Tag Archives: Facebook

The (Very) Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual – Download Free from MakeUseOf.com!

My MakeUseOf Manual on Facebook Privacy has been released!

Download “The (Very) Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual” from MakeUseOf for free.

Or if you’re a Scribd user, have a read of “The (Very) Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual” on Scribd.

“This handy guide outlines everything you could ever want to know about locking down your privacy on Facebook, and a few things you probably didn’t even know you wanted to know.” – Justin Pot of MakeUseOf.com

Facebook Fan Page and @Netsavoir Twitter

Smange Facebook Fan PageI just thought I should let you all know that I’ve started writing for MakeUseOf, covering fairly similar topics to the things I write here.
To collect my writing back into one place, I’ve made a Facebook Fan Page to collect all my best professional writing, including my work at MakeUseOf, NetSavoir, writings at Vegemite Croissant and more. Please feel free to “like” the Facebook Fan Page in order to keep updated.

If Twitter is more your thing, I have a few different accounts you might like to follow:
@Netsavoir – This tells followers when there’s new posts from the NetSavoir blog, plus the occasional related link that readers of this blog might be interested in.
@AngelaAlcorn – This updates followers with links to all my professional writing.
@Smange – This is where I actually Tweet. This covers a lot of different interests and activities, but is generally interesting.

Hope there’s something useful for you in that bundle of information & you can now easily keep track of my posts whichever way suits you best.

Feeding Facebook – About those bloody Twitter updates

Image Credit: MagerLeagues

Right. Time to get stuck in to a topic that hits a lot of nerves: Why some people import Tweets into Facebook. I’m not trying to start a debate here, rather to cast light on why some choose to do this.

Firstly, I’ll mention that due to Facebook changing the news feed, Twitter and Google getting friendly and Twitter introducing lists, both services are currently undergoing a bit of change. This means that users of both (especially those sending tweets through to Facebook) will be making adjustments. For starters, tweets get indexed by Google and Twitterers might have more luck keeping track of their real friends (thus also negating two of the main reasons for things like “Daily tweet” digests).

Anyway, there’s plenty of people wondering about the differences between the two services and what sort of status update goes to where. Danah Boyd also had a rant recently about the difference in status updates between Facebook and Twitter status updates. There are definitely differences between the two in regards to audience and conversation.

When I tweet it goes to thousands of people – some who are followers, some who see RTs and some who are searching hashtags or words. That audience is largely professional in nature. It’s public, immediate and it’s instantly part of a larger conversation. Twitter is about what’s happening throughout the world. It’s about news, thoughts, ideas, conversation and random funny things – but it’s also about everyone. You see humanising snippets of lives that remind you that you’re talking to real people. It’s the world talking to the world. People dip in and out as it suits them, talking to whoever is interesting or on-topic while they’re there. You miss some things and you catch others – It’s not important. When I’m online I see Twitter updates via Growl, constantly showing me interesting new stuff. Twitter is ubiquitous information gathering. Twitter is ephemeral. Twitter is about NOW.

Facebook is, due to the reciprocal friending practices, all about friends. Real friends. Yes, some people have also friended contacts and networkers as well as their friends. But largely, it’s about real friends. It’s like a one-stop shop for friend info. Facebook seems to be trying to branch into the worldwide-info market as well, but that’s not the point. For now, Facebook is the go-to place when you want to find out what your real friends have been up to.

I have no idea what you’re up to these days – you never post to Facebook.

I have to admit, when I first saw people bringing tweets into Facebook I was thinking “You’re doing it wrong!”. It still irks me that the Twitter app doesn’t work like it used to any more. The official Twitter app used to bring your tweets into your wall sweetly with a little Twitter logo. It was part of the news feed and if people didn’t want to see it they could just hide stuff from that app. But the app doesn’t work like that any more and none of the current working apps seem to do that – they all post as a status update. So, it was a big decision to cross the line and become an evil Twitter-Facebook crossposter.

Now, across many social networks I maintain separate information. Each network serves its purpose and has a different audience. I wanted to keep Facebook as a separate social network and not to replicate information – duplication is annoying! But the point is, Facebook is different for two very important reasons. Firstly, because information created in Facebook is largely stuck in Facebook (unless you can find the magic RSS feed) – it’s a walled garden. That doesn’t encourage people to create original content in Facebook. Secondly, because it really is the one-stop shop for friend info. Not many of my Facebook friends bother to follow RSS feeds – especially not now that Facebook is the place to go for friend info. And why would they go to Friendfeed and set up an account there, when they really want to see everything in Facebook with everything else? So, it’s up to me to make sure that all the stuff they might like to know about me is in Facebook where they’ll find it. In that respect, I’m treating Facebook as a lifestream. In goes a selected stream of stuff I do online, picked for relevance to my real-life friends. This is the general mentality of the people importing tweets and RSS feeds into Facebook. We have simply started to see Facebook as more of a lifestream for friends.

I’m actually quite glad that so many of my Twitter friends import their more interesting tweets into Facebook. If they didn’t I’d probably never see them. Even when I’m actively following Twitter I tend to miss things said by my own friends. This makes sure I don’t.

As for content, I guess it’s a constant adjustment to ensure just the right stuff is coming through. Twitter can get pretty chatty and it would be crazy to update your Facebook status that often. Some speak of Twitter as a mind-state versus Facebook as a life-state. That’s true for some. And for some, it’s only true sometimes. Humans are a pretty diverse mob. But for me, whether it’s something interesting I thought, saw, read or did, the final decision to send it to Facebook is largely about whether I think any of my friends will be interested. Also, since I don’t yet have an iPhone (or in fact a phone with internet or email access), I can’t update my Facebook status when I’m out and about. I can, however, send an SMS to Twitter and have it go through to Facebook if it’s relevant to my Facebook friends. So, Twitter is essentially the best path to get information from me to the internet at large. In that sense, things that I might have posted purely to Facebook are travelling through Twitter as well.

