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    Default Beware of Facebook and other Social sites

    Imams forbid use of Facebook for flirting or gossiping

    Indonesian imams label "virtual" flirting a sin

    Surabaya, INDONESIA (Agencies)

    A group of Indonesian imams warned Muslims on Friday not to use popular Internet networking sites like Facebook for flirting or gossiping.

    A non-binding resolution issued after a meeting of hundreds of scholars from Java and Bali islands warns that using sites like Facebook can lead to sinful lust and "obscenity."

    "We forbid the use of Facebook, Friendster and other social networking sites unless they are being used to foster Islamic teaching," a spokesman for the clerics, Abdul Muid Shohib, said.

    "So spreading ill words about others, gossiping and other things that go against religious teaching on social networking sites in the virtual world are forbidden according to Islamic law."

    Facebook is hugely popular in the world's most populous Muslim country, and while rulings from Islamic clerics are influential they are rarely followed to the letter.

    Indonesia ranks fifth behind the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and France in terms of Facebook use, according to Internet tracking website Alexa.com.

    This is despite its crumbling or, in many areas, non-existent digital infrastructure, and the fact that the majority of the country's 234 million people have little or no access to computers.

    Shohib acknowledged that the networking site, where people can set up their own profile pages and share comments and pictures with their friends, was also popular among students and imams at Indonesia's conservative Islamic schools.

    "We realize that the virtual world is hard to control," he said.

    "There are many senior imams who worry because ****ographic images often pop out while they interact through Facebook," he added.


    Not Just Facebook, Friendsters and as such but also other very popular social sites like myspace, hi5, twitter. Basically use common sense, anything you can/cannot do in person also applies online. Some of the things that are being done that are sinful and can be haraam are such as

    - gossiping, lying, backbiting
    - flirting, cybering, webcaming, etc
    - posting pictures online (see hadith about 2nd look being a sin and ayah of staying in your homes and wanton displays)
    - posting inappropriate pictures in tight clothing, even undergarments
    - allowing strangers in your bedroom via posting such pictures
    - basically leaving Islam at the door while coming online

    There are even some practicing Muslims who fall into this trap of shaytan and give in. while they do hijab and cover properly (men and women) offline, online you see pictures of them that will make you think if it’s same person?

    When we get online, inshallah we should fear Allah and remember this ayah every time: “Verily, the hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those you will be questioned (by Allaah).” [al-Israa’ 17:36]

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    Post Beware of Facebook and other Social sites

    Beware Facebook 'Friends' Who Trash Your Laptop

    The message that popped into Laurie Gale's Facebook inbox last month seemed harmless enough — a friend had seen a video of her and had sent a link so she could view it.

    January 30, 2009

    The link led to a video site that prompted her to update her video software, which she did.

    "Within seconds, everything started shutting itself down," says Gale, a 37-year-old lamp-works artist from Versailles, Ky.

    Gale's new Dell Inspiron laptop had been infected with malicious software, or malware, that has spread through social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

    "I cried for an hour," Gale says. It took a trip to the local computer repair shop and several phone calls with Dell customer-service representatives for her to restore the computer to its factory settings. "It was three days of torture."

    The popularity of social networks and social media sites has grabbed the attention of cyber crooks searching to pilfer passwords, called "phishing," and steal sensitive personal information.

    The hackers are exploiting users' sense of safety within these sites, says Pat Clawson, chief executive of Lumension Security, a computer security company.

    Earlier this month, Twitter, a social site in which users communicate in short bursts of text, was hit in a campaign to steal users' account passwords. On business-networking site LinkedIn, criminals set up fake celebrity profiles that, when visited, downloaded malware onto users' machines.

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    Americans Spend Most Online Time on Facebook

    Sharon Gaudin, Computerworld - Jul 16, 2009

    Ever wonder what your co-worker or friend is doing online? The Nielsen Company has a pretty good idea what they're up to.

    Nielsen Online reported this week that people spend more time on Facebook than any other Web site. The study also notes that 87.25 million U.S. users visited Facebook from home and work during June, and each of those spent an average of four hours, 39 minutes and 33 seconds on the site during the month.

    Next in the popularity line was Yahoo and the sites and applications under its umbrella. More than 134 million U.S. users visited at least one of the Yahoo-owned sites or launched a Yahoo application during June, and they spent an average of three hours, 15 minutes and 55 seconds there.
    AOL came in third with users averaging two hours, 43 minutes and 10 seconds there. Google came in fourth with two hours, 31 minutes and 8 seconds, while Microsoft came in fifth with two hours, 12 minutes and 20 seconds, according to Nielsen.

    Facebook has been on quite a roll.

    Early last month, Nielsen reported that Facebook saw a 700% increase from April, 2008, to April, 2009, in the time users were spending on the site.
    Nielsen noted that Facebook isn't alone in its rapid rise. Twitter, though only the fifth most popular social networking site, saw users increase their time there by 3,712% over the same period.

    The unexpected, for some, driver of Facebook's dramatic growth has been users who are far older than the college-age crowd that founded and built it, according to a report issued last week by iStrategyLabs.

    Mirroring past reports about Facebook, iStrategyLabs data showed that while the number of Facebook's U.S. college and high school-age users declined over the past six months, its popularity among the 55-and-older crowd is booming. In fact, the number of 55-and-older Facebook users showed staggering growth -- 513.7% -- in the last six months, the digital consulting firm said.

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    The FBI needs to spend more time going after computer hackers and less time "visiting people for suspicious behavior". My friend at work is Hindu, but he could pass for a Muslim. He was out in the field doing a traffic study. Because he was driving up and down the street taking photos, he was visited by two "special" agents. Apparently, some dumb woman and her daughter took pictures of my friend and called the FBI.

    Attention all dumb people out there, the media has you scared to the point where people who are doing their jobs get visited by the FBI.

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    its the paranoia this nation's politicians, media, religious zealots and islamphobe have brainwashed the american people with...

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    The Downside of Friends: Facebook's Hacking Problem

    By Claire SuddathTuesday, May. 05, 2009

    You get a quick message from a friend on Facebook, click on the link and absentmindedly log in to a website pretending to be Facebook. This is what happened last week, when scammers unleashed a new attack on Facebook, collecting users' log-in information and passwords and pilfering victims' "friends" lists to target the next dopes. Listen up, people: Although Facebook has a reputation for Internet security — it identified the scam within hours, and the ripple effects only lasted for a couple days — at 200 million members and counting, the size and popularity of the social-networking site has made it the object of increasing attention from hackers and spammers. And if last week is any indication, it's only going to get worse.

    "In the '90s, scammers used e-mail," says Michael Argast, a security analyst at Sophos, an antivirus software company. "Today, it's social networking." Argast explains that although people have been trained not to click on suspicious e-mails, they don't operate with the same sense of caution when presented with a link on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe that's why the number of phishing attacks on these kinds of sites — in which people are fishing for account information, as opposed to infecting your computer with a virus — has skyrocketed recently, from 4,600 attacks in 2007 to 11,000 in 2008. This year doesn't look any better, with 6,400 attacks in the first three months of 2009.

