Archive for Facebook

Germany To Facebook: You Can’t Use WhatsApp Data

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 27, 2016 by itnerd

A German privacy regulator has told Facebook “Nein!” when it comes to collecting user information from WhatsApp. You might remember that this became an issue a little while ago, and now it looks like Facebook is starting to experience some blowback on this front. The Germans also said that Facebook has to delete all information it had already collected from the messaging service. Here’s some details via Bloomberg:

“This order protects the data of about 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany,” [Johannes] Caspar said. “It has to be their decision as to whether they want to connect their account with Facebook. Therefore, Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened.” The Hamburg authority claims jurisdiction over the company’s German activities because Facebook’s national unit is based in the area.

Facebook has said that it will appeal this decision and it’s clear why it would do that. This decision makes it difficult for Facebook to make money off its users, and it may lead to other countries imposing similar restrictions.

Let the games begin.



WhatsApp Will Share Your Number With Facebook

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 25, 2016 by itnerd

Seeing as Facebook owns popular messaging app WhatApp, I’m not shocked by this development at all. WhatsApp will apparently start sharing your phone number with Facebook to serve up ads among other things to you. The company outlined in a blog post the kind of interactions it wants to enable, including more targeted ads, being notified by your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction or being warned about a delayed flight. Connected with this is the release of this new WhatsApp FAQ that has more details.

Now all of this sounds good on the surface. But remember, when Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, it was promised that their stance on privacy would not change. Now it appears that it is changing. As a result, here’s another way for Facebook to make you the product. One has to wonder how many users will bail out of the service because of this.

We’re about to find out.

#Fail: Facebook Messenger To Encrypt Messages… But Only If You Opt In

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 8, 2016 by itnerd

Facebook announced today it would roll out optional “end to end encryption” for its Messenger application. The company shared technical details about its implementation of the security in a technical white paper (Warning: PDF) But note the word optional. You have to enable encryption yourself for this announcement to be of value to you.

What’s up with that?

Here’s my guess as to to why Facebook might have gone this route. End to end encryption means that the users at both ends of the conversation have the traffic going back and forth between them encrypted. That means Facebook can’t see what goes back and forth from those users. Which poses a problem for Facebook who mines data that users produce so they can make as much money as possible from it. If end to end encryption was enabled by default, that would cause Facebook to lose some of its revenue stream. If they made end to end encryption optional, and say only 25% of users enabled it, they would still make money off the other 75%. Yes that’s a very cynical view of things. But it is a logical explanation seeing as they were able to switch end to end encryption on with WhatsApp earlier this year with no issues. Thus you have to look at this whole situation and just conclude that it falls firmly in the category called #fail.

#Fail: Facebook To Begin Tracking & Advertising To Non Users Around The Internet

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 27, 2016 by itnerd

I have nothing to do with Facebook for the simple reason that members of Facebook have a long history of being tracked and data mined to death. I really don’t want any part of that. But if Facebook has its way, I will have no choice. You see, the news is out that Facebook is starting to track and toss ads at non Facebook users on the Internet:

Facebook will now display ads to web users who are not members of its social network, the company announced Thursday, in a bid to significantly expand its online ad network. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Facebook will use cookies, “like” buttons, and other plug-ins embedded on third-party sites to track members and non-members alike. The company says it will be able to better target non-Facebook users and serve relevant ads to them, though its practices have come under criticism from regulators in Europe over privacy concerns. Facebook began displaying a banner notification at the top of its News Feed for users in Europe today, alerting them to its use of cookies as mandated under an EU directive.

“Publishers and app developers have some users who aren’t Facebook users,” Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook’s ads and business platform, tells the Journal. “We think we can do a better job powering those ads.”

Now if you don’t want to be part of this, here’s what you need to do. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can opt-out through Digital Advertising Alliance in the United States and Canada, and the European Interactive Digital Adverting Alliance in Europe. But I think the point is why is Facebook being this aggressive? Of course it’s all about the almighty dollar for them. But I think it crosses a line when they start going after people who don’t even consent to have their every move tracked, monitored, and monetized.

Facebook Android App Looks At Your Clipboard…. What?

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 4, 2016 by itnerd

Early this morning, I was minding my own business when I saw this Twitter post from Dan Levy that got my attention:

I have to admit that this got my attention. So in the interest of confirming or denying this, I grabbed an Android phone and installed the Facebook app (after first creating a Facebook account to test this out with). It took me over an hour, but I was able to replicate this. Not only that, when I was able to replicate this the app was closed at the time which doesn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies.

Now I know that Facebook is the type of platform where it tries to mine your data in any and every way possible so that they can make a buck or two. Thus you cannot expect any level of privacy. But the fact they are looking at your clipboard takes how invasive they are to a whole new level. Because I am not an avid Facebook user, I had no idea that this was the case. However thanks to some quick research, it is apparent that this is not a new behavior as there’s a Reddit post from October of last year that shows that this behavior was noticed back then and it seems to be cross platform as the iOS version does something similar. Plus there’s another mention of it that seems to back that up from earlier that month.

So, let’s get to the central question. Should you be worried about this? I say maybe you should be. Why? It isn’t clear to me what the company might be doing with anything in your clipboard. Are they using it to simply allow you to add links in your clipboard to posts quickly, or are they mining it somehow? Plus it could be really easy to accidentally post something to your Facebook timeline which could end badly for you. And the fact that this “feature” if you want to call it that works when the app is closed is problematic. Finally, there does not seem to be a way to disable this (But if there is a way to disable it and I am missing it, please comment below and let me know). The bottom line is that while Facebook users should expect that their data is being used, I am not sure if they signed on for this level of invasive behavior. Though I admit that I could be completely wrong and Facebook users are fine with this…. Though Dan Levy who brought this to my attention clearly isn’t a Facebook user who is fine with this. What do you think? Please post a comment and share your thoughts.

Extend The Battery Life Of Your iPhone By Dumping The Facebook App

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 8, 2016 by itnerd

If you have an iPhone and you have the Facebook app on your iPhone, you might want to dump the app. Guardian tech writer Samuel Gibbs has found that deleting the Facebook app and using Safari instead can boost battery life by up to 15%:

On average I had 15% more battery left by 10.30pm each day. I had also saved space, because at the point I had deleted the Facebook app it had consumed around 500MB in total combining the 111MB of the app itself and its cache on the iPhone.

To make sure that this wasn’t an isolated incident, I also recruited several other Facebook-using iPhone owners to conduct a similar test. They all found similar results, with increased battery life when using Facebook in Safari having uninstalled the main Facebook iOS app.

That’s got to suck if you’re Facebook, who are investigating this report. But you should be advised that this is not the first time Facebook has run into this issue. Battery usage by the Facebook app ran amok last year even when sleeping, an issue the company later resolved. Clearly, there are still issues with the app and battery drain.

Facebook Dumps Adobe Flash For HTML5…. But Flash Isn’t Dead Yet…

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 21, 2015 by itnerd

It is becoming increasingly clear that Adobe Flash is doomed. The latest nail in their coffin is the fact that Facebook is dumping Flash for HTML5. Here’s why they’re doing that:

Moving to HTML5 best enables us to continue to innovate quickly and at scale, given Facebook’s large size and complex needs.

But wait! Doesn’t Facebook use Flash for all those games that people love? Fear not! Flash will still be used for those. At least for now until they figure out a way to move to something else as Flash has a very limited lifespan. Something that this announcement will contribute to.