Facebook Sucks

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Facebook log (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I posted the text below to my Facebook account yesterday. I don’t think it requires any more comment from me but I thought you might like to read it.
This long status update is by way of goodbye.

I have decided to (at least temporarily) close my Facebook account. I’m also not going to be tweeting or using LinkedIn.

I will be posting to my blog.

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Privacy? Not Here!

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Image via CrunchBase

Today’s Daily Prompt: “How do you manage your online privacy? Are there certain things you won’t post in certain places? Information you’ll never share online? Or do you assume information about you is accessible anyway?”

Online privacy is a huge issue. We are now putting huge amounts of personal information online.

Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Foursquare and our blogs it is possible to obtain a great deal of information about people.

Try an experiment, search Google for “honestpuck”. You will find this blog, my profile on Slashdot, Flickr account, Twitter account, Instagram account, App.net account and my Facebook account – and that’s only the first two pages. Just to confuse the issue you will find things like a DeviantArt account that isn’t mine. To really get in to some hard core data mining about me try a Google search for “honestpuck Tony Williams”.

I’ve been online for a long time. I used to assist in running a BBS back in the eighties and nineties, in the early nineties I ran the Australia forum on CompuServe. I’ve had a self-hosted blog as well as trying out Tumblr and Blogger before settling down here on WordPress. I’ve also written a lot of reviews for Slashdot and Amazon.

Given all that I’ve long ago accepted that anything I write or post on the net, no matter how obscure the website, is there for all to read.

Privacy of writing does not exist on the net. Anyone that tells you different is attempting to fool you.

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A Little Bit Free

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Post asks “Facebook has recently come under attack for failing to enforce its own guidelines on hate speech and violent imagery. Is it a website’s job to moderate the content its users post, or should users have complete freedom?”

This is an interesting question, perhaps it comes down to the question of exactly what Facebook is providing.

We settled this question for the telephone company and your internet provider years ago — they are a carriage service and can’t be held responsible for the information they carry.

We also seem to have settled it when it comes to your web page. You’re responsible for your web page. There is also an expectation that you will control what other people post to your web page.

How about something half way between those. What about right here? WordPress.com says it “is an internet service provider. We are based in the US, as are all of our servers. As such we are covered by section 230(c) of the US Communications Decency Act which states that internet service providers are not held liable for content (such as allegedly defamatory, offensive, inaccurate, or harassing content) that is posted on the sites they host for their users.”

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Building A Useful Mini-Feed – FriendFeed

If you followed the advice in my previous article then your Mini-Feed might be looking a little empty, it appears not much is happening. Now we will start to get a good flow of information into the feed using another online tool – FriendFeed.

FriendFeed is a little like twitter, it allows people who want to know what you are doing to ‘follow’ your FriendFeed. The power it has over twitter is that it can be set up to automatically add items to your feed when you do things on other sites.

Like twitter FriendFeed has a Facebook application and this application adds items to your Mini-Feed. This is where the real power lies. Before you get a FriendFeed account let’s make sure we have some things to easily add to the Feed.

If you check on FriendFeed you will discover that you can automatically import items if you add a photo to Flickr or Picasa, post a video to YouTube, add an item to your Amazon wishlist and even when you post to Tumblr, Blogger or another blog. I suggest you play around with all of these and see which suits you best.

Adding to your FriendFeed

The first thing we want is a way to easily add interesting stories we see online. I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is to read all my websites via RSS using Google Reader. Then underneath each item is a link “Share with note”. Click on this and a dialog open allowing you to enter a personal note which will appear with the item you’re sharing in Google Reader. Google Reader is a good online RSS reader. Once you have an account you can get a button for your bookmark bar (this is called a ‘bookmarklet’) that will allow you to go to your favourite blogs and quickly subscribe to them in Google Reader.

For more important things you see you might want to create a more detailed note talking about the webpage. For these I use Tumblr. Tumblr is another micro-blogging system that allows you to quickly add a post to your feed. You can get a bookmarklet for it, too. When you are on a web page you think your readers might like click on the Tumblr bookmarklet and a dialog open alowing you to write a description and tell your readers why they might want to see the item.

