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I came across a story today with the headline How your smartphone’s battery life can be used to invade your privacy. I only read part of it, but I assume it’s completely sensational nonsense. So for today’s post, I’d like to make up some more sensation headlines about privacy.

Using deeply personal device that is constantly connected to Internet may compromise privacy

Posting your activities online may be used to invade your privacy

Doing things outside may compromise privacy

Telling people what you did last night may be invasion of privacy

If you do anything people might know

Please. Stop.

Why 2013 was a Great Year for Tech

I read a rather annoying article last week about why 2013 was a bad year for tech. I felt was lazily written; the main reason is it only highlighted the major news stories, didn’t add any analysis, and didn’t mention any of the good to go along with the bad. It was a very one-sided article that provided no insight, and in all honestly, was probably a grab for end of the year blog traffic. Well in my feeble attempt at a grab for end of the year blog traffic, here’s why I think 2013 was a great year for tech.

Quick Tip: Download an Archive of your Facebook Data

There’s a lot going on on the Internet right now. Websites getting hacked (Blizzard being the most recent), companies doing presumably whatever they want with our data, and the cultivation of a group of people who over-share (this includes yours truly). I’ve written a bit on Facebook and other social media and how I think it’s affecting our culture. What I haven’t seen a lot of is writing on what’s called, “Data Liberation.” This is, retrieving your data from the social networks you use so often.

Employers and Colleges Asking to see Social Network Activity

This morning a read a story on MSNBC that got me all fired up: Govt. agencies, colleges demand applicants’ Facebook passwords.

It talks about potential employers and schools asking for access to view facebook/twitter accounts either by logging in during an interview or by friending an official.  This is not OK; it shouldn’t be happening on any level and the fact that it’s going on is an invasion of privacy.

If you go through the time to set certain things on private, they should stay private. If you can’t ask personal questions during an interview, Facebook should be off limits as well, so long as it’s set to private by the user.

Everyone should be aware of what’s happening and of your rights in these cases. Unfortunately, there isn’t a law against this yet (unless you can make the argument that it answers illegal job interview questions) but you can always ask the interview why they want access and how it applies to the job. If they can’t make their case, kindly refuse their request and remind them about the kind of questions that are off limits during interviews.

If you’d rather not deal with that kind of confrontation, you could always say you don’t have a Facebook account, or create a “professional” one that you use to show interviewers. The point, however, is that employers and schools should not be asking for this information in the first place.

People Need to Relax About Google’s New Policy

I’m going to tell you a story- an anecdote of sorts. I decide one day that I am going to, of my own free will, run down a crowded street, screaming facts about myself. “I’M 26 YEARS OLD,” “I COME FROM MIDDLETOWN, NY,” “I SING A LITTLE TOO LOUD WHEN I’M IN THE SHOWER.” A few days later, I read online that someone said I’m a 26 year old man that sings too loud in the shower and I get pissed about it. Doesn’t that seem unreasonable to you? I freely gave up this information in a very public way. This is how I view people that are reacting poorly to Google’s new privacy policy, which really, isn’t anything new.

Facebook Places

A couple of weeks ago Facebook announced the latest service in their social networking scheme, Places. It allows you to ‘check-in’ using your iPhone or the mobile web and post your location to your Facebook profile. You can also tag friends and see who is nearby. I asked my students- college freshmen- what they thought of Facebook Places and got some pretty good replies. Let’s take a look!

Quick Tip: Facebook Privacy Settings

Facebook, at their annual F8 Conference in San Fransisco, announced that they were expanding the reach of social networking to make it easier for 3rd party sites to access your information on Facebook. This sounds awesomely wonderful if you don’t care about the info you put online. A possible plus is full integration between your likes and related sites. Maybe you “Like” a director on Facebook, so IMDB recognizes it and changes it’s homepage to some of his upcoming work for you. However, you may also see that this is big brother horrifying. It’s also opt-out, not in. So today’s Quick Tip is how to opt out.