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Your Devices Are Whispering – and you can’t hear them

Occasionally, VERY occasionally, I visit the subject of digital freedom and privacy, a topic of interest to we enjoyers of internet carnality.

Today’s post explores the latest variation of tracking – how “they” watch and use our habits and visits and clicks from our email and web site views, and build databases and profiles of us to sell us their stuff.

I wrote before about Locally Shared Objects, (LSOs), also known colloquially as “flash cookies” or “supercookies,” which can remain on a computer even if a user tells his or her browser to delete all
cookies. More on that HERE . And that’s not just on desktops; just for one example, did you know that Verizon’s supercookies (also known as zombiecookies) – a snippet of code injected into mobile users’ web requests — silently identify and track its customers, sharing the information with AOL’s wide-reaching ad network? Continue reading →

Is Facebook Your Pimp?

Unless you choose to do something about it, Facebook is both your peeper and your pimper.

gif of peeping tom watching someone through a peephole

You must know by now that although Facebook is free to use, you – and everything about you, your data – are the product. The pimp bargain is you give yourself to Facebook and Facebook sells you to other people, advertisers in one form or another.

The peeping bargain, which most people forget, is that when they download or sign up for an app or website using their Facebook login, they’re giving those companies a direct look into their Facebook profiles and lots of their personal data. That will usually include not just your email address and phone number, but frequently your current location and much more. And its a permanent peep – more like an always-on webcam than a locker room peephole.

If you’re cool with being pimped out and peeped at in exchange for what you get from Facebook, then its all good. If not, if silly you has some concern about your privacy, you can do two things:

  1. Opt out of being pimped by the ad tracking;
  2. Control who is looking at your naked data: look up the list of app companies that are logged in to your Facebook account and delete them or edit what part of your nakedness they are allowed to see.

Pop the pimp first.

cartoon image of woman slapping man in suit

You can comfort yourself a little bit with the knowledge that the ads being targeted at you are coming anonymously and in bulk, at everyone who is in some way similar to you. They aren’t literally being targeted at you individually, even if it feels that way. If you really don’t like them, you can opt-out of most of them by following the instructions here and here.

If you want to go even further, by limiting the ad cookies that advertisers use to track Facebook users across the rest of the web, follow these instructions here and read this backgrounder here.

Now you are a woman of mystery (the majority of Facebook users are female in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.).

gif of smoke curling out of the lips of a mysterious beautiful woman with her eyes in shadow

Now for the apps. That requires a bit more digging.

Here is the summary of where you need to go in Facebook’s settings to see which apps are plugged in to your account: Settings > Apps > Apps you use > Show All Apps > Edit/delete. A more detailed set of instructions follows:

First go to the settings button on your Facebook page.

Facebook settingsFacebook

Scroll down and click “Settings.”

Facebook settingsFacebook

Inside the settings menu, click on Apps.

Facebook settingsFacebook

This looks like a list of apps that are signed into your account. But pay close attention to the “show all” option at the bottom of the list …

Facebook settingsFacebook

Voila! The list of apps tracking this user is so long you have to make this super zoomed-out view to see them all:

Facebook settingsFacebook

On each app, there is an Edit function and a delete “x” mark. Let’s look at what QuizUp, the hot new trivia mobile game app, knows about this user.

Facebook settingsSettings

QuizUp knows his email, birthday, and current location. Because it’s a mobile app on his phone, it also knows his phone number. But that’s not all …

Facebook settingsFacebook

Click this little “?” symbol on “basic info” and it turns out that QuizUp is getting a bunch more info about him, too, including a list of all his friends and his profile picture!

Facebook settingsFacebook

You can control this information by clicking on the “x” symbol to delete the app’s access to your Facebook account. That might mean the app won’t work, however.

Review each app to either edit its permissions or delete its access to you on Facebook entirely. It’s a bit time-consuming — but otherwise you’re just giving these people a permanent free peephole to watch and record your naked data.


[Article adapted, and enhanced with visuals, by me for my carnal audience, from the original authored by Jim Edwards, at – :]

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Google Will Censor Blogger Blogs

Google to Censor Blogger Blogs on a ‘Per Country Basis’

(Via by David Kravets and The Blog Herald by James Johnson)

Blogger logoGoogle has quietly announced changes to its Blogger free-blogging platform that will enable the blocking of content only in countries where censorship is required.

Twitter announced technology last week addressing the same topic. It said it had acquired the ability to censor tweets in the countries only where it was ordered removed, instead of on an internet-wide basis.

