Global TV Tech Buzz: Should You Trust Facebook?


facebook graph search

[twitter]Facebook unveiled Graph Search this week, and Instagram’s much ballyhooed new Terms of Service came into effect this weekend.

The developments have savvy users trusting how much information they give to the social networks and put online. Should you trust Facebook?

facebook graph search

FACEBOOK GRAPH SEARCH

The new search tool from Facebook is set to rely on the wisdom of the crowds. It won’t index the collective internet, it will canvass your friends on Facebook for information. Looking for a good restaurant in Toronto? Graph Search will tell you what your friends have said.

Graph Search is in beta and rolling out to users now (note you need to have your language set to English US to be on the queue’s waitlist). While on the surface it sounds useful, it’s the easy access to deeper information that should be concerning to users. Just as timeline made your history easy to troll chronologically, Graph Search will index anything and everything you have put on the site and make it searchable by people in your network.

Facebook says current privacy rules will be respected, so if you have something set to friends, only friends will find it. If you have a setting for friends of friends, only they will find it. If you have things set to public, anyone can find it.

I have a box of notes and letters from girlfriends over the years in my basement. I don’t know why I’ve kept it this long, but I have it. I’m lucky that my young romances existed preFacebook, because those letters can stay in the shoebox for nobody else to read.

With the release of Facebook Graph Search this week, Mark Zuckerberg has opened your entire Facebook history to more effective trolling as a way to better serve ads. It makes Facebook a more active place to look for information, and now if you’re searching your timeline for hotels in Mexico that your friends have stayed at, the relevant ads can pop up next to it.

ANYTHING THAT IS GOOD FOR FACEBOOK IS BAD FOR YOU

Facebook is in the business of advertising. Everything you put in to the site, they repackage to serve ads to you. Yes, the more information you put in to the site, the more relevant the ads can be, but the more information you put into the site, the more anyone on the internet will know about you without your permission.

So it is time to lock down your settings, again. Better still, it’s time to stop putting any information into Facebook. I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist when I talk like this, but Facebook is better used when it’s a chat tool. If you are putting very personal information on there, you are giving it up to the internet.

Which brings us to Instagram.

NEW TERMS OF SERVICE FOR INSTAGRAM

The new Terms of Service for Instagram came into effect yesterday. They were introduced as part of the acquisition of the company by Facebook and while much of the terms are for basic function of the site, the sharing of information between Facebook and Instagram that it demands means your Instagram photos will eventually be a part of Graph Search. That includes location information you put in your photos.

The part of the new Terms that has me most aggravated, has remained. Here’s a plain English translation from Gizmodo:

• you own your content, but also give Instagram a license to do whatever Instagram wants with it, including putting ads on or near it
• it’s OK if Instagram doesn’t mark paid, sponsored, or commercial content or communications as paid, sponsored, or commercial
• you can’t sue Instagram for basically anything that happens on Instagram, and if by some chance you are able to, you’re limited to $100 in damages

I try not to put photos on Facebook because I like to control my content. Same with Instagram.

BTW, all that fuss about Terms of Service wasn’t bad for business. Instagram now has 90M active users, up 10% from December. If you’re a user, check out the new ToS in plain English and understand what you’re agreeing to.

Contrast this with a court ruling involving Twitter photos this week that protected the user copyright. Very often you’ll see news organizations pull photos from Twitter for breaking new events. Things like the plane on the Hudson, earthquakes, etc. The terms for Twitter say organizations can’t do that without your permission. The courts have upheld that restriction. Very different than how things happen with Facebook/Instagram.

Use the social networking tools to connect and communicate, but be careful about how much of your soul you pour into the site, because you’re sharing it with the world.

nhl gamecenterAPP OF THE WEEK: NHL GameCenter [freemium]
The official app of the NHL will let you keep up to date on every team in the league. It’s free to download to get highlights and scores and news, but if you want to listen or watch out of market teams, it’s $50. I’m a Canucks fan living in Calgary, I don’t get all my blue-and-green here in the C of Red, so I’ve signed up for GameCenter this year so I can watch the games.

There are blackouts involved if the games are on tv. But with the iOS app, I’ll be able to stream to my iPhone, iPad, or through my Apple TV. That’s how it is supposed to work anyhow. Yesterday during the first games, Gamecenter was down, crashed, borked, failed.

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