Trinity Mount Ministries

Showing posts with label WebProNews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WebProNews. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Facebook Dodges FTC Fines Over Privacy After Google Gets Nailed :

Facebook Dodges FTC Fines Over Privacy After Google Gets Nailed

Facebook Dodges FTC Fines Over Privacy After Google Gets Nailed
A day after handing Google the largest fine it has ever handed to a single company, for allegedly deceiving users over privacy, the FTC has settled another privacy matter with Google’s industry rival Facebook, with no fine at all, provided Facebook complies with its regular privacy audits.
The FTC says Facebook must obtain consumers’ consent before sharing their information beyond established privacy settings, following a public comment period on the proposed settlement. Charges that Facebook deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their info on Facebook private, then allowing it to be shared and made public (repeatedly) have now been resolved.
Facebook is required to obtain biennial privacy audits from an independent third party.
The Commission vote to approve the final order was 3-1-1, with Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch dissenting and Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen not participating.
Following is the FTC’s statement in its entirety (authored by Chairman Jon D. Leibowitz and Commissioners Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill):
The final consent order in In re Facebook, Inc. that we approve today advances the privacy interests of the nearly one billion Facebook users around the world by requiring the company to live up to its promises and submit to privacy audits. Notably, Facebook will be subject to civil penalties of up to $16,000 for each violation of the order. We intend to monitor closely Facebook’s compliance with the order and will not hesitate to seek civil penalties for any violations.
We write to address the arguments raised by our colleague, Commissioner Rosch, who opposes final approval of the order. One of his objections relates to the extent to which the order would reach the activities of third-party “apps” downloaded by consumers while using the Facebook platform. The Order broadly prohibits Facebook from misrepresenting in any manner, expressly or by implication, the extent to which it maintains the privacy or security of any information it collects from or about consumers. For a company whose entire business model rests on collecting, maintaining, and sharing people’s information, this prohibition touches on virtually every aspect of Facebook’s operations. Further, the Order sets forth clear examples of how this broad prohibition would apply in connection with apps, by prohibiting Facebook from misrepresenting the extent to which it makes its users’ information accessible to apps; or the steps it takes to verify the privacy or security protections that apps provide.
A statement from Facebook about an app’s conduct may well amount to a promise that Facebook is taking steps to assure the level of privacy or security that the app provides for consumers’ information.
These provisions make clear that Facebook will be liable for conduct by apps that contradicts Facebook’s promises about the privacy or security practices of these apps. Commissioner Rosch also opposes the consent order because it includes a denial by Facebook of the substantive allegations in the Commission’s complaint.
Based on this denial, Commissioner Rosch asserts that the Commission lacks the requisite “reason to believe” that Facebook violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and a basis to conclude that the settlement is in “the interest of the public.”
We strongly disagree with Commissioner Rosch’s view that if the Commission allows a respondent to deny the complaint’s substantive allegations, or use language that is tantamount to a denial, there is no basis for the Commission to conclude that the respondent engaged in unlawful conduct or that the consent is in the public interest. As Commissioner Rosch is aware, an extensive investigation and detailed staff recommendation has given the Commission a strong—not just a reasonable—basis to issue its complaint in this case and to conclude that both the complaint and the resulting settlement are in the public interest. Here, as in all enforcement cases, it is the evidentiary record developed by FTC staff during the course of its investigation, not any ensuing settlement agreement, that forms the basis for action by the Commission. A respondent’s denial of liability in a consent agreement does not diminish staff’s extensive investigation or the ability of the Commission to find a reasonable basis to finalize a settlement or to enforce an order that results from settlement negotiations. Moreover, express denials of liability are consistent with the Commission’s current Rules of Practice.
We view the final consent order in this matter to be a major step forward for consumer privacy and hereby approve it.
While we do not believe that a respondent’s denial of liability is reason to reject a settlement that is in the public interest, we share Commissioner Rosch’s desire to avoid any possible public misimpression that the Commission obtains settlements when it lacks reason to believe that the alleged conduct occurred. We commend Commissioner Rosch for focusing our attention on the issue; going forward, express denials will be strongly disfavored. We also appreciate Commissioner Rosch’s suggestion that consent order language that the respondent “neither admits nor denies” a complaint’s allegations may very well be a more effective way to ensure that there are no misimpressions about the Commission’s process. Accordingly, we will consider in the coming months whether a modification to the Commission Rules of Practice is warranted.
Do you think this is a fair settlement, or did Facebook get off too easy?
Image from All Things D conference
About Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Controversy Makes Chick-fil-A One Of The Fastest Growing Brands On Facebook:

I probably don’t have to tell you that Chick-fil-A is at the center of a great deal of controversy these days, concerning its open views on gay marriage. These views have led to a seemingly endless debate among Chick-fil-A supporters, opponents, and those who just want to eat some chicken and go on about their business.
One thing is for certain. The whole thing has given the restaurant chain a whole lot of press, and over the past month, the company’s social brand has been on the rise.
Was stating its views on the matter of same-sex marriage a smart decision on Chick-fil-A’s part? Tell us what you think.
Social media ad platform Optimal has released a list of the top performing brands on its Optimal Index for July. As a spokesperson for the firm explains, “The Optimal Index is an independent valuation tool to help determine the relative value of a brand’s current audience on Facebook by combining fan counts, engagement statistics and global fan valuation.”
“Interestingly, amid recent controversial comments made by members of its executive team, Chick-fil-A added 524,238 new fans in July, and more than 550,000 people discussed, liked or commented on the brand in the past week,” the spokesperson said.
Here’s the list. As you can see, Chick-fil-A cracked the top ten:
Chick-Fil-A cracks top ten in social brand growth
Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page currently has over 6 million fans. That’s about a tenth of what rapper Marshall Mathers (the most popular guy on Facebook) has.
These graphs from PageData tell the story pretty well.
PageData stats on Chick-fil-A
The comments from Chick-fil-A took place in the mid-July, and you can see how the Page’s popularity has steadily risen since then, as the discussion continues around the web. Imagine what the monthly numbers would look like if the controversy began at the beginning of the month.
Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy was quoted as saying that he and the company as a whole are “very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives.”
The company later issued the following statement via its Facebook Page:
The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.
Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.
Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
Wednesday became known as Chick-fil-A appreciation day, which turned out to be a pretty big hit for the company, with the company claiming a record-setting day. Millions of people turned out to support the restaurant chain, and their beliefs.
Of course, the controversy also led to National Same-Sex Kiss Day At Chick-fil-A on Friday, which in addition to the turn out for beliefs on the opposite side of the equation, has still served to draw more attention to the brand.
There’s no question that Chick-fil-A has alienated a large amount of customers, but even still, the company appears to have put together a pretty loyal audience, and thousands of people (and climbing) they can push their messages (and offers) to on a daily basis, through Facebook alone, not to mention the additional brand awareness the company has managed to spread.
Some analysts have advised against businesses publicizing any political views, as to avoid alienating customers. It’s hard to say what kind of long-term effects this whole thing will have on Chick-fil-A’s brand, and how much it will ultimately affect the company’s bottom line. In the short-term, however, no matter how many people it has turned against it, the whole thing has clearly gotten people more interested in Chick-fil-A, and they’re selling a whole lot of Chicken. From my understanding, that’s their main goal.
Do you think businesses should publicize controversial views and risk alienating customers? Was Chick-fil-A smart to do so? Has the whole thing affected whether or not you will eat at the restaurant? Let us know in the comments.
About Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Is Facebook Tracking Everywhere You Go Online?

Logging out doesn't seem to help, says one writer:
by Josh Wolford | September 26, 2011 @ 4:06pm

Is it possible that Facebook is tracking your web browsing activity, even when you are logged out?

According to Australian hacker and writer Nik Cubrilovic, Facebook could know that you are reading this article, simply because we, like most sites nowadays, have a Facebook share button.

Cubrilovic ran a little test involving cookies and found that logging out of Facebook does not mean that Facebook can’t still know every page you visit on the same browser.

Is it possible to be both private and social? Is privacy a long lost cause because of social networking like Facebook? Let us know what you think.