    Like anything on the Internet, Facebook has never been completely scam-free, but its privacy settings may create a false sense of security: most users can't interact with one another unless they are "friends" or belong to the same general network. The site at first glance would also seem less of a gold mine for swindlers since unlike financial websites, which offer access to victims' bank accounts, there is no direct financial gain from hacking into a Facebook account. But the bad guys know that many of us are lazy or forgetful and use the same password on multiple sites. In early 2008, Facebook noticed a marked increase in the number of scams. "We're the most effective distribution platform on the Internet," says Ryan McGeehan, the company's incidence-response manager. "The level of person-to-person connection doesn't exist anywhere else. And as we get bigger, we become a bigger target."

    Facebook monitors users' activity, and when someone goes from a few wall posts a week to hundreds of messages within a few minutes, the security team can logically assume that the account has been hacked. They'll notify the user, reset the password, and the whole issue is usually resolved within a few hours. But when thousands of users are hacked at once — and then their friends are hacked, and their friends' friends are hacked — it can take a few days for Facebook to fix the problem. That's what happened on April 29 and 30, when users found themselves accidentally logging in to a website calledFBAction.net. Designed to look exactly like Facebook, the evil doppelgänger took their info and hacked their accounts.

    When MarkMonitor, an outside security company employed by Facebook, shut down the fake website, the scam popped up again on a different site, FBStarter.com. (It too has since been disabled.) "My guess is this was a pretty organized group of people," says Fred Felman, MarkMonitor's chief marketing officer. Felman says the phishers, whoever they were (Internet scammers almost never get caught), were not using the most up-to-date technology, but their creativity and speed makes him think that they have experience and will probably do it again.

    A similar phishing scam established a toehold on the website in January. And last year hackers broke into accounts by convincing people to click on links posted on their profile walls. Another common Facebook scam is to hack someone's account and then send messages to friends asking for money (like the old Nigerian businessman scam, but with a hey-it's-your-old-pal twist).

    Facebook won't say how many accounts were compromised last week, but a rep notes that the site has never had a scammer hack more than a small fraction of its accounts, adding that the company's security team — which has more than 100 analysts, engineers and programmers — can handle whatever comes their way. "We're going to be attacked again in the future," says McGeehan, "and my role is to be prepared when it happens."

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    Activists hijack Facebook groups 'to expose holes'


    SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - – Activists claimed to have seized control of nearly 300 Facebook community groups in a self-proclaimed effort to expose how vulnerable online reputations are to tampering.

    A group called "Control Your Info" (CYI) claimed credit for commandeering 289 Facebook groups, saying it was simple to get into poorly-protected administrative settings at the website.

    "This is just one example that really shows the vulnerabilities of social media," said a blog post at controlyour.info.

    "If you chose to express yourself on the Internet, make sure the expressions are your own and not a spammers. This isn't some kind of scare tactic, nor is it a hack, it's a feature that can be used, and is being used, in bad ways."

    CYI claimed its motives were pure and that the move was more of a "take-over" than a computer hack of Facebook groups.

    Facebook Groups are themed chat venues that users of the social networking service can join to socialize online with people who share interests.

    "Facebook Groups suffer from a major flaw," said a message on the CYI blog.

    "If an administrator of a group leaves, anyone can register as a new admin. So, in order to take control of a Facebook group, all you really have to do is a quick search on Google."

    Once CYI accessed groups as administrators it had authority to change anything, including pictures, descriptions and settings.

    CYI fired off messages to the groups telling them they had been "hijacked" and the justification for the attacks. CYI rechristened each group with its name and logo.

    CYI promised to restore the violated groups to their original conditions after it makes its point.

    "Our main goal is to draw attention to questions concerning online privacy awareness," CYI said. "People have even lost their jobs over Facebook content. We wanted to do something about this."

    Facebook said there was no hacking involved and there was no confidential information at risk.

    The groups targeted had been abandoned by their owners, which left doors open for group members to make themselves administrators.

    "Group administrators have no access to private user information and group members can leave a group at any time," Facebook said.

    "In the rare instances when we find that a group has been changed inappropriately, we will disable the group, which is the action we plan for these groups."

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    Cyber-criminals targeting social networks: experts

    By Virginie Grognou - July 30, 2009

    VALENCIA, Spain (AFP) - - Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites are inceasingly being targeted by cyber-criminals drawn to the wealth of personal information supplied by users, experts warn.

    Data posted on the sites -- name, date of birth, address, job details, email and phone numbers -- is a windfall for hackers, participants at Campus Party, one of the world's biggest gatherings of Internet enthusiasts, said.
    A vicious virus Koobface -- "koob" being "book" in reverse -- has affected thousands Facebook and Twitter users since August 2008, said Asier Martinez, a security specialist at global IT solutions provider Panda Security.

    "Its spread has been very significant and it has been detected in 4,000 different variants," he told AFP at the week-long event which wraps up Sunday in Valencia in eastern Spain.

    The virus hijacks the accounts of social networking site users and sends messages steering friends to hostile sites coontaining malware, a malicious software often designed to infiltrate a computer system for illicit purposes.
    In one of its variants, Koobface sends the victim a warning that its Flash player is outdated along with an invitation to download a new version, which is is in fact the virus.

    Malware can be used to steal bank account data or credit card information once installed on a personal computer.

    Facebook has sought to resist attacks by Koobface and similar viruses by blocking links to hostile sites and shutting down accounts from users that show signs of infection, such as sending too many messages.

    "You also must be very careful with people who ask to join your friends list," said Laura Garcia, who writes a popular blog about Internet security, adding that hackers often send requests.

    Another danger of social networking sites are the popular quizzes, horoscopes and games made available for free to users which can sometimes be used to hide links to hostile sites, she added.

    Birthday greetings and as well as messages sent at Christmas and other holidays may also appear to come from friends when in fact they are linked directly to sites that try to convince would-be victims to reveal personal information like passwords or bank numbers, said Martinez.

    The vulnerability of social networking sites was underscored in a study by security company Sophos made public earlier this month.

    It found that about half of all companies in the United States block some or all access to them due to concerns about cyber incursions via the sites.
    Facebook says that less than one percent of its users have been affected by a security issue, such as a virus, since the site opened in 2004.
    Garcia said the number of viruses detected in recent years has exploded while the profile of cyber-criminals has changed.

    "Before it was very savvy teenagers who wanted to show off their computer skills. Now you don't really need to know much about information technology to be a hacker, all the tools have already been created," she said.

    Real cyber-crime mafias have now taken over, especially in Russia, China Brazil and the Ukraine whose goals are purely economic gain, she said, underscoring that hacking could be highly lucrative.

    For an initial investment of $1,500 dollars (1,050 euros) for Mpack, a programme created to infect web pages, hackers can obtain a profit of between $21,000 and $847,000 dollars in just one month, Martinez said.
    Around 6,000 people are expected to attend the Campus Party, which unites participants from all over the world to share ideas, experiences and all types of activities related to computers, communications and new technology.

