Honey, I Shrunk the Terms and Conditions

“What belongs to you stays yours.” Seems like common sense, huh? Well according to google and facebook’s terms and conditions, this is an important point that needs clarified. Lately, big online corporations such as facebook have been trying to make the move to “simplify” their privacy policies and Terms and Conditions to be more transparent, but this isn’t necessarily the fix that users wanted.

Before the shrinking of facebook’s Terms and Conditions, users could barely understand what data was being pulled from their facebook pages, much less what it was being used for. It was tough to get through the pages upon pages upon more pages of the privacy policy, and tougher yet to understand what the words actually meant for you. Facebook is a website built around user’s ability and willingness to voluntarily contribute their personal information, and once the site starts letting users in on how their information is being used, there are undoubtedly going to be protests. Organizations across the world banded together to object against facebook’s murky terms, and, according to PCWorld.com, claimed that this policy was “designed to confuse users and to frustrate attempts to limit the public disclosure of personal information that many Facebook users choose to share only with family and friends.” Overall, the feelings about facebook’s Terms and Conditions were not of a positive nature.

When human rights groups and individuals alike caused an uproar over the privacy issues that facebook’s terms brought about, the social media site decided to make a change. On September 23, 2011 and again on March 15, 2012, facebook released privacy policy revisions that were easier for the Average Joe to understand, and the policies themselves were considerably shorter. But with the new “Data Use Policy,” facebook did not really change the way they are using your data, just the language that describes how they are using it. This is not the solution that privacy groups aimed for; facebook shrunk the Terms and Conditions but forgot to protect our data better!

Facebook has taken the privacy out of its policy. In an attempt to clarify data usage for users, facebook has dwindled down the size of its’ Terms and Conditions but failed to appease the user’s right to privacy. According to an article in the Huffington Post, facebook prefers to be more straightforward with their new Data Use Policy, since the purpose of that document is not about protecting user privacy but instead about articulating how the company uses your data. Facebook has long been brought into the limelight about privacy concerns, and although they claim they are shrinking their policies to be more transparent to users, don’t let them fool you: the Terms and Conditions may be shrinking, but the threats to your privacy remain.


Yahoo! and EPIC

Do You Hadoop!?: How Yahoo! Initiated the Data Processing Framework That Could Change the Game

Yahoo! is currently the world’s most visited homepage, and with almost half a billion users each and every month, it is certainly racking up massive amounts of data on every single one of those users. From your online shopping preferences to celebrity and gossip interests, Yahoo! knows where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing. And with such vast amounts off personalized data, Yahoo! was among the frontrunners on the worldwideweb that realized this data could be leveraged into a real money-maker.

When Yahoo! first pioneered the big data front with the creation of Hadoop in 2006, companies hadn’t yet recognized the potential of these data sources. Knowing a person’s individual interests and the ways that they spend their money and time is the key to directing relevant advertising dollars, gaining consumer loyalty, and a million other possibilities that have yet to be discovered. Hadoop, a data processing and analyzing venture that Yahoo! initiated and has led for the past six years, “relies on an active community of contributors from all over the world for its success,” according to Yahoo!’s Hadoop blog. These “contributors” are mainly facebook users who generate terabytes of data each day, and this big data is stored and analyzed within Hadoop’s software framework. Yahoo!, as well as facebook and Google, have been among the leaders in figuring out what the heck to do with big data sources, and Yahoo!’s investment in Hadoop has shown that the amount of data generated requires a data processing software to match.

Just like Yahoo!, Hadoop is still growing and realizing the potential of big data sources. With unlimited amounts personalized data being freely contributed via social media daily, big data has already changed the game. Hadoop and Yahoo! are combining forces to make sense of all this data, and with the technology and creativity of these two companies, the possibilities are endless.

To learn more, check out Hadoop’s blog at: http://developer.yahoo.com/blogs/hadoop

 

 

EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center): Defending Your Privacy

There are evils lurking around every corner, especially on the Internet, but fortunately for you, there is the Electronic Privacy Information Center to protect you from every one of those injustices! EPIC is a public interest research firm based in Washington, D.C., and is leaving no rock unturned or privacy policy unchecked for the purpose of defending our civil liberties as humans. EPIC has always been at the forefront of emerging privacy infringements on the Internet, and the sole purpose of this non-profit organization is to keep companies from using our data against us. Recently, EPIC condemned Google’s new privacy policy for allowing advertisers to have easier access to what we’re searching on their site.

