Facebook Planning to Hand Over Your Home Address, Phone Number to Other Sites

Facebook has always walked a fine line when it comes to user’s privacy and how much user information they should or shouldn’t share. Last month Facebook announced on their developer’s blog that, as part of granting an application to access your data, it would also include your home address and your telephone number.

After a major uproar amongst Twitter users and a joint letter from U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) asking what Facebook was planning on doing with this information and exactly how transparent it would be to users what personal information was being shared.

“Facebook needs to protect the personal information of its users to ensure that Facebook doesn’t become Phonebook,” said Rep. Markey. “That’s why I am requesting responses to these questions to better understand Facebook’s practices regarding possible access to users’ personal information by third parties. This is sensitive data and needs to be protected.”

“Facebook’s popularity has made it a leader in innovation and we hope they will also be a leader in privacy protection,” said Rep. Barton. “The computer – especially with sites like Facebook – is now a virtual front door to your house allowing people access to your personal information. You deserve to look through the peep hole and decide who you are letting in.”

This gave Facebook reason to pause but apparently not for very long.

Facebook’s Marne Levine, vice president of global public policy responded to the letter saying, “We expect that, once the feature is re-enabled, Facebook will again permit users to authorize applications to obtain their contact information. However, we are currently evaluating methods to further enhance user control in this area.”

Normally my rule of thumb is don’t put anything on the internet that you don’t want the entire world to potentially see. Facebook managed to skew that view a bit since I do list a lot more personal information there because I know that friends and family will be able to access when/if they need to.

I’m not saying I’m totally against this idea but I do think Facebook needs to tread lightly here. One of the things I don’t like about their current “request for permission” is that it’s all or nothing. Users need to be able to control this on a more minuscule level. Using the example from the screenshot above you have to either allow or not allow both segments of your profile.

There are times when I don’t mind allowing third-party sites to access my “basic” information or to be able to post updates to my wall should I choose, however, I may not want those same sites to have access to my home address and phone number and I think this is where Facebook is dropping the ball. Give us the ability to pick and choose what information an application is requesting, don’t make it an all or nothing proposition.

What do you think? Are you OK with Facebook sharing your home address and phone number with external sites?


Three Easy Ways to Backup Your Gmail to Avoid Potential Data Loss

You’ve probably already heard about a number of Gmail users logging into their account yesterday only to find out that all of their mail and labels had vanished. Gmail says that something happened that caused those user’s accounts to be switched back to new accounts.

According to their status blog only 0.02% of users were affected and as of now most of those accounts have been restored, presumably with all of their lost data back in place. Google says it hopes to have the remaining 0.013% accounts up and running in within the next 12 hours.

Still, this should be a wakeup call to all users. No matter what web-based email client you use it’s never a bad idea to have your emails backed up in another place just to be safe. For the purposes of this post we’ll just focus on backing up Gmail.

Backing Up Gmail to Another Web-Based Email Account

Forwarding your email with Gmail to another account is free and easy to setup. Go into your Gmail settings and click on the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab.

Enter the address you want to forward your mail to, you can choose any email address you like, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail or even another Gmail address, although for the purposes of backing up your emails using a different provider is probably wise. Gmail will send an email to the address you chose to forward to with a code to enter in order to confirm that you actually own the address. Once the address is verified you can add that address and all future emails will be forwarded along. If you’re using this strictly for backup, in the dropdown next to it keep the original copy in your inbox.

Backing Up Gmail to a Desktop Client

There are a number of desktop clients out there that work great but aren’t that great for backing up your files offline. As far as I know Postbox and Thunderbird do not offer this option. Outlook and Outlook Express however both offer “Auto Archive” features that will remove your messages from the server and store them offline.

The problem with using a client that doesn’t have this feature is that if Gmail (or any web-based email) does accidentally delete your emails and you’re using POP or IMAP to access them, they will also be deleted on your desktop client since it’s basically mirroring what is on the server. I could be wrong about this but I confirmed with Postbox and that is my understanding.

For the purposes of this post we’ll use Outlook. Go to File>Options>Advanced. You’ll see the “AutoArchive Settings” button there.

You can configure AutoArchive a number of ways including which folders to archive as well as how often they should be archived. Setting up this option will assure you that your mail is now permanently off the server and stored safely on your hard drive.

Backing Up Gmail Using a Cloud Service

This is the service that may cost you a little investment because not all levels of the service are free. I recommend a service like Backupify which not only lets you backup your Gmail account but also any of your social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook or Picasa.

They offer a free level of service which includes weekly backups of all of your files however this level only includes 2GB of storage and if you’re a Gmail power user, chances are you have way more than 2GB in your gmail account. The next level up is only $4.99/mo and includes up to 20GB of storage plus 25 different social media platforms as well as nightly backups.

The bottom line is, regardless of what system you are using whether it’s cloud based or sitting on your hard drive you should alway make sure to have a backup of your data somewhere else. It’s one of those things that may seem silly until the one day you’re actually confronted with the loss of all of your data. Trust me, you’ll be glad you have the backup.

What sort of backup plans do you have to make sure your online data is safe?

Living Social Gets Great Deal by Promoting Academy Award Tweets Day After Academy Awards

I was online most of last night during the Academy Awards and I am pretty positive these Tweets weren’t live during the actual airing of the awards show.

I wonder if it’s like the day after Valentine’s Day when you can buy candy and flowers for half the price?

Tom Hanks Enters His Daughter into the Miss Ultimate Sexy Baby Contest

Tom Hanks appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Show after the Academy Awards tonight and confessed to “encouraging” his daughter to be involved with the showbiz.

Video from 1981 Talking About the Future of Newspapers on the Internet

At the time of this “experiment” only eight newspapers were participating.

In order to access it you had to use a rotary phone to dial into a number then place the phone on your modem to allow the information to begin the transfer which took over two hours to receive the entire text of the newspaper.

Bonus? The guy they interviewed that was taking advantage of this new fangled technology wasn’t some kid from Stanford, he looks to be in his sixties and eager to embrace this new, cutting edge technology.

Columbia Professor Postulates Facebook Will be Leading Online Site to Find Hookers by End of 2011

Playboy model Anissa Holmes (not a hooker)

A Columbia University professor of Sociology studied the habits of 290 hookers in New York City and found that an incredible high majority of them use Facebook to attract new clients.

Apparently hookers (or is the PC term sex workers?) have been floating in a sort of limbo since Craigslist shut down it’s erotic services section back in 2008.

After studying the habits of 290 sex workers, Sudhir Venkatesh found that 83% rely on Facebook to lure johns.

“I estimate that by the end of 2011, Facebook will be the leading online recruitment space,” Venkatesh wrote in the February issue of Wired magazine.

It’ll be interesting to see what sort of fallout comes from this report. Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster were still taking plenty of heat from the media two years after they officially shut down the erotic services section.

How to Download mp3 Files from YouTube

If you’ve ever wanted to be able to strip out just the audio from a YouTube video and convert it into an mp3 file to listen to or share then you definitely need to check out the Free YouTube to mp3 Converter.

I co-host a weekly talk radio show on Blog Talk Radio and there’s often times when I find myself wanting to be able to share something relevant I found on YouTube but I’ve never been able to figure out an easy way to get to just the audio so I can upload it and share it with our listeners.

You can download it from cnet here. One thing to be careful of while you’re installing it is that it does ask you whether or not you want to install some toolbars so don’t just go blindly clicking the “next” button. Once you get to the second or third screen of the install just uncheck anything you don’t want installed and your installation will continue without any of the extra add-ons.