The Right To Be Forgotten, Or The Right To Censor? How Will Europe Decide?

This week the European Courts effectively created a new law, the Right to be Forgotten on the Internet.  The Right to Forget is also included in the proposed new EU Data Protection law that is due to come into force in 2016.  But are they the same? In this case it does not appear to be so, and the fact that they are different appears to be being missed by most observers.

Let’s take the new Data Protection Act first.  This gives the individual the right to be forgotten, but what does that mean? It’s very simple really – if I give Company x some data, whether that is for say a Facebook post or some financial data for a comparison website, then I can subsequently ask that site/service to delete the data which I have given it.  I have a right for them to ‘forget’ this information. This seems entirely reasonable – I share information with you on the understanding that it carries a ‘burn after reading’ caveat. I can ask for it to be deleted after it has served the purpose for which I had originally shared it with you.

But this week’s ruling in relation to Mario Costeja González was different.  In this case he wanted a 3rd party, Google, to delete a link (search result) to an old court case, yet the original court case data is not being deleted.  This does not seem reasonable as the original source remains. In a rather crude analogy it is like asking the highways agency to remove road signs or redact places from maps. If there is an issue with data remaining public years later, then logic says that it should be dealt with under Spanish law for ongoing publication of old legal cases, not by requiring 3rd parties to know what is public and whether it can be used or not.

Mr González did not volunteer this information to the courts, nor entrust the details of the case to a third-party under the assumption that they would stay private. This information is a matter of public record, and as such it seems odd to think that he has any right to demand that Google not return this information as a search result. As some commentators have suggested, this is a particularly Stalinist approach which is more akin to censorship than it is to The Right to be Forgotten on the Internet.

An article in The Times summarised it nicely:

The embracing of a “right to be forgotten” is… of course, a right to be forgotten selectively; complainants are unlikely to demand that flattering references to themselves are de-linked.

It is important to draw a distinction between these two examples (providing a company or organisation with personal data for a specific purpose and then expecting it to be deleted after use, vs requesting that links to matters of public record be deleted), otherwise the important Right to Forget in the Data Protection proposals may be deleted because of the concerns over what we could call “3rd party Right to Forget”.

Facebook Outages – Can You Access Your Content In An Emergency?

At the end of last week some Facebook users were unable to log in to the social network, instead encountering the following error message:

facebook down

It didn’t appear to be a complete outage, as the issue only affected some users. However, as Facebook is increasingly used as an online ID to log in to more and more sites and services, any Facebook downtime can have further reaching effects than simply not allowing you to access the social network itself:

According to a spokesperson, the outage is now fixed, and a message on Facebook’s Platform Status page confirms that the sitewide issues were resolved in the early hours of Saturday morning.

While a minor outage only affecting some users, it does go to show that even without the malevolent interference of hackers, there is always a risk that you could be separated from your data if you entrust all of it to someone else to look after for you.

It’s easy to forget how much important information can be held on social networks – just think about all of the addresses, timings and other details that we take for granted as being available 24/7. The only way to be sure that you’re doing all you can to ensure you are able to search for something said on or contained on your social networks is to keep your own copy of your data.

At SocialSafe we believe that you should be the single biggest owner of your data, so if you want to download your Facebook Messages, back up your tweets, download your tagged photos and more, start your very own SocialSafe library now for free.

We Need Your Help To Send Julian Up Kilimanjaro!

We’re trying to spread the word about SocialSafe as far and wide as we can… So why not send our Founder up Kilimanjaro? Yes, you read that correctly. We’re looking to get Julian up the tallest mountain in Africa, and we need your help in achieving this goal.

Kilimanjaro trips

The Summit Kilimanjaro is organised by the same good folks behind The Summit Dublin – widely regarded as the most influential and international tech event in Europe – and the expedition will be taking place in September. Once again The Summit Kilimanjaro is partnering with charity: water and hopes to not just raise awareness of their incredible work by visiting their projects in Tanzania, but also to raise enough funding to bring clean water to 5,000 people in Africa. Three startup founders are being given the opportunity to be part of the trip, and then tell their stories from the Main Stage at The Summit in November.

So how can you help?

Well, Julian is into the final 200, but it’s now going to a public vote, so we’d really appreciate it if you could follow this link to The Summit Kilimanjaro and ‘Like’ the video. As you’ll see if you watch the clip (it’s only ~45 seconds), Julian has already traveled to each of the seven continents, and is even going to space with Virgin Galactic, but Kilimanjaro is something he has never attempted before.

Every vote counts, so please take a moment to like the video and help us get Julian out of the office for a few days! ;-)

SocialSafe v6.6.6 Released – Facebook & Instagram Login Issues Fixed

Yesterday we had to release SocialSafe v6.6.6, an unscheduled update that was necessary to address changes to both Facebook and Instagram’s login mechanisms, which would have caused issues if left unattended.

