Facebook Ads Based On Google Searches? How ‘Little’ Data Could Win The Day

Today I witnessed firsthand circumstantial evidence that Facebook is somehow accessing my browsing history and using this information to show me targeted ads in my News Feed. Facebook ads based on Google searches is a topic that has been in the tech press a lot in recent weeks, but I hadn’t consciously encountered it myself until today.

This weekend I’m going to a wedding, and in my own typical style I have left it until the last minute to arrange overnight accommodation or a late night taxi to take me all the way home. So I fired up another tab in Chrome (within the same overall window in which I’m logged into Facebook on another tab), and set about finding prices for a pub/hotel I know near the groom’s house.

I left the booking site without making a reservation, and then a few minutes later when casting my eye across my News Feed, I noticed a very familiar building:

Facebook ads based on Google Searches

Yes, the very same place I had been pricing up as somewhere to rest my bones after inevitably dropping some questionable dance moves at the wedding reception on Saturday night. At first I thought, “well that makes sense, classic re-marketing there,” but then I thought “hang on a second, Facebook and Google are separate companies… are they sharing my data without my consent?”

It irked me for a short while to think that my information was being exchanged for another party’s gain (even if I might benefit from a favourable room rate in the long run), but then I started to think about how much further the breadcrumb trail could have been laid out before me.

For this particular wedding my friends used a Facebook Event as both a save the date, and as an easy way to communicate with the guests on mass about finer details nearer the time. Now… I’m sure it wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch for Facebook to work out that I’m searching for a hotel within 3 miles of the location of an event I’m going that is happening within the date period that I was checking room availability.

Many of the other people attending the wedding (as indicated by their response to the Facebook Event) are also my friends on Facebook. Would it be too much of stretch to then assume that Facebook knows that they’ll be needing accommodation based on my actions, and would they be shown similar posts in their News Feed?

Going a step further, and thinking largely outside the box, would it be possible to combine the Facebook Event information and the Google search information of people that Facebook knows are friends, in order to produce suggested posts and even deals, specific to tagged groups of people.

For example, two people who are friends on Facebook and both attending an event might have also both looked at the cost of a single room in the same hotel. Say single rooms cost £70 each, but a twin is only £100 a night. Could Facebook then issue some sort of alert to say that you and friend X could save £20 each if the two of you shared a twin room for the night?

Obviously we’ve crashed through a few (hopefully still very sturdy) privacy gates to flesh out this hypothetical example, but it’s not entirely inconceivable, is it? The only way it would really work is if there was absolute trust in the person holding the data, and if you were confident in those who you were allowing the data to be shared with. (Imagine the amount of domestic disputes that would arise if similar examples of people looking at hotel bookings led to the discovery of extra-marital affairs etc).

Many would argue that Facebook and Google are not the ones to entrust with this sort of information if it is to be used in a social matching scenario. Here at SocialSafe we have recently joined Respect Network, which has the goal of putting control of personal data back into the hands of individuals and not only gives them the choice of how their information is used, but compensates them for their value. This is definitely a step in right direction.

The future for data is definitely big, but is big data the future? We believe the economy surrounding the user sanctioned exchanges of lots of little data (always specific to, and owned by, the individual) could be even bigger than ‘big’ data.

Respect Network Launch – #TakeBackControl Of Your Data

Public registration is now open for the Respect Network, to coincide with launch events across the world, which started last night in London, and continues today in Canary Wharf The Respect Network seeks to empower users to #TakeBackControl of their data, as CEO Drummond Reed explains:

“Protection of our digital life is the civil rights issue of our time. Being able to choose what happens with our private information on the Internet is something we should all have the right to do – for our sakes, and for the sake of future generations. Now is the time to act.”

The way we use the internet is changing, and we find ourselves using more and more of our personal data as currency when going about our daily online lives. However this is often to the unnecessary detriment of our privacy. The Respect Network seeks to help users retain this privacy by enabling individuals to share private data over peer-to-peer connections between members, also allowing individuals and businesses to share with each other privately, but with ease with which we currently share public data on Facebook and Google.

By registering with the Respect Network, every individual member receives a lifetime “cloud name” that begins with an equals sign, e.g. =your.name. This is a fully portable, private digital address for life, and as a result of the First Million Member Campaign, funding will allow for the development of new applications and service for the network.

