Tag Archives: Facebook

The FoxNews / Facebook spectacle

Foxnews Republican debate commentatorsWhy did the three moderators of Thursday night’s presentation by FoxNews and Facebook of the first 2016 Republican debate (if you can call it that) go for Donald Trump’s throat?


My guess is that, like most Silicon Valley magnates, Mark Zuckerberg (founder and chairman of Facebook) views a Donald Trump presidency as a threat to Facebook’s cozy deal for H-1B visas. He, together with Bill Gates, Sergei Brin, Larry Page, et al, wishes to continue to drive down the wages of tech workers. Not only is Donald Trump Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare, he’s the worst nightmare for Zuckerman, Gates, et al.

(Discussion of the H1-B visa scam)

Trump has pledged to bring jobs back to America, for Americans.

A pox on both your houses

It’s easy to understand why Republicans favor legal (and illegal) immigration and work visas: they like cheap labor. (Democrats favor illegal immigration because they like their votes.)


I’m not sure which dog Rupert Murdoch and son (owners of FoxNews) have in this fight. I guess it may be because they receive major advertising income through Karl Rove’s traditional Republican buddies. The Murdochs see Trump as a threat to Fox’s juicy revenue stream.

It was clear that Fox’s Megyn Kelly, Chris Matthews, and Bret Baier were following marching orders to trash Mr. Trump. (It’s ironic that he alone was the magnet that attracted 24 million viewers.)

I thought that Mr. Trump handily dodged their bullets and returned fire just fine. Good for him. Americans need jobs.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Facebook’s latest privacy breach

Facebook last week admitted that during the last year it has allowed the phone numbers and email addresses of about 6 million users to leak outside. MailOnline reports this in today’s article titled Facebook admits accidentally releasing phone numbers and email addresses for SIX MILLION users in year-long data breach.

thumbsdownSo, what else is new? We’re accustomed to Facebook privacy breaches. The new feature of this leak is that amongst the leaked data are data that you didn’t provide to Facebook. Yes, Facebook collects data about you from everywhere and stores them in your Facebook user record. Did you know that? For those unfortunate 6 million Facebook users, that data was also leaked.

Kaspersky offers good advice: What to Do if Facebook Leaked Your Data?

If you’re a Facebook user, this might be a good time to review Facebook’s Terms Of Service.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

One reason to avoid walled gardens

A new client’s business has a few bad reviews on his Google Places page. Some are over a year old. Surprisingly, he was unaware of them. Why? He lives within AOL’s walled garden. All his searches are done within AOL, so he never saw the negative reviews outside AOL’s walls. (I guess that someone else created his Google Places page.)

AOL is an anachronism, but the caveat of avoiding walled gardens applies if you use any site that tries to confine its users. Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, and Google+ are like Las Vegas casinos: they want to keep their visitors confined within territory that they control. Do you want Search? We’ve got it. Want email? We’ve got it. Want to buy something? We’ve got that too. Want a haircut? A shoeshine? A snack? A dinner? The casino — and AOL, Facebook, Linkedin, et al — wants every asset you’ve got.

On the Internet, the walled gardens want to extract everything they can from you, whether it’s your money or information about you, which they eventually sell to advertisers in exchange for targeted ads directed at you. That’s how they make money. A Facebook user exclaimed, “Facebook has never asked me for one dime!”. Of course not; he’s told Facebook all about himself. That information goes into Facebook’s finished goods inventory, which they sell to advertisers.

Think about it. When you’re on Facebook (or AOL et al), Facebook captures every keystroke and mouse click. Read their Terms Of Service (TOS); they can do whatever they wish with that data, including selling it to third parties.

If you’re a business owner, don’t be confined to any walled garden, and respond quickly to negative reviews, regardless of where they appear. A happy customer will tell a prospect; an unhappy customer will tell ten prospects. On the web, an unhappy customer can tell millions of prospects.

Has your business received negative reviews on Google Places?
Google Places is a work in progress whose features don’t always work as expected. (Google is moving Google Places pages to Google+ Local.) Here is the best advice that I’ve found. It’s from a Google employee: https://productforums.google.com/forum/m/#!category-topic/business/technical-issue/mPz5bqu7ViM.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Facebook quickly withdraws its stalker’s app

Facebook Friendshake screen
screenshot: facebook
Another reason why I’m glad I don’t have a Facebook account.