    The annual event began in Spain in 1997. Editions of the event have since been held in Brazil and Colombia.

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    How Safe Are You on Facebook?

    By IOL Health & Science Staff

    One of the most popular applications on Facebook was revived after being shut down over a week ago. The Top Friends application, which has more than 1 million active users according to the application's statistics, was taken down as a result of privacy violations. The application allowed people to view partial profiles of anyone else on Facebook exposing personal information such as birth date and relationship status.

    This latest incident, again, brings up the issue of privacy risks posed by the popular social-networking site. By personalizing your page with small software programs known as widgets or applications, you could be inadvertently giving out your personal information to the software developers, who could then use this information to harm or at the very least irritate users.

    Since Facebook began allowing outside developers to create these downloadable mini programs about a year ago, around 24,000 applications have been developed. More than 95 percent of Facebook users have at least one of these applications installed.

    Did you ever consider the privacy risks involved in adding those widgets to your Facebook account? Do you think that developers can abuse your personal information, or are there benefits to this that makes it a risk worth taking?

    For those (especially women) who want to protect their private information and pictures, should think hard about what is shown below.

    Below is a permission access page for adding an application on a facebook account. Whenever you add any application/game/poll on your facebook account then you are prompted to give permission. You give permission to the third party to use any information about you on your account and your pictures as they see fit, not only that but whenever you give permission you also give permission for them to use anything from everyone of your friends on your account. Even if you do not give permission or add such applications, your information and pictures are still available for them to use because of your friends giving permission for these applications.

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    No such thing as "deleted" on the Internet

    May 21, 2009

    It's always fun to write about research that you can actually try out for yourself.

    Try this: Take a photo and upload it to Facebook, then after a day or so, note what the URL to the picture is (the actual photo, not the page on which the photo resides), and then delete it. Come back a month later and see if the link works. Chances are: It will.

    Facebook isn't alone here. Researchers at Cambridge University (so you know this is legit, people!) have found that nearly half of the social networking sites don't immediately delete pictures when a user requests they be removed. In general, photo-centric websites like Flickr were found to be better at quickly removing deleted photos upon request.

    Why do "deleted" photos stick around so long? The problem relates to the way data is stored on large websites: While your personal computer only keeps one copy of a file, large-scale services like Facebook rely on what are called content delivery networks to manage data and distribution. It's a complex system wherein data is copied to multiple intermediate devices, usually to speed up access to files when millions of people are trying to access the service simultaneously. (Yahoo! Tech is served by dozens of servers, for example.) But because changes aren't reflected across the CDN immediately, ghost copies of files tend to linger for days or weeks.

    In the case of Facebook, the company says data may hang around until the URL in question is reused, which is usually "after a short period of time." Though obviously that time can vary considerably.

    Of course, once a photo escapes from the walled garden of a social network like Facebook, the chances of deleting it permanently fall even further. Google's caching system is remarkably efficient at archiving copies of web content, long after it's removed from the web. Anyone who's ever used Google Image Search can likely tell you a story about clicking on a thumbnail image, only to find that the image has been deleted from the website in question -- yet the thumbnail remains on Google for months. And then there are services like the Wayback Machine, which copy entire websites for posterity, archiving data and pictures forever.

    The lesson: Those drunken party photos you don't want people to see? Simply don't upload them to the web, ever, because trying to delete them after you sober up is a tough proposition.


    If they are deleted off the site after some time. They are still saved on the company's server as part of the back up (usually done daily).

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    Obama advises caution in what kids put on Facebook

    ...Upon arrival at the school, Obama's motorcade was greeted by a small band of protesters. One carried a sign exclaiming: "Mr. President, stay away from our kids."

    Obama didn't mention the uproar.

    He preceded his broad-scale talk by meeting with about 40 Wakefield students in a school library, where at one point he advised them to "be careful what you post on Facebook. Whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life."...

    How do I permanently delete my account?

    If you deactivate your account from the "Deactivate Account" section on the Account page, your profile and all information associated with it are immediately made inaccessible to other Facebook users. What this means is that you effectively disappear from the Facebook service. However, if you want to reactivate at some point, we do save your profile information (friends, photos, interests, etc.), and your account will look just the way it did when you deactivated if you decide to reactivate it. Many users deactivate their accounts for temporary reasons and expect their information to be there when they return to the service.

    If you do not think you will use Facebook again and would like your account deleted, please keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added.
    If you would like your account permanently deleted with no option for recovery, log in to your account and then submit your request by clicking here.

    If you are currently unable to access your account, you will need to reset your password in order to log in. In order to do so, click the "Forgot your password?" link that appears above the field where you would normally enter your password. Once you’ve followed the instructions to reset your password and can log in, you can deactivate or delete your account using the steps outlined above.

    Voluntary surveillance

    When Alexander Solzhenitsyn was arrested by Stalin's political police, his captors got lost.

    Solzhenitsyn, a war hero (Stalin distrusted and hated war heroes), showed them how to read the map and get to where they were going.

    That's what millions of Americans are doing now.

    Putting far more personal information that they should about themselves online for easy mining.


    Facebook claims over 100,000,000 access their accounts every day.

    Last edited by islamirama; Mar-14-2018 at 04:52 PM.

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    "Reputation is character minus what you've been caught doing."
    - Michael Iapoce

    What Happens Online Stays Online

    By Suzanne Richardson

    You finish a fantastic book, and post a review of it on Amazon...

    Your favorite blogger posts a blog entry that you disagree with, so you write a rebuttal in the comments section...

    You send in a glowing note of thanks for a product you bought, and the company (with your permission) publishes it in their online newsletter...

    You get terrible service at a new restaurant downtown, so you add a scathing description of the snooty waiters and bland food to CitySearch...

    Your old college roommate hosts a huge birthday bash, and you rave about how drunk you got on your MySpace page...

    There's practically no end to the ways you can publish your opinions online.

    And that's great. It means that you can start a blog or an e-newsletter, and quickly position yourself as an expert in anything... from marketing to tropical fish to grammar and more.

    But before you fire up the Internet and start posting away... take a second to reconsider.

    The thing you have to remember is this: The Internet may be a palimpsest of conversation, information, advice, and junk. It may be protean and malleable. But it is also pretty permanent.

    When you put things on the Internet, they're there for good. And if you don't think through what you're posting, it might turn up years - even decades - later to haunt you. Plus, the Internet makes it easy for users to search through its billions of Web pages. (Some estimates, according to SitePro News, say that there were already 200 billion Web pages in 2006.)

    Face it, you're not as anonymous online as you think!

    That means you can post some sexy pictures of yourself online for your long-distance college boyfriend... and find your employees giggling over them in the break room 10 years later.

    Or you could get really fired up about the upcoming election and lambaste some of your opponents in a forum... and a potential boss could decide you're too much of a loose cannon to work in her company.

    MaryEllen Tribby, ETR's Publisher and CEO, regularly performs Google searches on all her prospective employees. She checks MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, and the other social networking sites. And she carefully monitors what other people in the world are saying about people she works with.