EPIC has been a big player in the privacy game since 1994, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. As long as there are big corporations trying to find ways to make more efficient use of the data that we supply freely, whether on social media or search engines, EPIC and other organizations like it will be there to try and stop them. Wired magazine quoted EPIC as making “everybody else at the table look moderate. It’s the old good-cop-bad-cop routine,” but this is typical for an organization that is so concerned about protecting us from the evils of corporate America. Our data is being carefully watched by all sorts of online companies, and these companies are using this data to profit. The Electronic Privacy Information Center aims to make sure that the ways these companies are profiting from our data don’t violate any of our First Amendment rights or breach our individual privacy.

EPIC has noble intentions, but with social media trends showing that we are continuing to share more and more about our personal lives with the world, how can they continue to defend our privacy if we don’t want these things to be kept private in the first place?


How Delta Saved My Friendships

My personal story with Delta Airlines goes waaay back, to even before I was born. My uncle was a Delta pilot and rewrote the technical manual for Lockheed L-1011s, and my mom was a flight attendant before I came into the picture, so Delta has always been a part of my family. But fast forward to 2012….

Myself, like a lot of us in this course, completed our undergraduate degrees somewhere other than the University of Georgia. We may be feeling the distance from our college friends now that we’re here, and frankly, it really sucks living far away from those people who were such a big part of our lives not too long ago.

I joined a sorority my sophomore year of college, and instantly felt a close bond with some of my sisters and knew that they would be lifelong friends. During my time in Milledgeville, we did everything together. We spent summer days at the pool, nights out at the bars or at home watching girly movies and drinking wine, countless hours {not really} studying in the library, and the time in between doing a million other things that didn’t really seem that important at the time, but mean so much to me looking back now. I know it seems all perfect and wonderful, but it really was.

All too soon, I was graduating and moving on to bigger things, as were most of my friends and sisters. Some stayed in Georgia, some moved out West or up North, and one of my close friends even moved to Australia! We got boyfriends, fiancees, and husbands, big girl jobs (or went to grad school), but still managed to keep in touch for the most part. But as a lot of you probably know, when you move away from your friends, it is sometimes hard to hold onto those relationships and maintain them like they had been before. Because I don’t get to see some of my friends very often, it is difficult to keep up-to-date on their daily happenings, and I don’t want this trend to continue.

So here’s where it gets back to Delta. Delta, as a means of travel, has the potential to rekindle friendships that may have suffered because of distance. Delta can reunite friends who haven’t seen each other in a few weeks, months, or even years. For some of my college friends, facebook is the only way I know what is going on in their lives, or even the only means of communication I still have with them, so facebook is crawling with personal communication and other useful data that tells the entire story of a friendship; from pictures to wall post and links to facebook messages and chats. With the accessibility that companies have to this facebook data nowadays, Delta could be crucial in helping to reconnect friends or family and offer them travel plans and exciting trips together. A Delta application could plan out the whole process using important friend information from facebook, and leave me and my friends to have the fun.

 

 


What about the rest of us?

As anyone I’m facebook friends with can clearly see, I am quite private about my personal life. I never post status updates, hardly ever post pictures or links on friend’s walls, and never ever click on the ads within facebook. So what use am I to advertisers and those (like Really Gets Me) who want to use my data to further their own purposes?

I know many people who are on facebook during every waking moment, who are sharing their stories with all who care to see. This is where the gold mine is for big data purposes. Advertisers and companies can learn all about a person and use this information to better target their audience, and facebook users freely and openly post this information. However, there are also tons of people like me, who are a lot more weary of giving out personal information. After I made my boyfriend read the article about the App store gaining access to your contact list as well as mobile pictures (not that he had anything incriminating!), he deleted the facebook app from his phone. I am not quite as extreme as of yet, but this action is not unwarranted. We’ve discussed how people recoil at the permissions that facebook wants us to grant, but when companies like Apple are gaining access to our personal pictures and address book, I see why even those who are ignorant to what these things are really being used for are even a little more than nervous.