Adding links

To add links to web pages to our FriendFeed there are several methods. If you use an online bookmark manager such as del.icio.us then any bookmarks you add can go to your FriendFeed. You can also get a “Share..” bookmarklet for Google Reader that allows you to produce a note with the URL in your Google Reader shared items. I’ve found that using delicious is best for links as the description you add flows through to your FriendFeed while for Tumblr and Reader posts only the post title goes through. I have to admit to being an avid delicious user due to its tight integration with Firefox (it has an excellent plugin) and the ability to view my bookmarks from any computer.

For long articles the easiest thing to do is get yourself an account at Blogger and have a good quality, free hosted blog. It’s quickly set up and you can run advertising, tailor the look and FriendFeed will easily pick up your new posts.

Once you have a good flow of information into your FriendFeed then add the FriendFeed application to your Facebook account and it will keep a steady flow of interesting things to your Mini-Feed. Once people recognise the value of the information in your Mini-Feed they are much more likely to watch your Mini-Feed, FriendFeed or (hopefully) your blog.

Remembering those URLs and typing faster

While waiting for me to finish editing my next “big” post here’s a quick tip for you.

Do you use a text shortcut utility? “What’s that?” I hear some of you ask.

It’s a utility that allows you to automatically enter short pieces of text, either by replacing something you type or with a hot key such as CTRL-ALT-d. On my Mac I use an excellent, inexpensive one called “Text Expander”. (If you know of a good one for Windows users then please add a comment below or drop me a note.)
This means that instead of having to remember and type http://honestpuck.blogspot.com/ I just type ‘.b’ and Text Expander replaces it with the text. Even better when I type ‘.g’ it gets replaced by that even longer and more difficult http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=26489942856 which (as you all know [grin]) is the URL for my Facebook group “Facebook-Internet Synergy.”
It gets even better. I also have text snippets I use for that “personal” message when asking someone to be your friend, when I make an introductory post to someone’s wall and a number of other uses. They all have a couple of spots with “****” in them, this is my own way of marking parts of a text snippet I might want to replace with something personal.
On my Mac I don’t even need to remember the abbreviations, Text Expander puts a menu in my menu bar.

How to twitter for Facebook networkers

A few people have shown some confusion about how to set everything up to get the best from twitter as a Facebook social networker. Since I am a self-confessed nerd I thought I’d explain.

First, you’ll need a twitter account. Go to twitter and sign up for an account. Now you can find your friends and sign up to “follow” them. This means that when they send a twitter message, sometimes called a “tweet”, you will see it on your twitter page. If they follow you they will get your tweets.

Next we need a way to update our Facebook status when we send a tweet. The twitter people have written an application to do this but every time it updates your FB status it puts “is twittering” before te tweet. The application twittersync does not do this so I prefer to use it instead. Add this application and give it some details and it will read your twitter feed and update your FB status within a minute or two.

Advanced Twitter Setup

Next we’ll return to the twitter page and set up some advanced things. Go back to twitter and click on “Settings” in the top right of the window. You will be on the “Account” pane of Settings so fill in the information about where you live and your time zone etc.

Now click on the “Picture” tab and upload a small picture of yourself. The one you use on Facebook would be perfect. Next click on “Devices” where we will set up twitter via SMS. This pane has two sections, one about Instant Messaging which we can ignore and the other devoted to your mobile phone. You enter your mobile number and you will be asked to send an SMS with a code to twitter to confirm your number. Send off the SMS and quickly a reply will come back to say you’re number is confirmed. Save the phone number in the address book of your phone – now when you send an SMS to this number it will send a tweet and automatically update your FB status.

Viewing Your Twitter Page

When you start following a number of people you will need an easy way to get the information. If you also follow a number of websites and read newspapers online you will be spending too much of your time going from site to site checking. The way to get over this is to use an RSS reader, sometimes called a feed reader or news reader. You can even read your twitter page via RSS, you will find the address to use in your RSS reader down the bottom of your twitter home page labelled “RSS”. I’m going to recommend you use Google Reader – an online RSS reader from Google. Get yourself a Google Mail account and start using Google Reader – I’ll explain the powerful benefits of using Google Reader in another post.

My Facebook profile : http://profile.to/tonywilliams/
My twitter feed: http://twitter.com/honestpuck