    If you wanted to work for ETR and you had a MySpace profile full of provocative pictures... lewd conversation... and tales of your drunken escapades... you can be pretty sure that MaryEllen would put your resume in the circular file.

    Maybe you're not concerned about your online reputation. If that's the case, you're not alone. A 2007 PEW/Internet and American Life Project survey found that 60 percent of Internet users aren't worried about how much of their personal information is available online. And 61 percent of adult Internet users don't feel the need to limit the amount of personal information that others can find about them online.

    So you might think that I'm being overcautious. "Hey Suzanne, there's a delete key on my computer," you might say. "I can put whatever I want online. I can always erase it later." But it's not as easy as that.

    Take, for instance, a good-intentioned ETR reader who sent us a thoughtful e-mail about one of our products. We asked for permission to print her e-mail - with her full name - in an issue of Early to Rise. She graciously gave it.

    A few weeks later, she sent us a frustrated e-mail. When she Googled her name, it was coming up in the search results next to the title of another article in that ETR issue. And the title referenced something that this woman was avidly against. The way the search results showed up, there was an implied link between her and the subject matter she opposed.

    We understood her frustration. And so we changed her name in the article archived on our site to eliminate that implied link. A few weeks later, Google had re-indexed our site, and her real name no longer appeared in conjunction with the title of the offending article.

    But even though we can make small changes to the articles in our archives, we can't change anything about the ETR issues we've e-mailed out to our nearly 400,000 subscribers. So on hundreds of thousands of e-mails, her name is indelibly linked to the subject matter she wants nothing to do with.

    And, of course, her words - if not her name - are still online in our archives... and they're not going anywhere. (By the way, we encourage readers to submit their comments. And we are always happy to use a pseudonym if you'd prefer that your remarks remain anonymous.)

    Deleting your profiles from online networking sites isn't foolproof either. According to The New York Times, "Facebook servers keep copies of the information in those accounts indefinitely." It took one man about two months to finally get his information removed from Facebook. But even after it was deleted, a reporter was able to access his empty profile and send him an e-mail.

    The real key to maintaining your image online is to think about what you post BEFORE you post it.

    I'm not saying that you should never post anything online. But keep in mind that just because it's easy to post something doesn't mean it's easy to remove it.

    Your reputation is at stake.

    And when you go to work for a company... or own your own business... your reputation becomes inextricably connected to that of the business. Which means the reputation of the business is at stake too.

    So whenever you're tempted to submit a comment anywhere online, ask yourself these five questions first:

    1. "Would I be okay with my grandmother/little brother/boss reading this?"
    2. "Will I feel the same way about this a week from now? A month from now? A year from now?"
    3. "Would I be proud to repeat this comment out loud to my friends, family, and coworkers?"
    4. "Could this detract from my future credibility in any way?"
    5. "Would my company's customers be offended/miffed/revolted by this?"

    If you do end up making an offensive comment on your blog... or starring in an embarrassing YouTube video... or posting something that reflects badly on your business, own up to it. Being forthright and honest about your mistakes will go a long way toward healing any wounds you've inflicted on your reputation.

    You can also keep track of your online reputation by doing what your boss, potential employers, or customers may be doing: Googling your name regularly. If unflattering results pop up, take steps to remove them (as best you can) from the Web.

    [Ed. Note: The Internet is a massive entity. And there are some things about it that we're just beginning to understand. Maintaining your online reputation is one thing you need to keep in mind.

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    What Happens to Your Facebook Profile When You Die?

    By Dan FletcherWed Oct 28, 2009

    In an Oct. 26 blog post, Max Kelly, Facebook's head of security, announced the company's policy of "memorializing" profiles of users who have died, taking them out of the public search results, sealing them from any future log-in attempts and leaving the wall open for family and friends to pay their respects. Though most media reports claimed this was a new Facebook feature, a spokeswoman for the company told TIME that it's an option the site has had since its early days.

    The company decided to publicize the policy because of a backlash caused by a new version of the site's homepage that was rolled out on Oct. 23, which includes automatically generated "suggestions" of people to "reconnect" with. Within days of the launch, Twitter users and bloggers from across the Web complained that some of these suggestions were for friends who had died. "Would that I could," complained a user on Twitter before ending her tweet with the hash tag #MassiveFacebookFail.

    "We understand how difficult it can be for people to be reminded of those who are no longer with them, which is why it's important when someone passes away that their friends or family contact Facebook to request that a profile be memorialized," Kelly said in the post. To discourage pranksters, Facebook does require proof before sending a profile down the digital river Styx. Family or friends must fill out a form, providing a link to an obituary or other information confirming a user's death, before the profile is officially memorialized. Once that is completed, the user will cease showing up in Facebook's suggestions, and information like status updates won't show up in Facebook's news feed, the stream of real-time user updates that is the site's centerpiece. If relatives prefer not to have the profile stand as an online memorial, Facebook says it will remove the account altogether.

    Better publicizing memorialized profiles is an attempt by Facebook to answer lingering privacy concerns. Canadian privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart investigated the company in July and issued a report that asked Facebook to explain certain areas of its privacy policy, including policies regarding the profiles of deceased users. In response, the company promised to issue a new privacy policy that better articulates how user information is treated postmortem and offered the commissioner an outline of its memorializing policy, nearly three months before the blog post explained it to users. Spokeswoman Anne-Marie Hayden says the privacy commissioner was "quite pleased" with Facebook's response to the office's concerns and says the commissioner will review the detailed version of the site's new policy, expected in late October.

    Facebook's attempt to clearly state its policy is prudent, as other social-networking sites have struggled with the question of users' deaths. MySpace in particular has had a difficult time with digital rubbernecking — during the site's heyday, a handful of well-trafficked blogs specialized in matching MySpace profiles directly to obituaries and posting the pairings online for all to see. By sealing profiles to family and friends and removing profiles from search results, Facebook assuages users' fears that they'll be fodder for online voyeurs in the event of their untimely demise — hopefully putting the issue to rest.

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    Trapped girls updated Facebook instead of calling police

    By Bonnie Malkin in Sydney - 08 Sep 2009

    Police in Australia have voiced their concern about the growing use of social networking sites after two young girls who were trapped in a drainage well system updated their Facebook profiles instead of calling the emergency services for help.

    The girls, aged 10 and 12, used their mobile phones to access the popular website and update their statuses, alerting friends and family that they were lost in a storm drain in Adelaide's southern suburbs. Their exact status updates have not been released.

    The girls were rescued at about 7.30pm on Sunday night after a friend, who was online at the time, decided to call the police. Ambulance crews were sent to the scene but the girls were not injured and did not require treatment.

    Glenn Benham, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) in Adelaide, said it was lucky that someone had seen their status update and realised that it was not a joke. Storm drains are prone to flash flooding and are very dangerous, the fire service has warned.

    "It is a worry for us because it causes a delay on us being able to rescue the girls," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

    "If they were able to access Facebook from their mobile phones, they could have called 000 [the Australian equivalent of 999], so the point being they could have called us directly and we could have got there quicker than relying on someone being online and replying to them and eventually having to call us via 000 anyway."

