Tag Archives: data

John Hurt Asks You To #TakeBackControl With Respect Network

Regular readers of this blog should be aware that SocialSafe recently became one of the founding partners of the Respect Network, whose core principle is to empower and encourage individuals to #TakeBackControl of their privacy and data.

To remind us that we as individuals need to take steps to protect our privacy, the Respect Network has created this simple but emotionally provoking video:  “Who’s Watching You—John Hurt Asks You to #TakeBackControl”

Hopefully this video should remind you all that what you put online seldom stays private. Despite our best intentions, whenever we post things online or submit information to a third-party, our personal information is often available to a much larger number of people than we’d originally intended.

Here at SocialSafe we are proud to be a Respect Network founding partner, and believe that being able to #TakeBackControl is just the start. Once you have your personal data under your own control, then you can begin to do more with it.

We have started to make this possible for our users in terms of their social network data with the SocialSafe application. By backing up your own local copy of the content from your social networks, you can then search across all of your networks at once, create collections of content export raw data, PDFs and so on.

For more information about how the Respect Network operates, and to claim your own personal cloud name, please visit the main Respect Network site, and #TakeBackControl.

VIDEO GUIDE: Search Your Instagram Captions, Comments, Tags and #Hashtags

One of the cool things you can do when you download your Instagram photos to SocialSafe is to search through them by keyword or hashtag. When viewing your Instagrams within SocialSafe you can click on the Search box on the left hand side of the top bar and enter the word, name or phrase you’d like to find.

Here’s a very short video showing you how to Search Your Instagram Captions, Tags and #Hashtags:

Any photos containing your chosen search term will be displayed. Hovering over an image will show you how many comments, tags and/or likes it has, and clicking on the image will open it up in a larger view, where you will be able to see the caption, any comments, who has liked your photo and any tags associated with it.

You can also change the date range [not demonstrated in this video] to only show you images from any of the preset time periods (eg Last 7 Days, Last 30 Days, Last Year etc), or set your own custom date range.

For more tutorial videos, including how to print your Instagrams as PDFs, please refer to the SocialSafe YouTube Channel where the other aspects and functionality of the SocialSafe application are covered in greater detail.

Instagram Moved 20 Billion Photos To Facebook – Did Any Fall Through The Cracks?

Unbeknownst to the hundreds of millions of Instagram users, the infrastructure that holds all of their photographic creations has quietly been dismantled, relocated and rebuilt. Impressive stuff, when you consider the quantities of data involved – the service now stores in excess of 20 billion digital photos.

Since 2010 Instagram had been using Amazon’s cloud computing service, but the number of virtual machines required to run Instagram on Amazon was getting in “the thousands”. Historically, when Facebook had acquired other, smaller properties, the process involved shutting down the service in order to incorporate it into the world of Facebook. However, according to Facebook engineer George Cabrera, in the case of Instagram “the service couldn’t take any disruption”.

So in what Facebook called ‘Instagration’, the team in essence had to carry out multiple organ transplants while both patients were still conscious. Or as Mike Kreiger, founder of Instagram, explained:

“The users are still in the same car they were in at the beginning of the journey, but we’ve swapped out every single part without them noticing.”

The project was complicated, but the team behind the data transfer have successfully transitioned Instagram to now run from its own dedicated machines inside one of Facebook’s facilities. If you’re particularly interested in what the team had to do to make sure the whole thing went off without a hitch, then check out this article by WIRED’s Cade Metz:

How Facebook Moved 20 Billion Instagram Photos Without You Noticing

While everything seemed to go smoothly, whenever your content or data is held by a network or third-party that may encounter scaling issues or could indeed be absorbed into another company’s infrastructure, there will also be a concern that data could be lost along the way. While the ‘Instagration’ is a great example of data migration done well, it’s also a reminder that there’s always the potential that the actions of others could cost you what’s yours.

We believe that the individual should be the one who owns and controls their personal data, and that is why we built the SocialSafe application to allow you to download your Instagrams, Facebook Messages, Tweets, Followers and so on, all to your very own personal data store. There’s no reason to think that the networks themselves won’t look after the originals properly, but accidents can and do happen, so why take the risk?

Start building you own personal data library today, by downloading SocialSafe for free, and backing up your memories from the social networks you use.

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.

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.

Do You Know Which Passwords To Change After Heartbleed?

You will no doubt have read or heard an awful lot about the ‘Heartbleed’ security vulnerability affecting a huge number of websites and online services, and you will also have been told to change a lot of your passwords. The problem with doing that right now is that if the services themselves haven’t addressed the OpenSSL issue their end, then your new passwords would be just as at risk as your old passwords.

So the bad news is that you’ll probably have to change your passwords in stages, as each of the services you use gets around to fixing the issue. Thankfully a lot of these sites and services have been notifying their users when they’ve rectified the issue, giving them the all clear to go ahead and change their login information. There are also ways to test a site to see if it has been fixed or is still vulnerable, and our developers have been running checks on some the more commonly used sites and services this morning.

So we’ve got two lists of sites here:

Fixed – these are now safe and you should change these passwords now
Unaffected – these won’t have been affected by the OpenSSL issue. However, if you use the same or similar login credentials to a site that may have been exploited, we’d advise that you change these passwords too.

Fixed (change passwords now):

Adwords
Amazon
BT
Dropbox
ebay.com
econsultancy
Facebook
Gmail
Google+
Instagram
Netbanx
New Relic
PayPal
Play.com
Pocket
Sagepay
Stackexchange
Trello
Unfuddle
YouTube

Unaffected (only change if same/similar details used on a site above):

Adobe CC
Digicert.com
Eurostar
Evernote
Feedly
Freemarket FX
Godatafeed.com
Halifax
Hootsuite
Hotmail/Outlook.com
Innovateuk.org
Invision
LinkedIn
Mailchimp
Moo.com
Names.co
Natwest
Pivotal Tracker
Rapidswitch
Thawte
Twitter
Unbounce
Windows Azure

These lists are by no means exhaustive, but merely some of the more commonly used sites/services, some of which we use here at SocialSafe and had reason to check on today. Obviously if a site or service not appearing on our ‘Fixed’ list subsequently declares that they have fixed the issue, then take their word over ours!

We sincerely hope that none of you are adversely affected by the Heartbleed vulnerability and that you manage to change your passwords with minimal hassle. Please pass this blog post on to friends, family, co-workers and clients, and help spread the word.

- the SocialSafe team

Google’s new guide to getting at your data – The Data Liberation Front

Google Data Liberation FrontGreat move by Google. The Data Liberation Front is Google’s way of comforting us and educating us on how Google do not own our data. Data ownership is something that those in the know get very passionate about. Those that simply enjoy using the services are often unaware that there are limitations on the use of the data they generate. As a general rule of thumb the data you produce is yours to take with you anywhere. But most social networks, web based services and even applications that exist on your computer do not make it particularly easy to get at this data.

Find out more at dataliberation.org