Twitter’s announcement via its blog sparked a huge online backlash. The microblogging service was accused of becoming a censoring agent.

Yet Google’s announcement three weeks ago — buried in a Blogger help page — went unnoticed until it was highlighted by TechDows on Tuesday.

Google wrote Jan. 9 it would begin redirecting Blogger traffic to country-specific URLs, meaning whatever country you’re in, you’ll get that country’s domain for Blogger-hosted blogs.

TechDows reports that this is now happening in India, for example. So when you’re there and click on a Blogger blog, the URL will end .in.

Doing that, Google wrote, means content can be removed “on a per country basis.”

“Migrating to localized domains will allow us to continue promoting free expression and responsible publishing while providing greater flexibility in complying with valid removal requests pursuant to local law,” Google wrote.

By adding country specific URLs Google can censor a blog post in one country but leave it untouched for example in the United States.

In a Blogger blog post titled Why does my blog redirect to a country-specific URL?” Google explains that the program is meant to “limit” censored content:

“Over the coming weeks you might notice that the URL of a blog you’re reading has been redirected to a country-code top level domain, or “ccTLD.” For example, if you’re in Australia and viewing [blogname], you might be redirected [blogname] A ccTLD, when it appears, corresponds with the country of the reader’s current location.”

To see non-affected pages users can go to (no country redirect) which will place a short term cookie in the users browser to prevent country based redirects while allowing a work around against censorship.

Twitter did not announce how its new technology functions, but said Twitter has the ability to remove tweets only in countries where that content was barred.


Now, I am a happy refugee from Blogger – although my departure was not voluntary at the time –  but to all you fellow adult or sex bloggers still hangin’ at Blogger, its time to get a move on. The writing’s on the wall.

If I can help you get started, send me an email through the Contact page and I am more than happy to share the benefit of my travails in starting the blog over, not on Google.

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LinkedIn: Privacy is a Country for Old Farts

[sfwp id=200 img=itemtype.png] Meet [sfwp id=404 img=itemprop.png]Reid Hoffman[sfwp id=2 img=closespan.png], the billionaire founder of LinkedIn.[sfwp id=1 img=closediv.png]In this video, he shares with an audience at Davos at the World Economic Forum, his opinion about your privacy concerns:

This was months ago, but nobody’s talking about it that I can see, so I will.The audio on that clip may be a little hard to hear, but here’s the key comment from the founder of the largest social network for professional people in the world:

 “all these concerns about privacy tend to be old people issues.”

“Old people” issues? Dewd!  And that’s how the founder of LinkedIn feels about your privacy? What’s he – related to Mark Zuckerburg or something?

gif of peeping tom watching someone through a peephole

I'm just watching young people - they don't care

For a social network supposedly for professional people, and with privacy issues especially important in the job search – to say nothing of when the economy is bad, and your company might be looking to cut employees, and you’re trying to make your mortgage… privacy issues aren’t old people issues, they’re normal people issues.

Maybe it’s par for the course that a billionaire founder, speaking at Davos — the world’s most elite  “old boys’ network” event (aren’t most of them old people??), held each year in the Swiss Alps — ridicules our concerns in such a condescending way.

It may be the most arrogant comment from a business executive since Leona Helmsley said “Only the little people pay taxes.”

If you signed up for LinkedIn, they never asked for your permission to sell your information to recruiters and HR departments, did they? They never told you that your actions, and your behaviors, and your privacy were going to be sold off to recruitment firms and HR departments. Even today, their User Agreement makes no mention of executive recruiters or human resources. (I mean, c’mon, if it was all on the up-and-up, they’d mention it to you when you sign up, or at least in the User Agreement or Privacy Policy, wouldn’t they?)

Should you be concerned about the fact that LinkedIn has the legal right to sell your job-hunting information to advertisers, show it in their advertisements, and leak it to your current colleagues or boss, if they want to?

No, you shouldn’t worry about that, at all, says Reid Hoffman, because “all these concerns about privacy tend to be old people issues.”

LinkedIn also this summer drew even more heat over a new form of advertising called  social ads. The ads basically turned LinkedIn users into cheerleaders for businesses. They used individuals’ names and photos to promote products or services that the individuals had recommended or companies they followed.

Here is a good post on how to take command and control of your privacy settings on your LinkedIn profile.

And here is a good post that talks about how LinkedIn has over 120 million users in more than 200 countries (including at least a million lawyers) and Web traffic that ranks it as the 13th most visited site on the planet, with a list of basic do’s and don’ts of creating and building a presence if you want to use LinkedIn.

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