    Terry Flew, Professor of Media and Communications at the Queensland University of Technology, said Facebook and sites like it had become the first port of call for young people who wanted to get their message – no matter how serious – out into the public realm.

    "For these kids, by the sounds of it, being on Facebook is just such a pervasive part of their lives that it seems the first line of response if they need to communicate a message to others.

    "I guess for these people the natural way to send a message out to their friends and others is via Facebook, unfortunately in this case the message was that they were stuck in a stormwater drain."

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    Stop Being a Narcissist -- It's Time to Quit Facebook
    By Carmen Joy King, Adbusters. Posted October 13, 2008

    In the end, what does all this online, arms-length self-promotion ultimately provide?

    In march, at the peak of Facebook popularity, I quit. with four swift clicks of the mouse, I canceled my account. Gone was the entire online persona I had created for myself -- profile pictures, interests and activities, work history, friends acquired -- all carefully thought out to showcase to the world the very best version of me, all now deleted.

    Ironically, the decision to destroy my carefully built-up virtual image came as a result of wanting to enhance my profile. All that particular week I'd been hungry for new quotes on my page, something to reflect the week I'd been having: something introspective. I perused a quotes website and found this one attributed to Aristotle:

    "We are what we repeatedly do."

    I became despondent. What, then, was I? If my time was spent changing my profile picture on Facebook, thinking of a clever status update for Facebook, checking my profile again to see if anyone had commented on my page, Is this what I am? A person who re-visits her own thoughts and images for hours each day? And so what do I amount to? An egotist? A voyeur?

    Whatever the label, I was unhappy and feeling empty. The amount of time I spent on Facebook had pushed me into an existential crisis. It wasn't the time-wasting, per se, that bothered me. It was the nature of the obsession -- namely self-obsession. Enough was enough. I left Facebook.

    In the past, my feelings toward Facebook and similar social networking sites had swung between a genuine sense of connection and community to the uncomfortable awareness that what all of our blogs, online journals and personal profiles really amounted to was serious narcissism. As my feelings of over-exposure continued to mount, the obvious solution would have been to set limits on my Facebook time -- yet I still found myself sucked in for longer periods every time I visited. In part, it was the hundreds of little links to and hints about other people's lives that kept me coming back. But even more addicting were the never-ending possibilities to introduce, enhance and reveal more of myself.

    The baby-boomers were at one time thought to be the most self-absorbed generation in American history and carried the label of the Me Generation. In recent years this title has been appropriated, twisted and reassigned to the babies of those same boomers -- born in the 80s and 90s -- now called Generation Me or the Look at Me Generation. Author Jean Twenge, an Associate Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and herself a member of Generation Me -- spent ten years doing research on this group's sense of entitlement and self-absorption. She attributed it to the radical individualism that was engendered by baby-boomer parents and educators focused on instilling self-esteem in children beginning in the 1970s. American and Canadian youth were raised on aphorisms such as "express yourself" and "just be yourself."

    To further illustrate her point, Twenge also found a large increase in self-reference words like "I," "me," "mine" and "myself" in news stories published in the 80s and 90s. These words replaced collective words such as "we," "us," "humanity," "country" or "crowd" found in the stories of a similar nature in the 50s and 60s. This generation might be the least thoughtful, community-oriented and conscientious one in North American history.

    In the end, what does all this online, arms-length self-promotion ultimately provide? Perhaps it's merely one component of the pursuit to alleviate some of the blackness encountered in the existential vacuum of modern life. As Schopenhauer once projected, modern humans may be doomed to eternally vacillate between distress and boredom. For the vast majority of people experiencing the fragmented, fast-paced modern world of 2008, a Sunday pause at the end of a hectic week may cause them to become all too aware of the lack of content in their lives. So we update our online profiles and tell ourselves that we are reaching out.

    And yet, the time we waste on Facebook only makes our search for comfort and community more elusive. Online networking sites are marketed as facilitators of community-orientation but when I think about the millions of people -- myself included -- who spend large portions of their waking lives feeding off an exchange of thousands of computerized, fragmented images, it doesn't add up to community-engagement. These images have no meaning beyond "I look pretty from this angle" or "I'm wasted" or "look who my new boyfriend is." And as we continue to chase even harder -- accessing Facebook at work, uploading images from our cell phones -- we spend our money on constantly upgraded electronic gadgets marketed to our tendency to self-obsess and present particularly uninteresting and repetitive images of ourselves. There's got to be more than this.

    And so I quit.

    After I left Facebook, I wondered what all my friends, family and acquaintances were going to think when they noticed I'd disappeared off the Facebook earth. So some of my Facebook narcissism -- am I being noticed, am I being missed -- remains. But I'm also asking myself some new questions. How do I find balance between my online life and my "real" life? How much exposure is healthy? How do I act responsibly for myself and engage with those I love? These are still "me" thoughts but they feel different than before. As I sit here, keyboard under palm, eyes on screen, I try to remind myself that my hands and eyes need to venture out into the community and look and touch the truly tangible that lies just beyond that other big screen: my window.

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    To Deal With Obsession, Some Defriend Facebook

    By KATIE HAFNER - December 20, 2009

    Facebook, the popular networking site, has 350 million members worldwide who, collectively, spend 10 billion minutes there every day, checking in with friends, writing on people’s electronic walls, clicking through photos and generally keeping pace with the drift of their social world.

    Make that 9.9 billion and change. Recently, Halley Lamberson, 17, and Monica Reed, 16, juniors at San Francisco University High
    School, made a pact to help each other resist the lure of the login. Their status might as well now read, “I can’t be bothered.”

    We decided we spent way too much time obsessing over Facebook and it would be better if we took a break from it,” Halley said.

    By mutual agreement, the two friends now allow themselves to log on to Facebook on the first Saturday of every month — and only on that day.

    The two are among the many teenagers, especially girls, who are recognizing the huge distraction Facebook presentsthe hours it consumes every day, to say nothing of the toll it takes during finals and college applications, according to parents, teachers and the students themselves.

    Some teenagers, like Monica and Halley, form a support group to enforce their Facebook hiatus. Others deactivate their accounts. Still others ask someone they trust to change their password and keep control of it until they feel ready to have it back.

    Facebook will not reveal how many users have deactivated service, but Kimberly Young, a psychologist who is the director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery in Bradford, Pa., said she had spoken with dozens of teenagers trying to break the Facebook habit.

    “It’s like any other addiction,” Dr. Young said. “It’s hard to wean yourself.”
    Dr. Young said she admired teenagers who came up with their own strategies for taking Facebook breaks in the absence of computer-addiction programs aimed at them.

    “A lot of them are finding their own balance,” she said. “It’s like an eating disorder. You can’t eliminate food. You just have to make better choices about what you eat.” She added, “And what you do online.”

    Michael Diamonti, head of school at San Francisco University High School, which Monica and Halley attend, said administrators were pondering what the school’s role should be, since students used Facebook mostly at home, although excessive use could affect their grades.

