My Phone Knows Everything About Me and I’m Cool With That

iphonetracker.jpg
Andrew Hyde gets around. The iPhone Tracker app confirms this. (Photo via flickr).

Andrew Hyde sold all of his worldly possessions last August and began a trip around the world. He makes no secret of this — its detailed on his website. We’re well aware that personal information becomes vulnerable whenever we agree to the terms of service of yet another fun geo-location mobile app as it typically utilizes information from the phone’s positioning to track real-time location. But this week, geodata geek and author Pete Warden released an open-source iPhone application that exploits a file in iPhone 4 (or iPad 3G) containing all recorded geographic data in the phone’s history.

The information is available without a password to anyone with access to a laptop that the iPhone in question has synced with, notes Hyde. iPhones and iPads on iOS 4 record approximate the data based on the devices distance from the cell tower it is connected to at any given time. Is this something to worry about? Not really. Unless you’re a criminal with a bullshit alibi — data from cellphones and other mobile devices have been used by authorities for years.

Thanks to a California Supreme Court decision in January, no warrant is required for authorities in our state to search cell phones or mobile devices of arrestees.

Continue reading “My Phone Knows Everything About Me and I’m Cool With That”

Twitter Knows Me Well, Suggests ‘Who to Follow’

twitter suggested followers who to follow personalizedIt’s mid-2010 and the social web is finally getting comfortable with the opening and exploitation of the “social graph.” It likely helped that Facebook took a bit of backlash over the past few months to pave the way for the rest. And now, like any good social network should, Twitter is beginning to show the cards that we (the users) dealt it.

Twitter’s “Who to Follow” personalized suggestions can now be seen in the right-hand sidebar of the Twitter.com user web app and under this tab. This is familiar territory to anyone who uses Facebook or even Amazon. Twitter knows who you follow and who follows you back as well as who many in your circle follow that you do not yet follow. Hence the social graph. It’s a wild and crazy algorithm, but if you think about it in physical terms, we all have friends that we want to introduce specifically to other friends. And it should be assumed that by using Twitter, you hope to communicate with and discover new peers, business partners, etc.

Continue reading “Twitter Knows Me Well, Suggests ‘Who to Follow’”

Privacy Concerns and Social Networks

myspace facebook privacyIt was refreshing to see MySpace break out of its relative silence this week with a note addressing user privacy settings on social networks. Good to see you again MySpace, though we sometimes forget you’re still around we’re no longer threatening to delete our long-nascent profiles en masse or anything like that.

MySpace served itself well by publishing the note MySpace Empowers Users With New, Simpler Privacy Setting in outlining the company’s ethos and it’s mission to enable both discovery and self-expression for users since its inception in 2003.

But MySpace’s memo falls short on definition and lacks any sort of road map (beyond “in the coming weeks…”) to give users the “we’re in this together” feeling that Facebook so often overlooks. And it’s more than 3 weeks after the Facebook open graph-api-privacy hubbub broke out. Facebook privacy concerns made headlines again on May 5 when a glitch that provided access to some users’ private information was uncovered (and allegedly patched within hours).

Continue reading “Privacy Concerns and Social Networks”

Keeping Track of What we Read in Class

I was looking all over for the syllabus from a course I was fortunate to take in the fall of 2006 at USC, Set-Top Box: Hollywood’s Secret War on Your Living Room. As if it wasn’t enough to meet weekly with Cory Doctorow, the guests he brought in and the material we read were priceless and it has all stuck with me in many ways. Having tracked down the syllabus in an old socialtext wiki I thought I’d reprint it here so I no longer have to dig and dig and dig to refer back to some of the readings. The class blog and my class project are still online.

Continue reading “Keeping Track of What we Read in Class”

Facebook’s Walled Garden a Gulag?

share on facebookOn February 4 Facebook revised their Terms of Service, removing a clause stating that user content would no longer be under license to Facebook.

Well, now the terms indicate that anything you ever upload or share to your facebook profile — regardless of whether your account is active — is Facebook’s property to do whatever they want with.

UPDATE: Facebook did an about face and reverted to its previous ToS per a blog post on feb 17.

Did anyone receive notification to review the new Terms of Service before someone finally stumbled upon it — an outrageous 11 days after the fact? What if major publishers decide to boycott by removing “share on facebook” links? That’s not happening, not with the increasing traffic these blogs/sites receive via Facebook referrals.

This is the Internet, folks, and this is nothing new and hardly a surprise from Facebook — it was only a matter of time that they reworded the terms of content ownership (check out my previous posts on Facebook privacy here, here, and here).

If you’re someone who openly shares details and content on the Internet (as I do), you’re only fooling yourself if you believe said content cannot be “stolen” or used against you. Think you’re pre-February 4th content is protected (if you have since deleted your Facebook profile? Not likely. Facebook is the model for a walled garden online network. Now we’ll see how far they go with their power to abuse, sell, sublicense and manipulate user data and content.

The key passages of the ToS are below (new ToS / old ToS)

Continue reading “Facebook’s Walled Garden a Gulag?”