There’s clearly a line drawn between those of us who aren’t frequent facebookers and those of us who are. But with these new ideas like the opt-out of advertisements button, how will advertisers and these companies who so desperately want our information continue to get it if we are not sharing it? Obviously if you have a facebook account you must have posted or shared at least a little information, but the creep out factor for some here is so intense that advertisers are getting nothing. So where does that leave the non-frequent facebook users? Because we choose not to share we don’t get the perks of sharing, obviously, but is there an alternative?


More chapter topics

I like Jackie’s ideas for the other four chapter topics…and here are a few more.

Expanding on the personalization topic she talked about, we could also include how personalization versus aggregate data is important when it comes to the consumers.

OpenGraph

  • how it works
  • what the information pulled from it is being used for
  • Facebook Connect

Facebook privacy (Dr. Shamp touched on this in his regulation section)

  • where your data is going
  • US vs. Europe
  • the creep factor and how RGM can avoid being creepy

Company regression equations

  • Finding out what the “Y” of your company is
  • How to get the most out of data to achieve this goal

 


What airlines are doing…and what Delta can do better

For the majority of companies out there, the endless possibilities that facebook Open Graph offers is all about the waiting game…waiting to see what social media pioneers do with the opportunities, then making sure to not wait too long to jump on the bandwagon so they are not left behind. This is also true for airlines in their quest to be part of the first movers or early adopters when it comes to utilizing the full potential of facebook data and applications. Airlines and related companies are using facebook apps to help users book flights, check in, post their itineraries to friends, and are already creating apps that allow users to see who of their friends live or will be at the same destination at the same time they will be there. My new company is Delta, which is one of (if not THE) most recognized and trusted airlines currently operating, and it is important for Delta to be that pioneer company that finds the latest and greatest ways to employ Open Graph to build more trust and better relationships with their customers. This idea needs to go deeper than what Delta and other airlines already have in place via facebook, such as being able to use the app to view SkyMiles accounts and find a ticket.

One European airline has even created a facebook app that allows users to create their own luggage tag that prominently displays the name of the airline so everyone knows how cool it is.

Delta has a lot of opportunity because there are so many different potential constituencies that Really Gets Me/I could target. Facebook users post ridiculous amounts of information about the trips they take, which is a huge advantage for an airline company that wants to find new ways to connect with customers. Yes, there are already a lot of apps out there for frequent travelers that can direct them to the best deal around or to a plane that provides in-flight wi-fi. There are even a handful of apps out there that try to show customers that the company understands them and what they want out of a flying experience. But Really Gets Me is all about giving fresh ideas to our companies that keep them ahead of the curve, and I don’t think there are any airline apps out there that can do it ALL for a customer. I just have to figure out how to bring all of that together (for Delta) between now and May 4th!

 


My potential new company…and edited company letter

Hi guys,

Obviously I no longer have a company to work with, and am really sorry for making us look bad to NCR for not knowing that they had sold Blockbuster Express to Coinstar/Redbox. That’s kind of a big thing to miss. It’s also a real bummer, because there was a lot of opportunity with BBX, but I’ve come up with a short list of potential options for my new company that also have a lot of room for opportunity with facebook data sources. All three companies are headquartered/have huge facilities in Georgia, and I already have ideas brewing for all three. I have a personal connection to two of them– Kia and Road Atlanta– and thought RaceTrac gas stations could also be a contender.

Kia already has a vast social media presence and great advertising, but there is always room for improvement, and as I worked with Kia in connection with a motorsports racing team last year, I feel I could target the racing fans and car enthusiasts out there and convert them to Kia fans. Kia recently opened a $1 billion state of the art facility in West Point, Ga.

Road Atlanta has a ton of racing events going on all year, and has shown that they are interested in gaining more of a social presence and is willing to work with new ideas.

RaceTrac, besides being a gas station, offers a ton of other snack-y things that constantly go on sale, just like any other gas station. They could use facebook to gather when people are hungry for a quick snack (their Taquitos are delicious!) or when they are about to embark on a roadtrip and need to fill up. I know that I will hold out getting gas for a few extra miles if I know my favorite gas station is just down the road, and in keeping with hedging out the competition, I could help build a relationship between RaceTrac and their customers.

I see pros and cons for each of these companies, but if you guys could post on here or discuss with me in class on thursday to help narrow it down (or decide to scrap these ideas altogether), I would very much appreciate it! Thanks for any feedback!

 

And here’s my new letter:

Dear (New Client),

I’m Kelsi Nilsson and I have a proposition for you.