On his blog post on Sunday, he shows what cookies are sent during a logged-in Facebook user’s visit to compared to a logged-out user’s visit to Logging out is apparently supposed to prompt the deletion of certain identifiers, but that doesn’t happen, says Cubrilovic.

    The primary cookies that identify me as a user are still there (act is my account number), even though I am looking at a logged out page. Logged out requests still send nine different cookies, including the most important cookies that identify you as a user

    This is not what ‘logout’ is supposed to mean – Facebook are only altering the state of the cookies instead of removing all of them when a user logs out.

This means that whenever you visit a page online that has a Facebook share button, like button or any other related widget, all of this pertinent information is being sent to Facebook. That’s how they can know where you are going on the web.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone. It’s right there in the Facebook Privacy terms -

    We receive data whenever you visit a game, application, or website that uses Facebook Platform or visit a site with a Facebook feature (such as a social plugin). This may include the date and time you visit the site; the web address, or URL, you’re on; technical information about the IP address, browser and the operating system you use; and, if you are logged in to Facebook, your User ID.

But the revelation here is that this information is available even when you are logged out, as the cookie experiment notes. And people might wonder what all of this data does for Facebook -

    The advice is to log out of Facebook. But logging out of Facebook only de-authorizes your browser from the web application, a number of cookies (including your account number) are still sent along to all requests to Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.

Apparently, Cubrilovic has been sitting on this information for a while, and has reached out to Facebook without any substantial response. He says that he was prompted to share this information due to the renewed privacy discussions happening across the internet regarding all of Facebook’s upcoming Open Graph changes and “frictionless sharing.”

That “frictionless sharing” phrase is one that Mark Zuckerberg used quite a bit in his f8 keynote. He explained that it meant users can share their activities across the web to Facebook without having to really think about it. The melding of Facebook and everything else, per say.

Some have privacy concerns, fearing that since applications will be allowed to post things to Facebook regarding your actions without explicit opt-in authorization, users might share stuff on Facebook that they really don’t want to share.

ZDNet has obtained a response from Facebook. They explicitly state that Facebook does not track users’ web activity. They also explain the purpose of logged out cookies -

    Facebook does not track users across the web. Instead, we use cookies on social plugins to personalize content (e.g. Show you what your friends liked), to help maintain and improve what we do (e.g. Measure click-through rate), or for safety and security (e.g. Keeping underage kids from trying to signup with a different age). No information we receive when you see a social plugins is used to target ads, we delete or anonymize this information within 90 days, and we never sell your information.

    Specific to logged out cookies, they are used for safety and protection, including identifying spammers and phishers, detecting when somebody unauthorized is trying to access your account, helping you get back into your account if you get hacked, disabling registration for a under-age users who try to re-register with a different birthdate, powering account security features such as 2nd factor login approvals and notification, and identifying shared computers to discourage the use of ‘keep me logged in’.

Facebook has responded in an additional way as well. As of today, the so called “a_user” cookie, the one which contains the user’s ID, is now destroyed upon logging out. Facebook said that “there is a bug where a_user was not cleared on logout, we will be fixing that today.”

Cubrilovic has updated his blog to discuss this change. He still warns about privacy, saying that the remaining post-logout cookies will still be there, and as a Facebook user, you just have to trust that they are using them for what they say they are using them for (see above).

    Facebook has changed as much as they can change with the logout issue. They want to retain the ability to track browsers after logout for safety and spam purposes, and they want to be able to log page requests for performance reasons etc. I would still recommend that users clear cookies or use a separate browser, though. I believe Facebook when they describe what these cookies are used for, but that is not a reason to be complacent on privacy issues and to take initiative in remaining safe.

In a nutshell, Facebook still has access to information about you when you logout. They give their specific reasons for keeping specific cookies active – mainly security and protection. I guess it’s up to Facebook users to decide if this explanation is understandable, or if measures like Cubrilovic suggests need to be taken – specifically wiping all cookies or using different browsers.

Privacy concerns and Facebook are the peanut butter and jelly of the social networking world, but it sure doesn’t seem to be hurting business.

What do you think? Is Facebook’s explanation satisfactory? Do you worry about your privacy as a Facebook user? Let us know in the comments.

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