Reed continues:

“Respect Network takes a fundamentally different approach to ownership and use of information than existing social networks and cloud providers. It puts control back into the hands of individuals and not only gives them the choice of how their information is used, but compensates them for their value.  No longer are people unwittingly the product.  For £17 GBP / $25 USD consumers can purchase a lifetime membership and receive their own lifetime cloud, safe in the knowledge that their digital rights are back in their control.” [SocialSafe does not make any money from Respect Network purchases]

We at SocialSafe identify incredibly strongly with the Respect Network’s principles of Privacy by Design and encouraging individuals to take back control over their personal data. As a development partner, we are pleased to offer anyone who joins the Respect Network a free 12 month SocialSafe licence.

The future of personal data is a very exciting, yet important time. While the possibilities of what personal data can do for the individual are vast, it is crucial that privacy should not suffer along the way. That is why we are proud to be part of the Respect Network, and are championing the cause for individuals to #TakeBackControl of their data.

As We Experience Another #FacebookDown Outage, Is Your Data Safe?

This morning we woke up to discover that we were in the middle of another Facebook outage, with anyone trying to access the site seeing the following error message for half an hour or so:

facebook down

I had actually logged on to Facebook before the outage hit, but it was when I came to sending a message – or indeed looking back through my old Facebook Messages – that I found that there was a problem:

facebook down

As you’d expect, the satire army were deployed on alternative networks with immediate effect, pointing out the monotony of certain themed posts that have been doing the rounds from seemingly everyone recently, or offering a tongue-in-cheek explanation as to how the problem was fixed:

Facebook employee Tom Logan said: “Somehow a dead bird had gotten wedged between the nuclear-powered servers, triggering a meltdown.

“Mark [Zuckerberg] knew doing the reboot was a one way journey. He refused a protective suit, as he was fully aware that it could not stop his organs liquefying.

“As the door slid shut behind him, he turned and gave a thumbs up through the hatch. It was the bravest thing I’ve ever seen.”

- The Daily Mash

Obviously this is not quite how things turned out at Facebook HQ, but things are thankfully now back to normal. Speaking to CNET, a Facebook spokesperson said:

“Earlier this morning, we experienced an issue that prevented people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time. We resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back to 100 per cent. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

While things are working again properly now, at the time the outage may have caused considerable inconvenience for many people. We often forget how much information is stored on the social networks we use on a daily basis, and many of us give little thought to what might happen if this information were to become unavailable – temporarily or otherwise.

With SocialSafe you can protect yourself against the risk of periodic separation from, or complete loss of, your social network information by downloading your own copy of your Facebook content to your own personal data store. To take control of your data now and to avoid the risk of someone else losing it, download SocialSafe for free!

SocialSafe Talks Personal Data At Internet World On 18th June

This week sees thousands of marketing, IT and technology professionals uniting at the ExCel London for Internet World  – the flagship event of London Technology Week.

Over the course of three days, Internet World will bring together business leaders, IT specialists, developers, technical experts, digital marketing and business development professionals with leading technology innovators and solution providers. SocialSafe Founder, Julian Ranger, will be speaking at Internet World on Wednesday 18th June, as one of the entrepreneurs invited to take to stand in the Big Data in the Cloud Management Theatre.

Julian’s talk is called How Personal Data Changed, And What This Means For Businesses Looking Forward. He’ll be discussing how the way individuals create data about themselves, and the way in which it is stored, reused and shared has changed remarkably over the last two decades. His half hour session will also look at how this data should be managed to maximise the benefit for both individuals and businesses, while still maintaining absolute user privacy.

The lineup of other speakers across all stages and the full schedule can be found over at the official Internet World website, where you can also find all sorts of other great content relating to not only the conference, but also London Technology Week.

We hope that any of you attending Internet World are able to see Julian speak at 1500 on Wednesday in the Big Data in the Cloud Management Theatre, and we’d love to hear what you think of his presentation!

SocialSafe v6.6.7 Released – Facebook Message Download Improvements & More

We’ve just released SocialSafe v6.6.7 in order to address a few issues that have cropped up since the last release that were affecting some users, and while we were at it we also included some improvements to the app that were slated to be part of the next major release.

