Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

Does Your Twitter Bio’s Disclaimer Actually Accomplish Anything?

January 14, 2012 1 comment

Hello My Name Is tag angle

I have seen it time and time again on Twitter in people’s bios. They are all attempting to cover their butts and say that the things they tweet are their own and personal and nothing to do with their work. I hate to say it and burst many people’s bubbles but you’re wasting a bunch of the 160 characters that Twitter gives you to write your bio.

The BBC published an article about a court ruling early in 2011 that a woman claiming she had a reasonable expectation of privacy and that her tweets were not for public consumption (except those who followed her) was wrong.

I have asked people who are labor lawyers (in Canada) if such a disclaimer would actually protect someone if they said something objectionable on Twitter and the consensus has been a resounding no. I am not a lawyer and as far as I know this exact case has never been adjudicated in Canada but I have been told such a disclaimer would be completely useless. As long as you are employed somewhere you are going to be affiliated with your employer. Your views, no matter how personal you think they are, when you express them in public they become public and a part of your online identity. If that identity includes any link to your employer – or if your employer knows about your Twitter account – then I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it won’t matter when your boss calls you into their office if you have that disclaimer up. It won’t make it any harder for them to fire you. It is about as legally effective as the coat check sign which insists they aren’t responsible for your items when you leave them with the coat check – they are and you are. I have yet to hear of a case where someone wrote something objectionable online and they were given a pass by their employer because they had that disclaimer up.

Facebook Friendship Doesn’t Opt Me In To Your Email List! Online Etiquette For The 21st Century

December 20, 2011 2 comments

I met a person in late April of 2010 (as evidence by the confirmation email of our friend status on Facebook still archived in my account) and have seen him once or twice since then but – as many of you already know – being a Facebook friend doesn’t mean you’re necessarily “real” friends. He added me to LinkedIn in May of this year and a couple of days after I accepted his invitation to connect I got an email from him with the subject: “Introduction to Real Estate.”

I had never given this guy my email address (aside from it being listed on LinkedIn and Facebook) and the email he sent was unsolicited and was all about how he was beginning a business as a ‘Real Estate Sales Representative.’ Great for him but I was confused as to how I had been added to his list of people to send the announcement to. I emailed him back and had the conversation you see below:

Note: The only changes I have made were to remove identifying information.

His reply to my final email as you see above was to explain to me how he did it. He either didn’t get how perturbed I was (read between the lines dude!) or didn’t care. I wasn’t happy about the whole thing but let it go after that because it didn’t seem worth fighting over and being a jerk about. I assumed I was not the only one who had the nerve to call him out on spamming people. I also, quite obviously, opted out of receiving further emails from him.

When he joined Twitter a month later – in June – he started following me. I gladly gave him some advice on how to be more effective for his business on Twitter thinking that helping him would mean he was less likely to be spamming people. I told him to first and foremost change the default profile picture which he did pretty quickly and then mentioned a couple of other things which seem pretty obvious to the average person who spends a lot of time on Twitter and the social web but may not be to others.

Then the night of December 12th I had another conversation with Lani. The conversation you see below is one that actually happened and is unedited. When reading it remember that I was half asleep as it began at 12:45am and that this wasn’t the first time that I had dealt with him and was already quite wary of the way he conducted himself online…remember I had also been following him on Twitter for half a year and saw him pretty much ignore all of my suggestions.

Conversation with a Facebook & Email Spammer

The full conversation, the only edit I have made is to white out his name.

If you read the beginning of our conversation you’ll see I was being as noncommittal as possible. I tried to avoid the issue giving brief sort of funny smart aleck answers to his questioning and he should have just left it at that. If someone isn’t at all interested in the conversation how far do you keep pushing? After I could see he wasn’t getting it I just straight up called him as I saw him – a spammer. I also sort of saw it as my right once he called me a ‘guru’ which I don’t think I am but if he was going to call me a guru which meant he considered me a master and leader and teacher I was going to do my duty to him and teach him. Sure I could have sugar-coated it but he clearly hadn’t gotten it before when I had tried to do that via our email exchange so this time I had had enough.

Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities 5.7 highlighted

Oh, after this exchange he decided to unfriend me on Facebook. Sure, I was rude but was I in the right? I totally think so. What he had done with his email stunt was actually illegal according to Facebook’s rules. As you can see above, Facebook has very specific rules for people using Facebook and for protecting its user’s rights. The Facebook “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” says that “[i]f you collect information from users, you will: obtain their consent, make it clear you (and not Facebook) are the one collecting their information, and post a privacy policy explaining what information you collect and how you will use it.” Lani’s entire argument for how he was

I know this was a long preamble but it brings me to a few points of etiquette that everyone should already be aware of but it seems they are not:

  • If I hand you a business card that does not mean I am opting in for your email list. It means I want you to have my email and for you to personally be able to get in touch with me.
  • Facebook friendship does not mean I have opted in to your email list.
  • The fact that you have an opt-out option in your email list is irrelevant. Those listed have to have opted-in to your list in some way before you can send that first email. Even if it wasn’t a direct violation of Facebook’s rules and what is legal and illegal in Canada and the USA (according to privacy laws) it is an extreme breach of trust given to you when I friended you on Facebook.
  • You are not Jean Valjean (aka 24601) and the fact that this is your livelihood you are breaking the law for does not make it OK to break the law and breach people’s trust by misusing their information. By that logic we should be doing nothing to stop spammers and hackers because it is their livelihood to do malicious things on the internet (OK, some of them are just jerks but you get the point).

Also, don’t call someone a guru if you don’t darn well mean it. I don’t think I am a guru, I think I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the knowledge I would need to amass before I could even hope to meet with a guru and be able to have an intelligent conversation with them beyond the words “Hello, my name is Dan.” BUT as I said above, if you submit yourself to my teachings by calling me a guru don’t get insulted when you don’t like what you hear. I call them as I see them and give people straight answers.

