Make the Right Choice

After watching a video about Google Goggles, I was reminded of its potential.. and was motivated to give it a whirl. However, as I walked through the activation steps in the app, the final screen asked if I wanted to Enable Search History.

It read “With search history, you’ll be able to view and manage saved copies of the pictures you take. Your images will also be retained by Google to help improve our service.” The finer print explained my IP address, and all my information available through my Google Account will also be retained by Google, in association with the picture, for up to 5 weeks.

Knowing that, which would you choose: Disable or Enable?

The trouble with this is I can’t know how I will use Goggles. I don’t expect there would be any reason not to enable this setting, but then, might I regret that some day? How could I know? How does anybody know?

I suppose, if in doubt, I should choose Disable. But then I’m not contributing to the enhancement of a tool I’m using. Seems a bit contradictory, no?

What’s at issue here is the false appearance of empowerment that companies like Google give us. They’re telling us we are in control by choosing privacy settings such as the one stated above, but when we can’t possibly comprehend the impact of those choices, how empowered are we?

To explore how Google Goggles works, simply click on this picture below to launch a video.


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Facebook Privacy: Advertisers Get More Power

I read a post by Inside Facebook announcing that Facebook is testing new advertisements that target users based on status updates and wall post content. This form of targeting is similar to the content targeting method used by other advertising networks like Google Adwords.

From an advertiser’s perspective, this may help improve the conversion rate of Facebook ads because ads can be configured to reach only users who are “talking” about a topic related to the ad.

From a Facebook user’s perspective, it’s a mixed bag. Some users may see it as a positive, thinking to themselves, “Since it is inevitable that ads will be displayed on Facebook, I’d rather see ads which are more relevant to me”.

Other users may see it as a negative and a gross invasion of privacy. Since status updates and wall posts on a personal profile are in a private environment, allowing advertisers to target based on this content is like allowing Facebook and advertisers to tap into these personal conversations.

If Facebook were to launch this new targeting method, it undoubtedly needs to have an opt-out option for users. Better yet (but highly unlikely), it should be an opt-in option.

Whether you are wearing the advertisers’ hat or the Facebook users’ hat, it’s important to be aware of the ever changing online and social media environment.


Photo Credit: mjmonty

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Handling multiple accounts: Convenience vs. Privacy?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how many email accounts I have.  And how I seem to be getting fewer emails, but continue to check multiple accounts.

I have a personal email that I use for most things.  I have a school email account that is still active.  I have a work email, which I like to keep separate from my other accounts.  And lastly, I have a ‘placeholder’ account that I use when I need to give an email account to sign up for something.  These in combination with the other online tools I use each day make me a busy lady.

I have a Twitter account, used largely for professional purposes. I use Google Reader to compile my RSS feeds.  I visit LinkedIn once a day to follow discussions of the groups that I have joined.  I also have a few other personal sites that I like to check every day.

And of course, I have Facebook – my go-to for staying in the loop with friends and even checking out those who I have not stayed close with.  I can see the pictures of friends who just recently returned from a trip.  I can see who is engaged, who is having a baby, and who is moving house.  I have fewer reasons to touch base via personal email, because I feel like I am already in the know.

Yesterday, Facebook announced their new ‘modern messaging system’.  This online chat/text/real-time conversation tool is being described as a combination of email, SMS and IM.  Sounds like a good idea right?

Being able to cross stuff off my list, or shorten my to dos, is always a good thing.  This new integration would potentially allow me to eliminate my email, leaving me with one less thing I need to check every day.  Hmmm…  maybe more time for sleep?

Then my curious nature kicks in and my thought process goes as follows:  Facebook already knows more about its 500 million users than it knows what to do with.  And although Facebook makes us feel like we are in the know, Facebook is truly the one in the know.

Is giving Facebook access to even more personal information something I should be worried about?  I mean, I don’t have that much to hide.  But it certainly makes me think.