Those of you on OSX may have noticed the odd issue with the Scheduler recently. We’ve now made some changes in v6.6.7 that will improve the reliability of the Scheduler meaning that your SocialSafe will back up any new content to your library from you social networks at the times you specify.

Another big performance improvement we’ve made is to downloading Facebook Messages. We’ve managed to speed up the process of downloading Facebook Messages and the message counter issue (the numbers you see by the status bar while syncing) has been resolved.

Other fixes and improvements in SocialSafe v6.6.7 include:

- Fixed Missing Journal View Backup Stats Issue
– Fixed Missing Facebook Page Avatar Issue
– Fixed Sync Stall on Facebook Events
– Fixed broken PDF Export button in Collections
– Suppressed Black Screen Issue some Users Experienced

We weren’t able to replicate all of these issues ourselves, so if you still experience problems with any of the above then please get in touch to let us know, and we’ll do our best to resolve matters.

- the SocialSafe team

Visit SocialSafe At The 2014 TechCrunch Europas Awards – June 10th

Tuesday June 10th sees the TechCrunch Europas arrive in London to showcase and celebrate the leading tech startups from all over Europe. The Europas Gathering will be a day-time event preceding The Europas Awards in the evening, and we will be flying the SocialSafe flag in the demo lounge.

The day-time gathering will see attendees create much of the content, alongside a few highlight discussions by key players in the technology world. We’re pleased to have been able to secure a stand in order to offer live demos of SocialSafe, and to talk about our vision for the future whereby individuals – not companies – are the focal point for personal data aggregation.

If you are attending the day-time gathering please feel free to stop by our stand, and Andy will be happy to show you how SocialSafe currently works, and both he and SocialSafe Founder, Julian Ranger, will be able to elaborate on how we see the world of personal data organisation and use changing in the future.

The evening consists of the TechCrunch Europas Awards ceremony and reception, with plenty of time for more relaxed and informal networking to take place. We’re immensely looking forward to the occasion, and hope that any of you who are attending take a moment to stop by our stand to have a chat .

The best way to get hold of us on the day is on Twitter via @SocialSafe, but please feel free to just drop by our stand at any time throughout the day – we look forward to meeting you!

Is Your Facebook Page Optimised For The New Layout Changes?

The new layout for Facebook Pages is gradually becoming mandatory for all, after first being made available to those who wanted to embrace the changes back in March. Over the course of the next few days page admins who hadn’t previously enabled the new layout will see that their Facebook Pages now more closely resemble the Timelines that they’re used to seeing on the Profiles of individual users.

With the posts now streamlined all the way down the right hand side of the page in a Timeline, this frees up the left hand side of the page for sections containing the other media and content types. Admins are also able to organise these sections, giving greater control over what is seen first by visitors the to a page.

The cover photo area has been tidied up to include simple text buttons in place of the clunkier ‘tabs’ that used to feature between the cover photo and the main content of a page:

new facebook pages layout

The People and About sections are anchored at the top of the left hand column, (the right hand column being the Timeline), which is just beneath the cover photo and quick navigation buttons, but everything else can be reordered:

new facebook page layout

So for example if you have a very visual product you could position the photos section right at the top, or if your page had previously enjoyed lots of engagement via one particular aspect, you can make sure that your audience can continue to find it easily by positioning it close to the top.

Page admins might also want to think about what they have as their page’s last section, as this will remain visible when someone scrolls further down your timeline, so if you can put something memorable or compelling there, you might find that it is the section that gets the most viewing time.

Have you have the new Facebook Page layout for a while, or are you just getting it now? What are your thoughts? Let us know by leaving a comment below, or if you have any tips for ordering sections please feel free to share them here.

Scout Willis Topless Protest After Instagram Removes Her Account For Nudity

A social media storm was brewing yesterday as topless pictures of Scout Willis (daughter of Die Hard star Bruce Willis and Striptease pin-up Demi Moore) were posted to Twitter by Scout herself in protest against the apparent ‘anti-nipple’ policy of photo sharing platform Instagram.

The 22-year-old actress was originally banned from Instagram for posting a picture of an item of clothing she had designed featuring two topless women. She then took to Twitter to vent her frustrations, and then subsequently went on a bare-chested jaunt around New York City, taking photos along the way which she posted to Twitter with the hashtag #FreeTheNipple.