When people comment on this blog and when I comment on other people’s blogs (usually requiring an email address to be entered) I don’t expect to be added to mailing list. How many blogs have you seen which go out of their way to assure you that they take your privacy very seriously when you give them your email address, there’s a reason for that.

Do you have anything to add to this? Have things like this ever happened to you? Think I was too harsh on him in our Facebook conversation? Let me know!

 Sketched Mailbox with ‘@’ symbol aka MC900341788 via Microsoft Office

Facebook “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.” You can find the full text here.

Dear @GetGlue & @Foursquare When I Check-In, Respect My Privacy!

September 29, 2011 4 comments

As many of you know I am a fan of the check-in social networks such as Foursquare (where I am a Level 2 Super User). I check-in to GetGlue on a regular basis for shows and movies and more and I have ordered my stickers more than once to be sent to me in real life.


However, one of the issues I have with these sites is they seem to lack respect for our privacy in some of the simplest ways. The services all ask you when you check-in what other social media services you’d like to post your activity to – such as Twitter or Facebook. (This, of course, assumes you’ve connected the accounts to each of the check-in services.) The problem with privacy occurs when I uncheck those boxes asking if I want to share to Facebook and/or Twitter. Often times, GetGlue and Foursquare just straight up don’t listen.

Now, I don’t mean the actual check-in itself is sent to the various social networks but it is often the case that things within the GetGlue or Foursquare ecosystem as a result of your check-in are posted directly to Facebook or Twitter without your consent. Read more…

A Google Plus Tip Regarding Circles & Google Talk

July 13, 2011 2 comments


UPDATE July 28, 2011: 

Unfortunately, it seems that Google has changed the options menus within Google+ so the method described below no longer works. Thank you to Sveinbjörn for pointing this out in the comments (bel0w). I am going to do my utmost to figure out how to accomplish the limiting of certain Google+ Circles seeing you in Google Talk. Because the service is still technically in “Field Trial” mode I suppose changes such as this are going to be happening as Google plays with the environment of Google+ on a day-to-day basis before the hard launch.


Google Talk – also known as Gmail Chat and Google Chat – is an integrated part of the brand new Google social networking service currently in an invite-only “field testing” phase called Google+ aka Google Plus (which is how it’s read). The way the service works in terms of maintaining your privacy and making it easy to share posts and information is by using “Circles.” Now, one of the things I noticed when I started using Google+ and Circles was that suddenly people from some of my Circles were appearing in my Google Talk list (within Gmail and within Google+). This was slightly disconcerting because as far as I knew none of these people knew my main email address so I was wondering how the heck they got on my Google Talk list. Turns out, the answer was within the Google Talk settings in Google+. Read on to find out how you too can change these settings to your liking.

Note: These settings can ONLY be changed in Google+ as of the time of this writing. You cannot change these settings from within Gmail. I have yet to test it with the actual Google Talk PC application but I would imagine it would be the same as the Gmail access. Read more…

FREE App! …Just Give Us Your Credit Card Info First

May 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday, I saw that Social Times did a quick review of an app called Tweetcaster Pro for Android which was available for free (usually it is $4.99) via the Amazon Appstore. It seems that every day the Amazon Appstore offers a people who use their Appstore – which is different from the Android Market. That’s really awesome, in my opinion, that is until I ran into a roadblock. This was a roadblock I have seen from other non-major app stores before too; they ask for my credit card info before they’ll allow me to check out and download the app.

Why, pray tell, do you need my credit card number and information for a free app Mr. App Store owner? Again, this is not something which is specific to Amazon’s app store it is just their store where I most recently encountered this issue. In my opinion if you are going to offer a deal such as this get the mechanics of it right. Offer people who “buy” the free app a coupon code, for example, this way when it comes time to put payment information in for checkout we have something to enter that doesn’t require us giving you personal info you wouldn’t be otherwise entitled to for a free item.

This is just my $0.02 on the matter, maybe some of you out there disagree with me but I think most would agree. Feel free and encouraged to weigh in I’m the comments.

Bad: Your Whole School Sees Your Name Posted On Failing Students List, Worse: Your Father Goes On TV & Tells The World You’re On That List

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

There is a recent story out of Wisconsin (link) concerning a principal of a middle school. This principal decided to post the names and classes of all failing students in the school with the notation that they would not be allowed to go to a school dance unless their marks are brought up above the failing line. Apparently this is a violation of the privacy laws in the USA and I am not here to debate the validity of the principal’s methods for attempting to get the kids in his school to become better students. What I am amused about is the actions of a gentleman named James Krier.

It seems that Mr Krier’s daughter is one of the students whose name is on that list. Rather than speak to the media anonymously Mr Krier has instead decided the right thing to do is speak directly to the news media. Mr Krier was quoted in the above linked article as saying:

“Their name, class and the F by it. It showed the F grade. I was pretty distraught when I got there I took a picture of it,” said parent James Krier. His daughter is one of a hundred names on the F-list posted for the entire school to see. “She couldn’t believe it that she was on that list she was upset.”

So Mr Krier, let me understand your logic. Your daughter was embarrassed that her middle school peers in a central Wisconsin town with a population of approximately 20,000 knew that she was failing. Seeing her embarrassment you decided the best way to rectify the situation was to make your family name in connection with this news story INTERNATIONAL? It wasn’t enough that your daughter had some local embarrassment for failing classes in middle school? You had to make sure that everyone in the world would have access to the information! Not only that, but you even did a video interview so in case someone didn’t recognize your name they would know your face! You can check out the video @

Good job Mr. Krier! You really showed that principal a thing or two about embarrassing your daughter!
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