I am a graduate student at the University of Georgia, and an avid facebook user, as I’m sure most of your customers and potential customers are as well. With over 850 million users worldwide and each one of those adding new information about themselves and others daily, facebook is a vast source of knowledge for companies like you.

So here’s where the proposition comes in. For one of my courses this semester, we have created a data mining company called Really Gets Me, and I chose to research (insert new client here) to find ways to make your business not only more profitable, but to gain loyal followers by showing them that you understand them. That sounds like a very lofty goal, but through the use of facebook’s Open Graph, the place where we can connect you and facebook and gather information about users that is pertinent to you, we can really target each of your individual customers to give them (whatever it is that my new client offers). Over the course of the next three months, I will find new ways for (my new client) to utilize all of this personalized data so that your patrons can know how much you really get them and their individual interests. It is crucial for companies these days to stay ahead of the curve and give their customers exactly what they want, and facebook’s opengraph data gives you a way to build a real relationship with your constituents and truly give them what they want without having to tell you what that is.

I would love a few minutes of your time to talk about what you would like to see from this project and what your thoughts are on what I have just proposed, and in order for you to really understand and properly implement my Really Gets Me approach, I would ask that you be available on May 4th to attend our showcase at the University of Georgia in Athens. If you have any questions before then, please feel free to contact me via email or phone; I assure a prompt response. I look forward to speaking with you!

 

Thank you,

Kelsi Nilsson


Company Letter- Blockbuster Express

Dear (Blockbuster Express),

I’m Kelsi Nilsson and I have a proposition for you.

I am a graduate student at the University of Georgia, and an avid facebook user, as I’m sure most of your customers and potential customers are as well. With over 850 million users worldwide and each one of those adding new information about themselves and others daily, facebook is a vast source of knowledge for companies like you.

So here’s where the proposition comes in. For one of my courses this semester, we have created a data mining company called Really Gets Me, and I chose to research Blockbuster Express to find ways to make your business not only more profitable, but to gain loyal followers by showing them that you understand them. That sounds like a very lofty goal, but through the use of facebook’s Open Graph, the place where we can connect you and facebook and gather information about users that is pertinent to you, we can really target each of your individual customers to give them a simple and satisfying experience at each of your kiosks. I can collect data about the kinds of movies that these users like through their facebook interests, posts, friend’s posts, and tags, and find a better way to connect Blockbuster Express customers with the rentals that they would like. Over the course of the next three months, I will develop an application for you that will utilize all of this personalized data so that your patrons can know how much you really get them and their individual interests.

Blockbuster Express is in the business of entertaining people, and what more could facebook users want than to find new, more convenient ways to get their entertainment? Blockbuster Express clients could be movie buffs who frequent your kiosks quite often to keep up with new releases, casual movie renters just looking to cuddle up on the couch with their sweetheart, and anywhere in between, but my aim for this project is to reach a younger age group of facebook users with individualized information that will entice them to use Blockbuster Express over your competitors by building a real relationship with them. I promise to give 110% of my effort and knowledge into this project, and will be working no less than six hours per week to ensure that Blockbuster Express can offer the most valuable information to customers: information that is relevant to them.

I would love a few minutes of your time to talk about what you would like to see from this project and what your thoughts are on what I have just proposed, and would like you to be available to answer no more than five emails from me between now and May 5th. Also, in order for you to really understand and properly implement my Really Gets Me approach, I would ask that you be available on May 5th to attend our showcase at the University of Georgia in Athens. This is a crucial piece of the puzzle in solving how big data sources such as facebook can really benefit companies like Blockbuster Express, and I can answer any practical questions you may have at this showcase. If you have any questions before then, please feel free to contact me via email or phone; I assure a prompt response. I look forward to speaking with you!

 

Thank you,

Kelsi Nilsson

 

(Class Note: Is this formal enough for our collective style? I would very much appreciate any feedback on whether or not I should change my style here!)