    “It’s such uncharted territory,” Dr. Diamonti said. “I’m definitely in support of these kids recognizing that they need to exercise some control over their use of Facebook, that not only is it tremendously time consuming but perhaps not all that fulfilling.”

    In October, Facebook reached 54.7 percent of people in the United States ages 12 to 17, up from 28.3 percent in October last year, according to the Nielsen Company, the market research firm.

    Many high school seniors, now in the thick of the college application process, are acutely aware of those hours spent clicking one link after another on the site.

    Gaby Lee, 17, a senior at Head-Royce School in Oakland, Calif., had two weeks to complete her early decision application to Pomona College.
    Desperate, she deactivated her Facebook account.

    The account still existed, but it looked to others as if it did not.

    “No one could go on and write on my wall or look at my profile,” she said.
    The habit did not die easily. Gaby said she would sit down at the computer and find that “my fingers would automatically go to Facebook.”

    In her coming book, “Alone Together” (Basic Books, 2010), Sherry Turkle, a psychologist who is director of the Initiative on Technology and Self at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discusses teenagers who take breaks from Facebook.

    For one 18-year-old boy completing a college application, Professor Turkle said, “Facebook wasn’t merely a distraction, but it was really confusing him about who he was,” and he opted to spend his senior year off the service. He was burned out, she said, trying to live up to his own descriptions of himself.

    But Facebook does not make it easy to leave for long. Deactivating an account requires checking off one of six reasons — “I spend too much time using Facebook,” is one. “This is temporary. I’ll be back,” is another. And it is easy to reactivate an account by entering the old login and password.

    For Walter Mischel, a professor of psychology at Columbia University, who studies self-control and willpower, “what’s fascinating about this is that it involves spontaneous strategies of self-control, of trying to exert willpower after getting sucked into a huge temptation.”

    Professor Mischel performed a now-famous set of experiments at Stanford University in the late 1960s in which he tested young children’s ability to delay gratification when presented with what he called “hot” temptations, like marshmallows.

    Some managed to stop themselves; others could not.

    “Facebook is the marshmallow for these teenagers,” Professor Mischel said.
    Rachel Simmons, an educator and the author of “The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence” (Penguin Press, 2009), said Facebook’s new live feed format had made the site particularly difficult to tear oneself away from.

    “You’re getting a feed of everything everyone is doing and saying,” Ms. Simmons said. “You’re literally watching the social landscape on the screen, and if you’re obsessed with your position in that landscape, it’s very hard to look away.”

    It is that addictive quality that makes having a partner who knows you well especially helpful. Monica said that when she was recently in bed sick for several days, she broke down and went on Facebook. And, of course, she felt guilty.

    “At first I lied,” Monica said. “But we’re such good friends she could read my facial expression, so I ’fessed up.”

    As punishment, the one who breaks the pact has to write something embarrassing on a near-stranger’s Facebook wall.

    After several failed efforts at self-regulation, Neeka Salmasi, 15, a sophomore at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, Mich., finally asked her sister, Negin, 25, to change her Facebook password every Sunday night and give it back to her the following Friday night.

    Neeka quickly saw an improvement in her grades.

    Still better, she said, is that her mother no longer visits her room “every half an hour to see if I was on Facebook or doing homework.”
    “It was really annoying,” she said.

    Last year, Magellan Yadao, 18, a senior at Northside College Preparatory High School in Chicago, went on a 40-day Facebook fast for Lent.

    “In my years as a Catholic, I hadn’t really chosen something to give up that was very important to me,” Magellan said in an e-mail message. “Apparently, Facebook was just that.”

    In his follow-up work, Professor Mischel said he found that some of the children who delayed gratification with the marshmallows turned out to be higher achievers as adults.

    Halley said she and Monica expect their hiatus to continue at least through the rest of the school year. She added that they were enjoying a social life lived largely offline.

    “Actually, I don’t think either one of us wants it to end,” she said.



    Mom sues teens over fake Facebook profile of her son

    September 25th, 2009

    Ah, wasn’t it much simpler when kids just spread outrageous lies about each other through bathroom graffiti?

    Instead, four teens allegedly created a Facebook profile for Laura Cook’s son. The page, which featured the teen’s name, photo and cell phone number, claimed that the boy was having sex with other boys and made racist remarks, including one about President Barack Obama. The fake profile might have been nasty and crude, but it was popular, quickly collecting at least 580 online friends.

    The page has since been taken down, but Cook, a Chicago-area mom, isn’t satisfied. She filed a lawsuit this week in a county circuit court, claiming that her son was defamed and his reputation damaged, the Chicago Tribune reported.

    The lawsuit lists the teen defendants only by their initials, R.C., A.G., K.Z., and M.S. Cook is asking for unspecified damages.


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    Facebook CEO Zuckerberg causes stir over privacy

    One privacy advocate contends Facebook is pushing users to expect less privacy (see video, below)

    By Sharon Gaudin
    January 11, 2010 05:28 PM ET

    Computerworld - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's contention last week that privacy is becoming less important to online users caused a stir across the Internet and among privacy advocates.

    Zuckerberg told an audience at the 2009 Crunchies Awards ceremonies in San Francisco on Friday that social norms are changing and people don't expect or want nearly as much privacy as they have in the past.

    "When we got started, the question people asked was, 'Why would I want to put any information on the Internet?'," he said during the presentation of awards to top online startups and makers of innovative technology.

    "In the last five or six years, blogging has taken off in a huge way. People have really gotten comfortable sharing more information and different kinds but more openly and with more people," Zuckerberg added.

    Zuckerberg went on to say that Facebook has been changing its privacy structure to conform to users' changing preferences. "We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and updating our system to reflect what the current social norms are," he said.

    The blogosphere and industry pundits today were lit up with stories about criticizing Zuckerberg's statements on online privacy.

    Facebook contends Zuckerberg's statements were blown out of proportion and were "mischaracterized" and "sensationalized" by some pundits.

    "He observed that social norms on the Internet are changing and that Facebook is responding, including by offering people more and better tools to decide what to share and with whom," wrote a Facebook spokesperson in an e-mail to Computerworld. "Clearly, people are sharing much more information far more broadly than ever before through blogs, comments on stories, Facebook, Twitter and many other services. A core part of Facebook's mission has always been to deliver the tools that empower people with control over their information."

    Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Computerworld that he was surprised and concerned about Zuckerberg's statements, especially since Facebook itself has been helping to erode the sense of privacy of its users.

    "I think it's rather disingenuous [to talk about how social norms are changing] rather than take responsibility for how Facebook's actions shape social norms,"
    said Bankston. "Facebook is pushing those social norms in a direction more profitable for Facebook."


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    Want privacy on Facebook? Here is how to get some

    December 17, 2009

    Over the past week, Facebook has been nudging its users - first gently, then firmly - to review and update their privacy settings.

    You may have procrastinated by hitting "skip for now," but Facebook eventually took away that button and forced you to update your settings before continuing to use the site.

    After finally accepting Facebook's recommendations or tweaking the privacy settings yourself, though, you might have made more information about you public than what you had intended.

