path is private by design. If you are looking for a social network which is not being indexed by search engines and where you can share your personal stuff with a select group of friends with meaningful control over who can see your stuff, then Path is your better bet.

Ello isn’t really solving a problem that hasn’t been solved. Path is a far better bet for privacy conscious users. The real challenge isn’t finding an alternative to Facebook, it is persuading enough people to switch to the Facebook alternative to make the alternative a viable social network. Ello may be a far superior experience (I don’t have my invitation yet so I don’t have first-hand experience with Ello) but it will fail to gain enough traction to make a dent in Facebook’s userbase for one simple reason: everyone is using Facebook and it works well for them.

If anything, Ello inspires more faith in the Path vision:

Read the full article for more.

Categories
Business and work

Advertising should be about attention, not privacy

Facebook’s expanded ad model is controversial to say the least. John Gruber made a good point in his post titled “Facebook to Use Web Browsing History for Ad Targeting”:

“Google does it” is not exactly a badge of honor, privacy-wise. More and more, the entire advertising industry is turning into a threat to privacy. Advertising should be about attention, not privacy.