We’ll keep this particular blog entry free of any nude picture, but all of the images posted by @Scout_Willis can be found on her Twitter page where she also goes on to explain that it’s not just about losing her Instagram pictures:

Following Scout Willis’ public complaint to Instagram, her account was reinstated (albeit without the images that contravene the site’s policy), however she has since declared her disinterest in rejoining Instagram, saying “They gave it back, but I don’t want it…”.

However, you do have to wonder what would have happened if someone less famous than Scout Willis had complained about being banned, or if her #FreeTheNipple campaign on Twitter hadn’t seen so much support. With strict policies governing what will and will not be tolerated on social networks, it can be easy to accidentally post something that crosses the line and sees all of your content removed or blocked, and your account suspended or deleted.

Don’t take a chance with your social media memories – create a backup of your content that you own and control. With SocialSafe you can download your Instagrams, posts, tweets, photos, messages and more from a variety of social networks including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. You never know when you might find that they’re gone.

Real Estate Magnate Hides Cash Then Tweets Clues To Its Whereabouts

Many accounts on Twitter promise to help you make more money, or indeed save you money, but none quite in the same way as this enigmatic user from California. Using the account handle @HiddenCash, this mystery user is hiding sums of cash in public places, then posting pictures and clues as to their whereabouts on Twitter. Prior to posting the clues, @HiddenCash will also tweet ahead of time to let its followers know that a ‘drop’ is imminent.

The account was created less than a week ago, yet already over $5,000 has been found by @HiddenCash’s followers in the San Francisco Bay area alone. Further drops are continuing around the state of California, with the residents of Los Angeles and San Jose already benefiting from the mystery tweeter’s acts of kindness.

When someone finds the hidden Benjamins, there is an accompanying note with instructions on how to alert @HiddenCash to the fact that the money has been found, and in turn continue the game.

Here’s an example of how the whole thing works:

First the clue…

And then the tweet from the jubilant person who found the hidden green…

 No one knows who the generous person leaving money parcels around California is, although the person or group behind these kind acts sent an anonymous email to TIME to explain the reasoning behind their actions:

“I have made my fortune in real estate, and have been able to accumulate multiple properties, whereas so many people can’t afford to buy a house or even a small condo in San Francisco. People who work just as hard or harder than me. So I wanted to give back … But I also wanted to do something that would give back in a fun way, and get people involved.”

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been used to broadcast clues for finding hidden physical goodies. Scottish band Biffy Clyro recently hid concert tickets around the towns local to the venue on the day of their shows and alerted their followers in a similar fashion to @HiddenCash.

Are you from California and are you following @HiddenCash? Have you tried to look for any of the money? Let us know how you get on!

SocialSafe Partners Respect Network In Privacy Revolution Launch

Here at SocialSafe we’re pleased to announce that we are one of the launching development partners for the Respect Network.

The Respect Network share our core principle that individuals should be the ones who own and manage the personal data relating to themselves, not the large companies. Like SocialSafe, the Respect network also believe that the individual should be the one to determine how and when that information is used, and directly benefit from that use.

In its own words, the Respect Network is:

“…the only global data sharing network engineered from the ground up by what is called Privacy by Design. This can be distilled into three main points of difference – all members own and control their own data in their own personal or business clouds; all sharing is over direct peer-to-peer connections under a standard legal framework to guarantee privacy; and the network is paid for directly by members rather than by advertising or data brokering.

Founded in 2011 and now a coalition of 50 Founding Partners, the Respect Network is the world’s first global private network of personal and business clouds. Its purpose is to empower members anywhere in the world to safely share sensitive private data over trusted private connections just as easily as they can share data publicly on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ today.”

We at SocialSafe strongly identify with the notion of empowering users to take control of their data. By joining the Respect Network as a development partner, we will be continually expanding the range of personal data that SocialSafe users will be able to add to their libraries, and selectively share on their own terms.

Next month the Respect Network launch events kick off, and we shall be in London over two days, attending both the evening celebration on June 23rd, and the Immersion Day/Hackathon on June 24th.

For more information about the Respect Network and to claim your Respect Network Cloud Name please visit http://www.respectnetwork.com.