Facebook Privacy and Canada

The current buzz in Facebook news today is the report released by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner in which she finds that “Facebook needs to improve privacy practices” and has given them 3o days to comply. Putting aside the ridiculous assumptions that a Canadian bureaucrat should have any say in a Social Networking site, there are a few points in her report and in Facebook’s practices that I want to address.

One of commissioner¬†Jennifer Stoddart‘s comments was that Facebook needs to be transparent with their users. This is a great point that has been made by critics of the “walled garden” approach for quite some time. Facebook had addressed this issue by become more open, listing accounts on Google, and granting usernames. But this was another point of contention.

According to Ms Stoddart, users should have their accounts completely private – no sharing outside your network – unless they opt in. Now, my gut reaction is to see this as antithesis to the notion of Social Media. If you sign up for a Facebook account, you are saying that you want to be “found” on the internet, and to share you pictures, stories and life, with anyone who wants to. That is the social aspect of Social Media.

I could be completely out to lunch here, in fact I probably am. But I wanted to start a discussion. How much privacy is too much privacy (in Social Media)? Does the Commissioner have any jurisdiction over Facebook?

Facebook Spam

I’ve had my first experience with Facebook spam.

By spam, I do not mean the hordes of chain letters, application invites, and general annoyances I get from my friends lists. Spam is completely unsolicited messages or wall posts from people I do not have on my contact list. Spam is basically automated communication.

Last night I got a message in my inbox from someone that thought I was cool, wished we could chat, but since Facebook had no such feature, wanted me to join another social networking site.

I was quite surprised by this. First, did they just type a random name in to the send box? Second, how does Facebook allow sending messages to people you don’t have on your contact list? Has anyone else had experience with this?

I hope that this does not increase, or even continue. Facebook remained the last place where I was free from spam. I liked it that way, and want it to remain spam-free.

New Theme

If you browse over to my site, and not read this post through a rss reader or on Facebook, you’ll see that I’ve switched wordpress themes. I was just getting tired of the one I was using so I felt it was time for a change.

Problem is, I’m not so sure I really like it that much.

What do my readers think though? An improvement? A step back? No real difference?

Quick Links

Keeping up to date on what you favorite sites are doing, and the changes their implementing is really easy: all you have to do is read their blogs. In fact this is where most big tech sites get their info.

Here are some of my favorites

Facebook Blog
Twitter Blog
Google Blog
Internet 2.0

Calendar

Facebook events need a calendar like Google has. Or I need a way of importing all my events into Google. Something.

And a SMS message reminding me of upcoming events would be good to.

Automatic Profile Generator

Its been a few days since my last post, as well as a long period of nothing but Facebook and Twitter talk. I’m moving away from those topics today.

I recently had (what I consider) a very useful idea. So many sites these days ask their users to fill out a small profile describing themselves, or to say whatever they’d like. I’m sure everyone’s seen them on social networking sites. Its tedious to constantly come up with something to fill it with, I would prefer I had something prewritten that I could just dump in.

I know I could just type up a Word document with a profile and save that on my harddrive and just pull it up everytime I need a profile, but I want an easier way to create a profile and something I can access anywhere

What I need is a website that automatically generates profiles.

The user answers a series of questions and a profile is created based on their answers. Creating an account would allow their profile to be saved and accessed or modified any time they want. Multiple profiles could also be created for different sites, just changed the type of questions asked

I have no idea how this could be accomplished, or even the first step in getting itdone. If anyone has any further ideas, knows how to get the practical ball rolling or better yet has heard of such a service, let me know. I think this idea really has potential.

Update Facebook with Twitter

Having published an earlier article on how to use your Facebook status to update Twitter I started to think about the possibility of doing the reverse: update your Facebook status via Twitter. I looked around Facebook and even did some Google searches but I was unable to come up with any way.

So I emailed the help desk at Facebook:

“I was wondering if there is anyway to update my Facebook status
from a site outside of Facebook, such as Twitter, Pownce or Jaiku.
I know its possible to update these sites using an RSS feed, but can
the reverse be done?”

The response I got back was:

“Unfortunately, the feature you are requesting is not currently
available. We will keep your suggestion in mind, however, as we
continue to improve the site. Let me know if you have any further
questions. ”

So thats the current situation, Facebook will allow outgoing RSS feeds but not incoming. It’ll be interesting to see when, if ever, Facebook will open up to other sites.

More Facebook Features

I just discovered this and I bet many of my readers haven’t found it yet either

Facebook Phone book!!

If one of my friends has a phone number in their profile it lists it here. All arranged alphabetically. With their profile picture alongside. Now if there was only a way to access this on my phone.Consider this a call to update your profile with a phone number, I’ll definitively appreciate it.

To access your own Facebook phone book browse to your Facebook home page. On the left hand side under applications click mobile. On the mobile page the second tab will open your phone book. Pretty neat eh?

Two in One Day

Everyone knows how I love Facebook. But I also love combining everything I use the inter-web for in one place. With the introduction of Facebook Apps this has become even easier. (I’m going to write about facebook apps in a much more detail later)

Once I switched over to wordpress and I was automatically given an RSS feed I started to use it all over the place. One particular instace was to import all my posts on WordPress into Facebook as notes. It was done automatically every time I wrote something new.

While WordPress has developed their own app that allows me to seemlessly combine both these sites. Now I can write a post in Facebook and it will show up on WordPress and vice-versa.

You can read more about this here