Months ago, Facebook acquired Glancee, a small company that had developed a smartphone app that used smartphones’ GPS information to locate people. Facebook renamed it Friendshake, while they tested it within their Facebook mobile apps. In June they renamed it “Find Friends Nearby” (FFN) and quietly rolled it out.

The FFN app was quickly dubbed “the stalker’s app” and within 10 days of release, Facebook withdrew it. You can see if it works or not by going to www.fb.com/ffn.

I’m surprised that Facebook and other social networks can change their games’ rules, as the games are being played. What sort of Terms Of Service (TOS) have Facebook users signed? Apparently it’s a carte blanche.

If you provide an online service, try to change your privacy policy. Most jurisdictions will require that all existing users first agree to the change. The U.S. is lax in its privacy protection, but the EU is strict. I won’t be surprised if they bring suit against Facebook over “Find Friends Nearby”.

Instagram instantly sells . . . itself.

instagram.com website
Polaroid 900 photo: Jean-Jacques MILAN
Instagram marries instant photography with the telegram.

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg recognizes a good social networking idea when he sees one, so Facebook recently paid a billion dollars to acquire Instagram. iPhone users can upload photos directly to Instagram, and choose to make them publicly available or share them with friends only. Instagram can polish and then distribute your photos to multiple image-sharing sites. It sounds like Facebook without words.

Instagram has helped share ideas across borders because no language translation is necessary. It’s only about 18 months old and has yet to make a profit, so its sale to Facebook represents an excellent ROI by its founders.

I’ve noticed, while watching people browse the web, that some people simply aren’t comfortable with words. They communicate best with images. They’ll love Instagram.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Facebook’s Timeline is a new way to expose yourself.

Exhibitionists will love Facebook’s new Timeline.

facebook website
Logo: Facebook

Facebook continues to skate on thin privacy ice. Until now, if you posted on Facebook, you posted contemporary information about yourself. Facebook just announced Timeline, which allows you to post your entire personal history as well.

This is great for Facebook. With personal history information from millions of Facebook users, Facebook will be able to charge even more money for access to that information. Facebook’s users won’t see one penny of that revenue.

What’s scarey is that when you place a “Visit my Facebook page” link, you’ll be inviting people to learn all about you.

What do I do with Facebook? Nothing. I don’t trust Facebook because of its continued lack of respect for user privacy. In fact, Facebook’s business model is built upon disrespect for personal privacy.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Facebook introduces “open data center”.

Facebook opens its data center design to encourage low cost copycats.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, noting that he developed Facebook’s software by using open-source software, has published Facebook’s newest data center design so that it can be copied by others. This new data center will open next month in rural Prineville, Orgeon.

MIT reports on the 147,000 square foot open design in two April 7 articles: Inside Facebook’s Not-So-Secret New Data Center and Facebook Opens Up Its Hardware Secrets.

It sounds like an innovative design. They run 3-phase 480/277 Volt electrical power directly to each server, to reduce step-down transformer losses. (This is very unconventional: I’ve never heard of it being done before.) They claim that each server’s power supply has an efficiency of 94%! They cool the servers by using prevailing winds and evaporative water cooling. (This is reminiscent of the whole-house coolers seen in relatively low-humidity Kansas.)

They use a power line reactor to condition incoming power and correct power factor. (This will lower utility costs.) Apparently there’s a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) using 48 VDC batteries, which are much better than 12 VDC batteries for each row of server racks. Lighting is provided by LEDs that are supplied by power over Ethernet. (I want to see this!)

Read about the ground-up data center design and construction in this Facebook engineering note. Be sure to watch the video. This is a startling statement: “The result is that our Prineville data center uses 38 percent less energy to do the same work as Facebook’s existing facilities, while costing 24 percent less.” This summarizes why opening your designs makes sense: “opening the technology means the community will make advances that we wouldn’t have discovered if we had kept it secret.

I applaud Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook. Microsoft, Google, and other data center owners jealously guard their data center details. (Occasionally, information leaks out. Read What exactly is inside a Google data center?) Mr. Zuckerberg points out that there’s no reason to be so secretive: Why not allow the world to benefit from your data center design innovations?

Share this design

A project to open data center design, opencompute.org, plans to open the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of data centers so that anyone may use those designs. (The site contains Facebook’s design specs in PDF files that may be downloaded.) I think that this is great. Let’s hope that this trend continues throughout the computing hardware AND software realms. I hope that proprietary accounting software will be replaced soon by open-source accounting software. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

Facebook’s Open compute servers

Above photos & notations: Lance Albertson

Facebook adds security features

Use Facebook more securely (in exchange for giving them more information about yourself).

