Posts tagged Foursquare

How Much Privacy Do You Have?

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You are here

What does privacy mean in an age where so many of us share everything in public? If you don’t want everyone to know everything, here are a few things to take a look at:

Geolocating and photos

First, check your camera. As this Webroot post explains, newer cameras include geolocation info in the metadata. If you don’t want people to know where you are, turn that feature off. And if you’ve got a smartphone, for these purposes I’m including that in the category “camera.”

Privacy settings

You’ve probably seen your Facebook friends (including me, if you’re friends with me) post status updates about changes to privacy settings. Go look at them again and make sure that what you share is going only to those people you want to see it. In the upper right-hand corner, you’ll see “Account” with a drop-down arrow. Select “Account Settings” and then go through each of the categories on the left to make sure that you’ve properly limited access to your account. Remember to remove apps you’re not using. Then go back to that drop-down menu and select “Privacy Settings.” If it seems like you’re repeating yourself, that’s okay–it’s good to be thorough. Do this on other sites you use, too. The organization may be a little different, but the overall issue is constant.

Search

One of the circles on Google+ is “Public.” I think it might behoove Google to come up with another label for that circle, because any time you choose “Public” rather than “Friends” or “Acquaintances” or “People who also have lhasa apsos” (or whatever circle names you’ve invented), that post is going to wind up searchable via Google’s main page. What happens in Google+ may not stay in Google+, so don’t select “Public” unless you’re okay with the whole world seeing it. Because they just might.

Your whereabouts

Geolocation games and services like foursquare and SCVNGR can be a lot of fun, but pay attention to who knows where you are. It’s not that hard to track someone’s movements throughout the day. When that’s not just a pattern but real-time, it’s worth thinking about how much of that you really want to share, and with whom. Remember that kid in junior high who you thought was your friend, but turned out to be the jerk who stole things out of your backpack? Chances are good that many of us still have one of those friends–we just haven’t realized it yet. And do you know everyone they know? It’s not paranoid to keep in mind that you don’t actually know everything about everyone–so why does everyone need to know everything about you?

Start with the idea that it’s possible for people to find you and your words and photos. And then consider how much you want to hand to them directly. It’s a personal choice–just make an informed one.

Photo by Quasimondo, via Flickr.

There’s No Excuse for Legalese

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How many times have you clicked “yes” on a user agreement without reading it? Pretty much every time, right?

No one is reading them. The result is that we don’t really know what we’re agreeing to–but most of us are willing to take that risk. We don’t have time to read 67 pages of arcane text before we start using a site.

So, to all software developers/social media site managers/companies of all sizes and shapes: Stop writing them. It is not that hard. Give us the rules of the road, and let us move along. There’s no reason for user agreements to be written in a way that makes reading them onerous. Just because we live and work under an Anglo-American legal system (except for you, Louisiana, I know) doesn’t mean we should be writing documents in some Middle English/Latin hybrid. Henry II of England is not checking your policies, and if he were, he’d have no idea how to keep his status up to date on foursquare.*

So let’s all act like we live in this century, and write for our audiences. That includes our user agreements. It’s right there in the name of the document.

*Although now that I’ve written that sentence, I really want to create social media profiles for him, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their assorted dysfunctional children. And yes, I know Henry spoke French.

Keep It To Yourself: Share Your Opinions, Not Your Data

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You’ve probably seen more and more of your favorite sites moving to HTTPS. Sure, you’ve been careful to buy only from commercial sites that use the secure protocol, but why worry about it when you’re on Facebook?

Mashable has a great illustration of this–ignoring HTTPS is just like handing your laptop over to a random stranger and walking away. And more and more sites are recognizing this, and giving users the option to use HTTPS. foursquare recently moved everyone to HTTPS; they seem to be very aware that their service, while “opt-in,” does raise privacy and security concerns for some of their users.

Facebook provides an example of why making the switch isn’t always that simple a decision. While you can switch to HTTPS for your profile and pages, some of your apps (including those all-important games!) may not work afterward.

It’s not foolproof, and there are new tactics in the works–but it’s an important start. Have you made the switch?

Photo by Digiart 2001 | jason.kuffer, via Flickr.

Why Every Organization Needs a Social Media Plan

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Urban Outfitters is in the middle of a controversy, and it’s trending on Twitter. The company is accused of copying an independent jewelry designer’s creations, and people have taken to the Interwebs about it.

Urban Outfitters is also on Twitter, but so far they haven’t responded to the issue there. And they should.

There are plenty of examples of companies who responded well and poorly to crises playing out over social media. At this point, there’s really no excuse for failing to respond. If there’s a conversation going on, you need to be part of it. And you need to be part of it where it’s happening.

Do you work for an organization? Does your organization have a social media plan? If not, start working on one now. And remember, just because you’re not on a social media site doesn’t mean your customers aren’t. You need to be looking as broadly as possible.

Here are a few questions to get you started on your plan:

1) Who is our audience?
2) How do they use social media?
3) What monitoring tools are available to us?
4) How do we respond to common topics and issues that arise in our existing communications?
5) How can we adapt those to different kinds of social media sites?

Just as your approach to each site should be different, your method of responding to criticism or praise should depend on what site you’re using. Twitter is not Facebook is not YouTube is not Foursquare.

Learn. Think. Prepare.

You can’t anticipate everything, but the more you’ve done in advance, the better off you’ll be when the surprise comes. What’s stopping you?

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