Facebook Apps Privacy Settings History

Since facebook started gaining all of its massive popularity in the last few years, its privacy settings have changed to “reflect society’s trends toward becoming more open,” according to AllFacebook, the unofficial facebook resource. When third-party applications started being utilized on facebook, apps such as “When will I get married?” and Pandora, these apps asked permission to access your account. This permission, if granted, gave the application access to ANY of the information on your facebook, or information on other people’s facebook pages about you. Facebook previously stated that it does, in no way, screen or approve Platform Developers, and does not control what information these apps get or how they use it. Basically, facebook took no responsibility for the apps that it allows to be hosted on its’ website. However, facebook has been sued numerous times for violating privacy laws, and has since changed the privacy settings for apps. They have not changed it in a big way, mostly just the language of how the settings are phrased, because the apps still access your information. The privacy policy concerning third-party applications now says that “In order to provide you with useful social experiences off of Facebook, we occasionally need to provide General Information about you to pre-approved third party websites and applications that use Platform at the time you visit them (if you are still logged in to Facebook). Similarly, when one of your friends visits a pre-approved website or application, it will receive General Information about you so you and your friend can be connected on that website as well (if you also have an account with that website). In these cases we require these websites and applications to go through an approval process, and to enter into separate agreements designed to protect your privacy…You can disable instant personalization on all pre-approved websites and applications using your Applications and Websites privacy setting. You can also block a particular pre-approved website or application by clicking “No Thanks” in the blue bar when you visit that application or website. In addition, if you log out of Facebook before visiting a pre-approved application or website, it will not be able to access your information.” Oh great. Facebook was supposed to update the privacy policy to protect user’s information, but it seems that all they’ve done is change the wording of the policy, because it still collects my information, as well as my friends’ information.

Facebook explains away why it is important to have access to your information and you friends list, to “make your experience more social.” But the truth is, these apps, that you have no idea who created them or for what reason, have you and your friends information. Apps request your permission before you can use them, and sometimes allow you to choose what information you share with them, but the majority of these apps do not let you choose, or require that you provide all of your info.

Facebook does now give the option to turn off all applications, but if you’re addicted to Farmville, this may be a problem. Users like facebook because they can experience a variety of apps for free, and app developers like using this idea to their advantage. And why should they not use this information? If people are putting it out there, we might as well find good uses for it. I am sure that not all the apps on facebook are using our information for good, but Really Gets Me is here to save the day and find ways for clients to really get the most out of being creepy. We have to embrace the fact that facebook and its posse access our information, because really, what is private anymore these days? Also, below is a history of how facebook’s privacy settings have changed since 2005.

 

Facebook Privacy History Infographic


Facebook Privacy Policy — Nothing Private About It

When browsing around the facebook, I noticed that the section where it talks about their privacy policy is not called a ‘privacy policy’, but rather a ‘data use policy’. Apparently, there is nothing private about facebook.

As we have all come to know, once you create a facebook account, facebook owns you and all of the information you choose to post. Or that someone posts about you without first asking you. Or any other information they receive about us, just in general. These are seriously some of the categories that the ‘data use policy’ describes as being information that facebook now has about you. It also mentions your IP address, GPS location, and pages that you may search for or look at as information that facebook holds.

From watching a lot of SVU and NCIS, I know that it is pretty easy for a person to be found via their computer’s IP address and what websites they surfed. But to see it in writing that facebook has my IP address and GPS location, pretty much at all times since I access facebook on my phone quite often, is a little unnerving.

The data use policy also mentions that once you make your information public, anyone can see it, even non-facebook users. The terms of this policy also say, repeatedly, that if you don’t like their terms, you should delete your facebook. I think this is where facebook really has the majority of users in a chokehold: users want to see what their friends are doing and have their friends be able to see what they’re doing, and this desire outweighs the privacy issue. Therefore, while many people may complain about facebook’s lack of privacy, most of us aren’t willing to do anything about it. This is how the creep line keeps getting pushed further and further back.

Since information posted on facebook is public, there are a multitude of ways this can be used for good (such as Really Gets Me), but there are also an equal number of ways that it can be potentially harmful to the users. If you or your friends post pictures of you out partying when you called in sick to work and your boss happens to see it, you might be in some trouble. If your friend tags you playing putt-putt with your other friend’s boyfriend and the other friend sees it, you might be in some trouble. You see where this is heading.

As we can see from reading facebook’s data use policy, there isn’t really anything too private about facebook. As Jen found, facebook may not be selling all of this information (yet), but it is definitely accumulating all of our data. Maybe they are planning a mass digital attack on America, or maybe they just truly would rather keep our information to themselves, but either way, I think users could use a little more discretion in their posting, because we never know what the true motives behind facebook’s data use policy are, or how our public facebook information could turn on us in one way or another.