The changes made by Facebook meant that anyone trying to add a Facebook Profile or a Facebook Page to their SocialSafe library would have been unable to do so. Users who had already synced their Facebook Profiles or Facebook Pages would still have been able to sync new content however.

The Instagram issue was slightly different and manifested itself by returning errors when trying to add an Instagram account to SocialSafe or when syncing content to the library.

We have since fixed these issues, and seeing as we’d already ticked a few other items off our list that were scheduled to go in our next planned release, we included them in SocialSafe v6.6.6. This update includes:

  • Facebook Login Issue fix for both Personal Accounts & Facebook Pages
  • Instagram Login Issue fix
  • Fix for Users unable to clear Black Overlay Screen
  • Further Helper .NET Error Fix
  • Accounts View UI enhancement

We do try to keep disruption to a minimum when it comes to releasing an update so soon after another one, but we hope you understand the importance of us addressing this issue in a timely fashion.

Recovering Your Online Privacy – How To Delete A Bebo Account

Last year you may have read a post on here about a friend of mine who had a job interview cancelled because the employer carried out a social media check and found something on her Bebo account that they didn’t like. She hadn’t used Bebo in around 8 years and never for one second thought that someone would take the trouble to look on there when screening for an interview.

Naturally she then tried to delete the account but found that while her profile was still publicly viewable, there was no way to login and edit or delete it. We both emailed Bebo asking them to deleted our accounts in September 2013, but I didn’t hear anything until February, when they said:

Hey Andrew,
Totally understand your concern. Please know that we have received your request and are building a tool as we speak to get this done for you asap. Thanks for your patience.
Thank you for your email,

Bebo Support 

Anyway, they have since got back to me this week, saying that my account had actually been deleted – as per my request – a while ago:

deleting a bebo account

So if you wanted to delete a Bebo account, we can tell you that there is a way. From my own experience, if you simply send an email to asking them to delete an account they can do this for you. You’ll probably have to prove that you are the one who owns the account, but in my case I just emailed them from the address used to create the account in the first place, and they didn’t ask me for any further information.

Here at SocialSafe we absolutely believe in holding on to your past and cherishing the memories you create online, but at the same time we’ve all said things online that at some point we later regret. We know a number of people had commented on the original article about this, so hopefully this will help anyone looking to delete a Bebo account.

VIDEO GUIDE – Create PDFs Of Your Favourite Instagrams

Earlier this week we added another tutorial video to our YouTube channel. Most of you should hopefully know how to create PDFs of your Instagrams with SocialSafe, but for anyone who doesn’t, this video should make it clear:

As you see, it’s very simple. When viewing your Instagrams through either the Account View or the Photo View, you can click on the PDF and Collections button in top-right corner of the app to enable content selection. Either select your Instagrams manually by clicking on individual images, or select them all by clicking the small tick now in the top-right corner.

Once you’re happy with your selection,  click on the ‘Export to PDF’ button on the left of the top bar, and choose where you’d like to save your PDF of your Instagrams. Once the file has been created it will open automatically, displaying your photos in chronological order, along with any tags, comments and likes.

Why not create a PDF of all your Instagrams that a friend has liked, and then send it to them?

SocialSafe v6.6.5 Released – UI Improvements, Facebook Messages Fix & More

Yesterday we released SocialSafe v6.6.5, which included a number of planned improvements and also some ad hoc work we had to carry out to address to external problems that have been affecting the app.

You may have noticed some irregularities with SocialSafe recently with regards to downloading Facebook Messages, and you might have seen a large number of duplicate messages being stored in your SocialSafe library. This turned out to be because Facebook had changed the way it labels messages from a raw data point of view, meaning that as far as the SocialSafe application was concerned, these were new messages and therefore added to the library as new items.

But the good news is that the issue was relatively straightforward to fix, so if you update to SocialSafe v6.6.5 and sync your Facebook messages the app will retrospectively remove any duplicate messages that you may have already synced to your SocialSafe library.

Elsewhere in the app we have made the following improvements:

- Photo Caption UI Improvements
- View Filtering Improvements
- PDF Contact Ordering Improvements
- CSV Export Button now active in Message Views
- Helper .NET Error Issue Resolved
- Resolution for occasional pop-up issue preventing use of app

We’d like to thank everyone who has contacted us with questions and suggestions, as this always helps us to forge forward and move SocialSafe in a direction that our customers want.

- the SocialSafe team

Facebook Has Put A Price On Your Data – Have You?