Logo: Facebook.com

Facebook announces one time password security enhancement. I like this idea: when logging on to Facebook from a non-secure computer, use your cell phone to send a text message to Facebook, which will reply with a one-time use password (which will expire in 20 minutes). Even if someone does capture this password (via WiFi or a keylogger), it won’t work for them after 20 minutes.

The downside? Now you have provided Facebook with even more personal information. Read yesterday’s article subtitled “Facebook and other social network sites are exploiting people’s urge to share, says BT [British Telecom] security chief Schneier”. In the article, Schneier states, “Don’t think you are users of sites like Facebook. We’re Facebook’s product that they sell to their customers”.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695


Zuckerberg’s ownership of Facebook shares is challenged (again)

Photo: jdlasica

Web designer who employed Zuckerberg in 2003 claims that he owns 84% of Facebook

Paul Ceglia, who employed Mark Zuckerberg in 2003, claims that Mr. Zuckerberg, in writing, gave him rights to 84% of "The Face Book", which was a pet project that Zuckerberg was working on. Mr. Ceglia has filed suit in New York state court. He claims that he has a signed contract with Mr. Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg’s lawyers haven’t said whether such a contract exists or doesn’t exist.

Mr. Zuckerberg denies that he signed such a contract.

Previously, fellow Harvard classmates claimed that Zuckerberg appropriated code from the school’s ConnectU project. They settled out of court.

The most recent claim could prevent Facebook from going public, as the court has issued an injunction on trading of its shares. Facebook is now (foolishly) valued at over 24 billion dollars. (Does anyone want to buy a Dutch tulip?)

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg addresses privacy concerns (again)

Mark Zuckerberg announces easier privacy settings on Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, answered some of his critics in a Washington Post column on Monday. His article promises that in the near future, Facebook users will have easier and more complete control over their information. In the article, he states, "Here are the principles under which Facebook operates:

  • You have control over how your information is shared.
  • We do not share your personal information with people or services you don’t want.
  • We do not give advertisers access to your personal information.
  • We do not and never will sell any of your information to anyone.
  • We will always keep Facebook a free service for everyone."
  • Many industry observers don’t agree that Facebook has followed these principles. The Guardian’s review of Mr. Zuckerberg’s article sounds unconvinced. On Thursday, David Neal wrote a scathing article in The Inquirer titled Facebook Must Die.

    On Wednesday, Facebook announced that they were revising user privacy controls . . . to mixed reviews. Most of the criticism is aimed at the fact that any action should be required by the user to opt-out of revealing his data. Critics think that opting-out of sharing should be Facebook’s default privacy setting; if a user is not concerned with privacy, he should be required to opt-in to share his data with the public.

    Meanwhile, there’s a feature movie about Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook waiting in the wings. Directed by A-lister David Fincher and titled The Social Network, it’s scheduled for release this autumn. It will reportedly paint an unflattering picture of Mr. Zuckerberg.

    (Caricature by DonkeyHotey)

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    Facebook stutters and stumbles in reaction to privacy concerns

    Photo by Franco Bouly
    Facebook announces that it will, um . . . make an important announcement Real Soon Now.

    On Friday Facebook announced that it will do something to make its privacy policies easier to understand. According to this Wall Street Journal story, Facebook is undergoing internal dissent amongst its employees regarding its users’ privacy. It’s certainly facing attacks from outside: On May 7, Wired Magazine called for an Open alternative to Facebook. The European Commission says that it’s "’Unacceptable’ for social networking sites to make some profile information public by default".

    Facebook’s reaction to increasing criticism will have a major financial impact on its future:

  • Its advertisers will pay premium prices for targeted ads only if Facebook and its advertisers know as much as possible about each Facebook user.
  • I think that Facebook is headed toward an IPO. Its initial share price will be affected by negative publicity and users continuing to jump ship.
  • The hits just keep coming:

  • Emily Steel reports in the Wall Street Journal that Facebook has been violating its own privacy policy by giving users’ names to advertisers.
  • Silicon Valley Business Insider’s reports that Facebook’s founder, lovable Mark Zuckerberg, in an IM exchange, called Facebook users "dumb f*cks" for trusting him — 7 years ago when he was still a Harvard undergrad.
  • Epic.org has filed a complaint against Facebook with the US Federal Trade Commission, charging that Facebook has engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of consumer protection law.
  • Two unhappy Facebook users created a website called Quitfacebookday.com, on which they recommend that Facebook users quit en masse on 31 May.
  • Leo Laporte, who’s well known for his weekly podcasts and webcasts aimed at techies, restated this weekend that he’s happy that he quit Facebook last week. People in his chat room, filled with about 1000 visitors, responded that their Facebook messages about deleting their Facebook accounts had been mysteriously removed.
  • From Wikihow: How to quit Facebook

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    Facebook erodes its users’ privacy (again)

    Facebook’s losing users?


    Facebook did it again: it changed its privacy policy and defaulted all existing users to its lowest privacy settings. The EFF documented Facebook’s dwindling user privacy in an April article titled Facebook’s Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline.

    I don’t use Facebook and don’t recommend it. If you’re a Facebook user, have you read the Facebook Terms Of Service? Like Google (Gmail, Google Docs, etc), Facebook allows you to keep copyright to your material but asserts its right to do whatever it wishes with your material. Of course Facebook wishes to make money by selling your material to whoever wants it — most especially, businesses that want to sell their goods and services to you. (Facebook’s Terms of Service may differ for you if you are not in the United States.)

    If you are a Facebook user, you may want to check out the New York Times graphic and related article titled Facebook Privacy: A Bewildering Tangle of Options.

    J.D. Falk sums up the Facebook mess in his article Facebook, Privacy, and the Loss of Trust.

    Facebook hasn’t said how many users are deleting (or at least trying to delete) their accounts in reaction to their recent privacy downgrade. CNN Tech reports that at least some headliners are bailing: Some quitting Facebook as privacy concerns escalate.

    All this is more or less academic to me: as I said, I don’t use Facebook. In the interest of full disclosure, I must add that repairing damage done to Facebook users’ computers by the Koobface worm contributes to my income.

    Visit my website: http://russbellew.com



    Web-based threats continue to grow

    Bad guys love social networking sites.
    While listening to Sophos’ July 24th security update, I noticed that:
    • Social networking (My Space, Facebook, Twitter, et al) sites are favorite infection points for malware writers.
    • Most Facebook, My Space, and Twitter infections begin with a message from a friend with an invitation to view a video.
    • Facebook and My Space do not scan messages for infections or other malicious content. They must fix this.
    • Bad guys use social networking sites to gather information which helps them guess passwords and compromise users’ accounts on other sites.
    • Apple Macs are no longer “immune” to infections.
    • 70% of Macs have no antivirus software.
    • Social networks are forcing themselves into business networks, raising threat levels to those businesses. Businesses will need to secure their networks even more.
    • Sophos sees about 40,000 infected files per day and a new malicious webpage every 4 seconds.
    Download and listen to this security podcast: http://podcasts.sophos.com/en/sophos-podcast-041.mp3 (5.5 minutes)
    Read about the very real threat posed by Koobface. I know a woman whose bank accounts were debited following an infection that began on Facebook with a message from her husband that asked her to view a video. She was then asked to update her Flash player, which started the infection . . . About a month later, mysterious bank account debits appeared.
    View my website: http://russbellew.com

    Koobface worm threatens social networking users.

    Don’t click!
    If, while using Facebook, Myspace, or Friendster, you receive a message from a supposed friend with a subject such as "you look funny in this new video" or "is it u there?", delete the message wihout reading it.
    If you open the message and click on the video link, you’ll be taken to a Youtube-like site (which actually includes the word "youtube" in its domain name) which will tell you that your Flash player is out of date. If you click on the Download button, you’ll install the Koobface worm.  This worm installs itself on your computer and (1) searches your PC’s cookies for credit card data and (2) waits for you to purchase something online. Once the Koobface worm captures your credit card data it uploads your credit card data to the bad guy(s), and you’re sunk.
    Koobface takes advantage of the trusting nature of social networking sites’ users, who think that messages may be sent from bona fide friends only. (They’re wrong: infected computers propagate the worm to other Facebook users without permission of the computers’ owners.) The lesson? On the Internet, Trust no one.

    There are many Koobface variants. Facebook security recommends that you reset your Facebook password and scan your computer for viruses with an up to date scanner. Read more: http://www.kaspersky.com/news?id=207575670
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