    At the same time, Facebook has given users many granular controls over their privacy, more than what's available on other major social networks.
    So if you want to stay out of people's view, but still want to be on Facebook, here are some things to look out for as you take another look at your settings.

    1. Some of your information is viewable by everyone.

    Everyone can see your name, your profile photo and the names of work and school networks you're part of. Ditto for pages you are a fan of. If you are worried about a potential employer finding out about a quirky fetish or unorthodox political leaning, avoid becoming a Facebook fan of such groups. You can't tell Facebook you don't want those publicly listed. Your gender and current city are also available, if you choose to specify them. You can uncheck "Show my sex in my profile" when you edit your profile if you don't want it listed, and you can leave "Current City" blank.

    2. Your list of friends may also be public.

    Facebook also considers your friends list publicly available information. Privacy advocates worry that much can be gleaned from a person's list of friends - even sexual orientation, according to one MIT study. But there is a way to hide the list. Go to your profile page and click on the little blue pencil icon on the top right of your box of friends. Uncheck "Show Friend List to everyone." Either way, those you are already friends with can always see your full list.

    3. You can hide yourself from Web searches.

    There is a section for "Search" under Facebook's privacy settings page, which is accessible from the top right corner of the Web site under "Settings." If you click the "Allow" box next to "Public Search Results," the information that Facebook deems publicly available (such as photo, fan pages and list of friends), along with anything else you have made available to everyone, will show up when someone looks up your name on a search engine such as Google. The stuff you've limited access to in your profile will not show up.

    This is useful if you want people you've lost touch with, or potential work contacts, to be able to find your Facebook page. If you'd rather not be found, uncheck this box.

    A second setting, controlling searches within Facebook, lets you refine who can find you once that person has logged on. Limit searches to friends only if you think you have all the friends you need and don't want anyone to find you when they type in your name to Facebook.

    4. Beware of third-party applications.

    Quizzes and games are fun, but each time you take one, you first authorize it to access your profile information, even if you have made that available only to your friends. You're also letting the app access some information on your friends.

    Under "Application Settings," Facebook lists all the apps you have opened your profile up to. If you no longer want to authorize access to "Which Golden Girl Are You?" you can always remove it by clicking on the "X" next to its name. Apps you use regularly, such as Facebook for Android if you update your status from your mobile phone, should stay.

    Next, by clicking on "Applications and Websites" on the privacy settings page, you can edit whether your friends can share your birthday, photos and other specific information. Remember that applications can access your "publicly available information" no matter what.

    The security firm Sophos recommends users set their privacy settings for two of Facebook's own popular applications, notes and photos, to friends only.

    5. Go over your list of friends.

    The average Facebook user has 130 friends. But many people interact with a much smaller group when commenting on status updates, photos and links. So it doesn't hurt to occasionally review your list of your friends to get an idea of just who can view your status posts, vacation photos and funny links you've shared over the years. Don't feel obligated to add anyone as a friend, even if that person adds you first. For professional acquaintance you don't want to snub, send them to a LinkedIn profile you can set up. Some workplaces and schools have rules about Facebook interactions between bosses and employees or students and teachers.

    6. Create custom friends groups.

    If you have friended a lot of people, sort them. Think of the groups you interact with in real life - co-workers, college buddies, girlfriends, grandma and grandpa - and organize your Facebook friends in these groups, too. Go to "All Friends" under the "Friends" button up top, click on "Create New List" and fire away. Then decide what aspects of your profile, and which status posts and photos, these people will have access to. Or, simply create a "limited" list for acquaintances or distant relatives and limit their access.

    7. Customize your status posts.

    Type "I'm hungry" into your status update box. Click on the little lock icon. You'll see a range of privacy controls pop up, letting you either allow or limit access to the post. If you want, you can even hide it from everyone by clicking "Only Me" under the custom settings. Click on "Save Setting." Repeat with each post, or create a default setting for most updates and increase or decrease privacy as you see fit.

    8. Let your friends know you have boundaries - in person.

    Many of us have woken up on a Sunday morning to find that an overzealous friend has posted dozens of photos from that wild party we barely remembered - the good, the bad and the hideous. Chances are, they didn't do this to embarrass you, though if they did you have bigger problems. Rather, they probably don't know that you don't want these photos posted. Sure, tweak your photo privacy settings on Facebook. But if someone starts snapping pictures of you at a party, ask them to check with you before posting it anywhere.

    9. Never assume complete privacy.

    Even for the most tech-savvy person, unflattering photos, incriminating text messages or angry status posts about work have a way of worming their way out in the open. Just saying.

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    Data mining and social networks

    Story by Mark Whitehorn, 28-07-2009

    At what point does our data become information that belongs to the social networking site we've placed it on?

    Last month I tried to convince you that for the first time in history it is possible to analyse in great detail how people interact socially. The Facebooks and Bebos of this world are essentially large databases that record how people interact, so they are eminently amenable to analysis in manifold ways. As an example, it is possible to identify individuals or classes of individual who have significantly more influence on their peers than normal. Such people are clearly a much more cost effective target for advertisers than average members of the general public.

    There are many other examples so it is clear that the social networking sites are goldmines ripe for data mining (or perhaps datamines ripe for gold mining.) However, of course, this couldn’t ever happen in practice - could it? Surely there are all sorts of protections in place and the social networking sites are not able to sell the data they hold… are they?

    Sadly this is already the source of considerable controversy. In late 2007 Facebook proudly announced Beacon to the world. Beacon essentially tracked a member’s purchases on other sites and pushed that information to friends of the member. Within a month Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s Founder and CEO) had to issue an apology and since then the company has been dogged by concerns about how it is using data.

    From my point of view (as one who is not so interested in privacy as in the relationship between data and information) the concerns expressed so far seem to have skirted a more fundamental issue. At what point does our data become information that belongs to the social networking site?

    Consider a generic Social Networking Site called SNS. It runs a data mining algorithm on its database and uncovers the fascinating information that males who:
    • are 25 years old
    • earn more than £30K
    • party more than once a month
    • have fewer than three female friends
    are very, very likely to buy a sports car within three months.

    If SNS supplies this finding (without any personal details) to a car manufacturer has it supplied personal data in breach of confidentiality? I would argue (as a database person, not a barrister) that this information belongs to SNS so there is no breach.

    Now let’s make it slightly more controversial. Suppose SNS does the same but supplies a list of those individuals complete with contact details. In one sense all SNS has done is to filter the list of all its users (say, 100 million) into a list of, say, 5,000. SNS can argue that it has simply used its own information to filter data that is already in the public domain. Or we can argue that our privacy has been violated. I don’t pretend to know how the law would see this, but I do think these are interesting questions.

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    MySpace: 90,000 Sex Offenders Purged From Web Site

    February 04, 2009

    RALEIGH, N.C. — About 90,000 sex offenders have been identified and removed from the social networking Web site MySpace, company and law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

    The number was nearly double what MySpace officials originally estimated last year, said North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who along with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has led efforts to make social networking Web sites safer for young users.

    Cooper said he wasn't surprised by the updated numbers, and demanded that MySpace and rival online networking site Facebook — which claim to have more than 280 million users combined — do more to protect children and teenagers.

