In Google we trust

On Monday night, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Four Corners program aired a story entitled In Google we trust.

Every hour of every day, our digital interactions are being recorded and logged. We live in the age of ‘big data’, where seemingly mundane information about how we go about our lives has enormous value.

Four Corners, with the help of expert data trackers, we follow the information trail of an ordinary Australian family. We follow their data over a typical day, watching as it is surreptitiously recorded by government agencies and private organisations.

Who gathers the information, what are they doing with it and what are your legal rights?

Watch the video here.

The bins have ears

In another blow to privacy, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that shopping centres and street side rubbish bins are tracking us.

Rubbish bins tracking pedestrians as they walk along the street sound like something out of a sci-fi movie. But a few weeks ago it emerged that recycling and rubbish bins installed along London’s Cheapside Street were monitoring pedestrians through millions of smartphones.

However, it’s not just the residents of London that need to be aware of this.

Australia’s Westfield already uses this technology to track smartphones at three shopping centres. ”Westfield is capable of using the MAC identifier system in its centres but cannot collect any data other than to know smartphones are moving within,” a company spokeswoman said.

Westfield offers free internet access in three centres across Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Visitors can opt in to the service but Westfield can also monitor the movements of smartphones without the owners logging in to its wi-fi network.

Its privacy policy states it collects information ”where devices are able to connect to, or are identifiable by, in-centre infrastructure” and that it uses ”this information so that we can tell … where shoppers spend most of their time”.

Read the whole article here.

Helping families live safe digital lives

Yoursphere for parents provides an amazing array of resources on

  • Facebook must-knows
  • social media
  • cybersafety and
  • privacy

for students and parents. Although some posts are US specific, most of the resources are applicable to us in Australia.

Mary Kay Hoal is the author and creator of Yourshpere, a US based site with a wealth of information on ways to keep safe when using social media. “She is an Internet safety expert in the USA and the founder of Yoursphere.com.”

I’m 13 and none of my friends are on Facebook

Last week, Mashable published this post on the waning appeal of Facebook by a New York teenager.

Now, when we are old enough to get Facebook, we don’t want it. By the time we could have Facebooks, we were already obsessed with Instagram. Facebook was just this thing all our parents seemed to have.

Let’s say I get invited to a party, and there’s underage drinking. I’m not drinking, but someone pulls out a camera. Even if I’m not carrying a red Solo cup, I could be photographed behind a girl doing shots. Later that week, the dumb-dumb decides to post photos from that “amazing” party. If my mom saw I was at a party with drinking, even if I wasn’t participating, I’d be dead. This isn’t Facebook’s fault, but it happens there.

Facebook is also a big source of bullying in middle school. Kids might comment something mean on a photo of you, or message you mean things. This isn’t Facebook’s fault, but again, it does happen there. If my mom heard I was getting bullied on Facebook, she would tell me to quit right away.

An interesting insight into teenagers’ thoughts about social media. Read the whole post here.

How to stay private on Facebook (yes, again…)

Last week, The Age reported that controlling your privacy on Facebook is about to become a whole lot easier.

If you’ve never played with your Facebook privacy settings, the first thing you’ll want to do is safeguard your future. On Facebook.com, click the little padlock on the top right, then under “Who can see my stuff” make sure “Friends” is selected – unless you want all your content to be public by default. As a further precaution, if you have a particular Facebook friend who you want to hide stuff from – a relative or a boss perhaps – add them to a “restricted list”. This will keep them as a friend but hide anything not set to “Public” from them, without their knowledge. To restrict a friend, go to their profile, hover your mouse over the “Friends” box, select “Add to another list” and then select “Restricted”.

The article also explains how to untag yourself in photos and how to see what your profile looks like to other users. Read the whole article here.

Facebook hashtags. What they mean to your privacy

A little while back, Facebook introduced hashtags. If you already use Twitter, then you’ll know that hashtags are a way of grouping, classifying or finding tweets on a particular topic.

With the introduction of Facebook hashtags though, there have been some questions about privacy. Mashable has addressed these questions. They explain:

Consumer Reports study last year found that 28% of Facebook users make all their posts public. By default, every tweet is public on Twitter, while Facebook’s default is private.

Thus, to get a hashtag to really catch on, marketers need to instruct consumers to make their status updates public. That’s what the cable net BET did when it tried to get viewers of its BET Awards last month to use Facebook hashtags.

Read the whole article here.

How to lock down your Facebook privacy – yes again!

Due to changes to Facebook over the past few days, Mashable has published a new guide on how to lock down your Facebook privacy, yet again. They explain:

Facebook privacy settings are complex and, to make things more difficult, they change on a regular basis.

We explored how to lock down your Facebook account’s privacy settings, for both your public profile and under the hood. Follow this simple step-by-step process to make sure you’re not sharing anything outside your comfort zone.

This illustrated step-by-step guide is a must for anyone with a Facebook account.

Study finds inappropriate Facebook updates cost jobs

CBS News (USA) is reporting that ill thought out and inappropriate social media updates are costing people jobs.

24 year old Ashley Payne didn’t know that a festive photo of her holding both a pint of beer and a glass of red wine would lead to her losing her high school teaching job.

However, the ill advised use of social media is also denying some applicants job interviews:

According to a new report, turning down young job candidates because of what they post on social media has become commonplace. The report, by On Device Research, states that 1 in 10 people between ages 16 and 34 have been turned down for a new job because of photos or comments on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social networking sites.

Employers googling job candidates is the new normal. Constant self filtering is now required at all times.