I am faced with the decision of whether to make one less online pit stop each day or consider an analogy frequently used in financial investing – do I want to put all, or most of, my eggs in one basket?


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A Teenager’s Guide to Social Media

Feeling a need for a teenager’s guide to social media?  In the last few months, several people have approached me about what to do about their teenage son/daughter/nephew/granddaughter online.

It’s troubling how private, impulsive messages are slapped up to a Facebook Wall without much thought or clue of how such impetuous actions will exist forever more.  In fact, Google’s CEO himself suggested there will come a time when many  teenagers will be applying for a name change … as this is the only hope they’ll have to escape years of embarrassing content.

A recent study shows 3/4 of kids in grades 7 – 12 have some kind of social media profile online.  The study revealed the average teen spends 22 minutes a day – or 11 hours a month – on social networks.  That’s part of the nearly 8 hours a day teens dedicate to consuming all kinds of media.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again..  I’m so glad I didn’t have access to something like Facebook when I was 13.  I was living from one self-absorbed moment to the next.. only ever in a single moment in time.  Zero foresight.  Perhaps that is the way of the teen.

So when you see a young adult publicly posting compromising content – what do you do?

Get them to stop, right?

But asking them to extract from Facebook, Twitter, FormSpring, etc… is like asking them to cut off an intimate connection with their friends; a now routine and expected form of engagement.

So if you can’t stop them – here are 3 simple changes that might help.

  1. Encourage the teen to create a private Facebook Group between friends.  Facebook Groups have changed recently.  Group founders can now tag friends, making them automatic members (speeds up adoption).  What Groups can do is take potentially damaging conversations and photos from a public arena (a wall) to a private arena (a Group – which can have a “secret” setting).
  2. Furthermore, if the teen begins to use Facebook Places – which is Facebook’s location-based “check-in” tool  (potentially scary consequences for young people) – this could be set up to only broadcast to the “Group”.
  3. In terms of other social networks, my suggestion: pseudonyms.  This is 100% counter to what we tell our clients, but for a teen, I recommend it wherever it can be done.

What other ideas do people have?  How do you suggest folk manage (or more accurately: influence) teenage conduct online?

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Facebook Privacy Settings

Consumers’ perceptions of a company include their perception of a company’s executives and employees. Facebook and many other social networks, are built on open sharing and genuine conversations. Although personal profiles are not meant for business purposes, these profiles still influence how a person is perceived online. For those who do not want to mix business with their personal lives, Facebook, in particular, has a series of settings to help you control how open your personal profile is to the world.

Facebook’s privacy policy, user interface and controls have changed a lot in the past year. Here is a quick guide to help you set up your account the way you want it.

  1. Go to and log in.
  2. Click on “Account” (located near the top right corner) and select “Privacy Settings” in the drop down menu. This is the first page of privacy settings you can change.
  3. Under the “Sharing on Facebook” section, click the “Customize settings” link to customize your settings.
  4. After customizing your settings, go back to the “Privacy” page.
  5. Next, under the “Basic Directory Information” section on the “Privacy” page, click on the “View settings” link (located at the end of the paragraph). This page will allow you to customize what information you want to appear on your public directory profile. NOTE: Your name, profile picture, gender and networks are always open to everyone.
  6. After customizing your settings, go back to the “Privacy” page.
  7. Next, if you do not want your public profile to appear in search engine listings at all, under the “Applications and Website” section (located near the bottom right of the “Privacy” page), click on the “Edit your settings” link.
  8. Click the “Edit Settings” button located right of the “Public search” item. Make sure the “Enable public search” item is un-checked.
There you have it. The settings are scattered about on Facebook, but using this guide allows you to control your privacy on Facebook. Well, some of it anyway.
eMarketing Strategist

There you have it. The settings are scattered about on Facebook, but using this guide allows you to control your privacy on Facebook. Well, some of it anyway.

eMarketing Strategist

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