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Facebook's changes to the way it deals with privacy and sharing settings represent a major shift in the type of social networking Facebook is encouraging its users to engage in.
The company has long prided itself on giving users the ability to control who sees what you share on its network and even went so far as to create a privacy regime that many found overly complicated.
When you delete a photo that you had uploaded to a social network, what happens?
You might expect that it's deleted. After all, why would Facebook, for instance, want to store that old photo of you and Aunt Hilda any longer than it has to? Even you don't want that photo.
I'm not one to write incendiary headlines and I'm not exactly partial to the taste of linkbait.
But after reading a few quotes attributed to Google co-founder Larry Page, I couldn't think of another headline so at the risk of going too far, I decided to stick with "Google's Larry Page is crazy".
Facebook is already pretty open. Its developer platform enables developers to build applications that leverage Facebook users' 'social graphs' and its Connect API gives developers the means to 'connect' their websites with Facebook.
But, perhaps in an effort to compete with the service Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg can't have (Twitter), the social network is set to become even more open.
Web proxy servers are not new. These servers, which serve as 'middlemen' for accessing the web, are often used by corporations to accelerate web browsing through caching and to filter traffic. They're also used by individuals looking for a bit of anonymity online.
I often use one since I live in a country that is sometimes blocked from using popular services that are based in the US.
What if you had to receive consent to place a cookie on a user's computer? As an online publisher or digital marketer, you might find it very difficult to operate.
But that's exactly what an amendment that will be voted on in the EU Parliament considers requiring.
While the industry continues to wrestle with the logistics of opting-in to consumer behavioral targeting, a Harvard University researcher has developed a way to opt-out.
Christopher Soghoian, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, told The Harvard Crimson that he has developed a browser extension that prevents advertising networks from tracking internet usage habits. The Google plug-in, entitled Targeted Advertising Cookie Opt-Out (TACO), allows users to opt out of 27 advertising networks.
It's either one more swipe at the 800-pound gorilla, or it's a serious problem brewing for Google. Today a Washington-based advocacy group filed a complaint asking the FTC to review Google's security standards for its cloud computing services. Among those services: Gmail, Docs, and Picasa.
The source of the complaint, and its target, are definitely serious matters. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) wants the trade commission to investigate "the adequacy of the privacy and security safeguards" of Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Picasa. Earlier this month Google had to report a breach of its Docs application, which is one of the reasons EPIC filed with the FTC, it's petition states. Docs has 4.4 million users; Gmail has 26 million.
Google continues to redouble its efforts on its core business - advertising - and on Wednesday launched a beta of what it is calling "interest-based advertising".
Interest-based ads add a new dimension to ads on Google. Unlike ads that are completely contextual, interest-based ads "associate categories of interest...with your browser, based on the types of sites you visit and the pages you view".
Facebook, which now has 190m users and continues its ascent as the world's largest social network, has rolled out a major update.
There are UI changes and new features alike and many are designed to put Facebook into the competition as talk of the 'real-time web' heats up.
They're calling it "interest-based targeting" rather than behavioral, but Google's finally allowing advertisers to target users based on what they've been surfing on the Web. With a twist. The company is handing over both tools and power to consumers who can find out why they're being served the ads they see, and also opt-out of the targeting by segment (if not entirely).
The program's still in beta (and beta at Google can last a long, long time). But once publishers get on board, consumers will have the option of viewing the categories they've been placed in: expectant mother, say, or travel. While they have the option of opting out of the program entirely, they can also opt out on a bucket-by-bucket basis, which may provide incentive for them to stick with the overall program.
Reading the blogosphere today it would be reasonable to think that Barack Obama has nominated Satan to lead the Federal Trade Commission. His name is actually Jon Leibowitz and all the talk about a "day of reckoning" for the online ad business will not be at the top of his agenda.
Leibowitz is a known anti-piracy advocate (good) and an aggressive proponent of regulating online advertising (maybe not so good). He made a speech on Feb. 12 while he was deeply into his job as one of the FTC commissioners and investigating behavioral targeting. In that speech he used the phrase "day of reckoning" about online ad regulation and although it certainly has a promise of biblical wrath, he will not smite this business.