    "These sites were created for young people to communicate with each other. Predators are going to troll in these areas where they know children are going to be," Cooper said. "That's why these social networking sites have the responsibility to make their sites safe for children."

    The attorneys general received agreements last year from MySpace and Facebook to push toward making their sites safer.

    Both sites implemented dozens of safeguards, including finding better ways to verify user's ages, banning convicted sex offenders from using the sites and limiting the ability of older users to search members under 18.

    Blumenthal, who received MySpace's updated numbers Tuesday through a subpoena, said the information "provides compelling proof that social networking sites remain rife with sexual predators."

    A preliminary number of sex offenders found on Facebook was "substantial," but he said the company has yet to respond to a recent subpoena.

    MySpace executives said they were confident in the technology they use to find, remove and block registered sex offenders.

    The company uses Sentinel SAFE, a database it created in 2006 with the names, physical descriptions and other identifiable characteristics of sex offenders that cross-references against MySpace members.

    "Sentinel SAFE is the best industry solution to ensure these offenders are removed from social networks," Hemanshu Nigam, the company's chief security officer, said in a statement Tuesday.

    MySpace has more than 130 million active users worldwide.

    A spokesman for Facebook, which claims more than 150 million active users (currrently 350 million), said Tuesday that protecting its users has always been a priority.

    "We have a policy prohibiting registered sex offenders from joining Facebook," said spokesman Barry Schnitt. "We are glad to be able to report that we have not yet had to handle a case of a registered sex offender meeting a minor through Facebook. We are working hard to make sure it never happens."

    Still, Cooper said more should be done.

    "Technology moves forward quickly, and it's important for these companies to stay ahead of the technology," he said. "And they're not moving fast enough for us."

    The push for better restrictions came during a time when social-networking Web sites were seeing exponential growth, with most of it coming in the form of younger users. But along with the younger members came sexual predators who would lie about their age to lure young victims.

    Blumenthal and Cooper, who co-chair the State Attorney General Task Force on Social Networking, have led the charge for tougher restrictions to be placed on who joins online social-networking sites.

    The Internet Safety Technical Task Force report, commissioned by the attorneys general in 2008, researched ways to help squash the onslaught of sexual predators targeting younger social-networking clients.

    Enhancing Child Safety & Online Technologies, a report by the task force submitted to attorneys general in December, noted was no surefire way to guarantee online child safety.

    The task force also played down fears of Internet sexual predators who target children on social-networking sites. While citing other dangers such as online bullying, the panel said cases of predators typically involved youths well aware they were meeting an adult for sexual activities.

    But Cooper said the danger posed by sexual preditors online remains.

    "Our law enforcement officers investigating these cases tell us that predators are soliciting children on the Internet and in social networking sites," Cooper said. "We're working to provide more law enforcement to protect our kids, but social networking sites and technology companies must do their part as well."

    Officials: 29,000 Registered Sex Offenders on MySpace

    July 25, 2007

    RALEIGH, N.C. — MySpace.com has found more than 29,000 registered sex offenders with profiles on the popular social networking Web site — more than four times the number cited by the company two months ago, officials in two states Tuesday.

    North Carolina's Roy Cooper is one of several attorneys general who recently demanded the News Corp. -owned Web site provide data on how many registered sex offenders were using the popular social networking site, along with information about where they live.

    After initially withholding the information, citing federal privacy laws, MySpace began sharing the information in May after the states filed formal legal requests.

    At the time, MySpace said it had already used a database it helped create to remove about 7,000 profiles of sex offenders, out of a total of about 180 million profiles on the site.
    Cooper's office said Tuesday, however, that now the figure has risen past 29,000.

    "I'm absolutely astonished and appalled because the number has grown so exponentially over so short of time with no explanation," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who also had pressed the company earlier for sex offender data.

    MySpace declined to comment on the figure, focusing instead on its efforts to clean up its profile rolls.

    "We're pleased that we've successfully identified and removed registered sex offenders from our site and hope that other social networking sites follow our lead," MySpace chief security officer Hemanshu Nigam said in a prepared statement.

    Cooper is pushing for a state law that would require children to receive parental permission before creating social networking profiles, and require the Web sites to verify the parents' identity and age.

    For example, social networking sites would have to compare information provided by a parent with commercial databases. Sites could also force parents to submit credit cards or printed forms.

    Cooper is working with law enforcement officials in other states in pressuring MySpace to use age and identity verification methods voluntarily.

    Based on media reports, Cooper's office found more than 100 criminal incidents this year of adults using MySpace to prey or attempt to prey on children.

    Most recently, a Virginia man pleaded guilty Monday to kidnapping and soliciting a 14-year old girl he met on MySpace.

    "All we're doing is giving parents the right to make a choice whether their children can go online," Cooper told a state House committee considering the bill on parental involvement and verification.

    He said the measure would lead to "fewer children at risk, because there will be fewer children on those Web sites."

    Advocates for Internet companies and privacy issues testified against the proposed restrictions, saying the broad parental verification standards would be found unconstitutional because they prohibit free speech or impede interstate commerce.

    The experts who testified also said Cooper's idea isn't foolproof, because children could fabricate their parents' information and purported consent.

    The parental verification requirement "makes promises to consumers that cannot be kept. It is dangerous language," said Emily Hackett, executive director of the Washington-based Internet Alliance, whose clients include Time Warner Inc.'s (TWX) AOL, Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) and VeriSign Inc. (VRSN ) "There is no way to eyeball a user."

    The bill has already passed the North Carolina Senate. Now it goes to a House subcommittee for more consideration.

    State Sen. Walter Dalton, a Democrat who is a primary sponsor of the bill, acknowledged that it won't stop all sexual predators from getting on social networking sites. But he said it addresses a problem that shouldn't be ignored, Dalton said.

    "There is obviously a compelling state interest to protect our children from sexual predators," he said.

    Mom, Sex Offender Sentenced in Teen Girl Sex Case

    July 23, 2007

    MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. — A man who had sex with a 14-year-old girl with her mother's permission was sentenced Monday to up to 15 years in prison.

    Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Switalski sentenced 21-year-old Christopher M. Garcia to six to 15 years on each of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Garcia also was sentenced to two to four years for failing to register as a sex offender.

    Sentences for each of the charges will run at the same time.

    Garcia pleaded guilty to the charges June 25.

    The girl is pregnant for a third time and living in foster care. Police said she had two earlier miscarriages.

    Prosecutors say her 35-year-old mother let Garcia have sex with the girl in their home in the Detroit suburb of Utica. Another man, James E. Przeadzki, also had sex with her daughter's 14-year-old friend in the home, authorities say.

    Przeadzki, 21, pleaded guilty June 14 to assault with intent to commit sexual penetration. He was sentenced to nine months in jail and three years' probation.\\

    The girl's mother received two years' probation after pleading guilty May 24 to misdemeanor child abuse.

    Her daughter was 13 when she fled to Indiana last year with another man she met on the popular MySpace.com. She claimed she was 18 in her Internet postings and the man was not charged.


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