Earlier this week Facebook released its earnings report for first quarter of 2014, revealing revenues of $2.5 billion, which beat estimates from Wall Street of $2.36 billion. It was also announced that the number of monthly active Facebook users on mobile now exceeds one billion, so it was no real surprise that the amount of the total revenue that comes from mobile advertising has also risen from 53% last quarter, to 59% in 2014 Q1.

Not bad for a social network that is free for anyone in the world to use.

However, there is obviously an inherent value in facilitating the sharing of personal information between friends, and between customers and businesses. Also contained within the Q1 earnings report was the news that Facebook’s average revenue per user (ARPU) around the world had increased over the past year as well.

Mashable have published the following chart, created by Statista, which breaks down the evolution of the average revenue per Facebook user over the past year:

how much is a facebook user worth

So clearly the bean counters at Facebook are able to put a monetary value on your personal information, but can you?

There is a reason why you post things to Facebook (or any other social network for that matter). It may be to share something fun with friends, so start a debate, to ask a question, or just so that you can go back and find it later. Almost everything we do online is done so with the intention of evoking a reaction from our network of friends, family, colleagues or customers.

It’s easy to forget that when we post things online, we don’t actually own a copy of it ourselves that we know we can always lay our hands on.

It’s staggering to think how much care people put into keeping mundane physical records such as bank statements from years gone by, yet how little they put into looking after the more sentimental, digital stories they are telling. After all, if the likes of Facebook were the victim of a cyber-attack, who would you turn to for all the memories that you’ve been creating and reliving online?

SocialSafe is the social media backup tool that lets you download and keep your own copies of your digital memories from a variety of social networks. Even if nothing were to happen to the originals, it’s good to know that you’ve done what you can to make sure that your memories are preserved… You know, just in case.

Highway To The Danger Zone: US Airways Accidentally Tweets Nude Image

Just when you think your company is killing it on social media, some fool tweets a picture of a woman pleasuring herself with a model aeroplane. Confused? Read on…

us airways tweet
It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.

It’s probably fair to say that it’s been a week of mixed results for the social media teams of American Airlines and US Airways.

On Monday, a 14-year-old Dutch girl jokingly sent a tweet to @AmericanAir threatening them with a terror attack. Highly unamused and quite justifiably concerned, the airline simply responded by saying that they’d passed her details onto the FBI. The girl was subsequently arrested by Rotterdam Police later that day.

High-five! Way to go airline social media teams! But then things went a little wrong yesterday…

US Airways (who incidentally merged with American Airlines in December 2013) had social media disaster when one of its employees mistakenly tweeted a decidedly NSFW image to a customer who was trying to lodge a complaint. It took US Airways a good hour to realise their error and delete the tweet, by which time the image had been retweeted hundreds of times.

When US Airways issued an apology, they claimed that the image had been sent to them by another Twitter user, and that it had inadvertently wound up in the response to the complaining customer while they were trying to flag the image as inappropriate. Either way, we’d hate to be the person who hit ‘send’ on that tweet.

Unfortunately, the reality of social media is that by the time any of us realise we’ve posted something we perhaps shouldn’t have, it is often too late, and the item has either been copied, reshared or both. Obviously accidents happen, but in order to minimise this risk, it’s wise to make sure that any staff operating social media channels on behalf of a company are well versed in the best practices.

Recently we put together a white paper that we feel would be helpful to anyone using social media as part of their business, and you can download it for free: Minimising the Legal and Regulatory Risks of Social Media in Business.

14 Year Old Dutch Girl Arrested For ‘Terror Threat’ Tweet To American Airlines

A Dutch teenager has been arrested after jokingly tweeting a terror threat to American Airlines. Unsurprisingly, the airline didn’t see the funny side of it and reported the threatening message to the authorities:

American Air Twitter Threat

The prankster then swiftly backpedaled, claiming that the tweet was said as a joke, before posting a number of further messages lamenting her decision and seeking legal advice. The story soon went viral on Twitter, with @queendemetraiax_ gaining over 3 thousand followers that day. Eventually she deleted all of the tweets, but not before someone was able to Storify them:

Teen Tweets @AmericanAir: “Hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan”

However, it would appear that the authorities take these things incredibly seriously, and yesterday it was confirmed by Rotterdam Police that they had arrested the 14-year-old girl:

A spokesperson for the Dutch police told Business Insider, “We’re not in a state that we can communicate any state of charges at this point, we just thought it was necessary to bring this out mostly because of the fact that it caused a great deal of interest on the Internet.”

This isn’t the first time people have found themselves in custody – or even given jail terms – for saying something on social networks, even if in jest. So next time you think you might have something funny to say, just consider the implications of that message being seen or heard by a wider audience than you may have anticipated.