If you’re reading this and still all riled up that your friends are posting things to Facebook and it’s all just getting too much, I have an idea for you. Create a Facebook friends lists for “People I don’t follow elsewhere” and filter out the noise. Or just follow them via Facebook.

The point of all this is that there are many people out there who have realised that Facebook is where people go to find out about friends and that if we’re to supply these friends with the information they’re looking for then it’s best put on Facebook by us. There’s no point expecting people try to keep track of their own friends – we just have to take the information to where they’ll read it.

Image Credit: MagerLeagues

Lifestream me

I’ve been messing around with social networks for a long while now, so I was quick to see the need for a lifestream before most of my friends. In fact, most of my friends still don’t see why they would want one. Because of this, I thought I’d delve into some thoughts on why having a lifestream is useful and then explain which ones I use and why.

The comprehensive picture

The main reason I can see people wanting a lifestream is to be able to supply any interested person with a comprehensive picture of you via your activities online. Sure, it’s never going to be quite like meeting you in person, but it’s far more accurate then them viewing just your Twitter or Delicious links alone. And when you stretch out and find networks with the perfect niche for each of your interests, you find yourself drawn into interesting discussions or collecting unique data which you might then want to display to all the people who are generally interested in you. Rather than repeating yourself (or expecting them to visit your niche network), it’s far easier to use RSS feeds to collect that information and display it in the one place.

Loic Le Meur posted a fantastic post about why he needed a lifestream (with diagrams and video) when he suddenly realised that he had reason for one. Lea Woodward explains in her post that lifestreams are invaluable when maintaining relationships internationally and building relationships with clients online.

Image Credit: Christhomson

Why not just use Facebook?

The main reason most of my friends don’t compile their own lifestream is largely because they use only a few social networks and their only intended audience is their close friends. For these purposes, Facebook is usually enough for them. Facebook is a sort of lifestream – there are lots of ways to get information into the system and it does then give an overview of who you are. But, it’s very limited – only one RSS feed can be imported into the notes (if you have multiple blogs you can pre-mix them together using Yahoo Pipes – but you have to be the sort of person to think of that). Applications can be used to import more things, but most people are then limited by the applications available (not many people really want to write their own app just so something will work on Facebook). And then Facebook controls the layout and you’ll probably find no-one will see what you want them to see anyway.

But that’s not even the most important part – it’s about having something public. Due to privacy issues, people are locking down their Facebook profiles and generally sticking to friending people they actually know. That means your professional contacts aren’t able to quickly look at a page which gives a nice overview of you and links to relevant networks where they might find common interests and interact with you further. You need to create that yourself and do it somewhere public.

So, what can I use to lifestream?

There are lots of lifestreaming services out there. Yes, you can go to the effort of creating your own lifestream, but most people won’t bother or don’t have the skills. It’s far easier to use a ready-made lifestreaming service.

There are two different sorts of lifestreams available: Pull or Push. Both have their merits, and technically I use both. Pull lifestreams are where you can collect all the RSS feeds of stuff you do online and display them in a pretty page for people to see, like Friendfeed, Plurk or Soup. These are great for people who are active on lots of social networks and blogs.

Push lifestreams are a one-stop shop. You post directly to the site and it will sort your content and send it on to the various networks for you. These are great for people who want to have a presence in a lot of places, but don’t have the time (or don’t want to navigate the tools) to visit or use each network individually. They’re also great for people who are mostly offline and want to be able to update the various services they use via email (even if those services don’t directly support that) – they’re similar to services like Ping.fm. I’ll talk more about surviving offline in another post. A good push lifestream example is Posterous.

Steve Rubel has a great post on the difference between push and pull lifestreams and he’s got some easy-to-understand diagrams which tell the story very clearly. You can easily use a combination of both types of lifestream. In fact, most lifestreaming services are their own social network, lending even more confusion to the whole thing. In the end, all you have to do is decide where to send people when they want the full picture. Which service has the best picture for you? Do you want customisation? Do you want people to connect with you? Do you want to host it yourself?

Posterous is very customisable and can be hosted anywhere. Also, the content goes back out to the networks, so if you’re cunning you can pull that back in to a ‘pull’ lifestream as well. There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t.

Friendfeed is gaining in popularity and is a great way to connect with other people. Customisation is fairly limited, but exposure is high. It’s like a fleshed-out Twitter. People can follow you without you needing to follow back and people dip in and out of following as it suits them. Members can filter who they follow into lists, which means people can be selective about their viewing. There are also Friendfeed groups, which you can add RSS feeds to if you’re an admin, but member content needs to be re-posted to the group (which I personally find to be annoying).

To fill this niche is one of my favourites, Soup. This little gem is relatively unheard of, which is a great shame if you ask me. Soup allows you to customise your lifestream entirely. The available themes, however, are generally good enough for most people as they look great. Soup’s groups work in a slightly different way to Friendfeed’s groups. Feeds can be set up by admins and content can be pushed by members (same as Friendfeed). But the joy comes from the ‘member’ tab, which supplies a comprehensive mix of everything each member imports into their own lifestream. This is GREAT for clubs and small groups of people (like families). Each member can set up their own lifestream as they wish and the group display can show what everyone is up to. If you want an example of Soup group ‘member’ tabs in action, see my soup, my family soup and the LabF soup.

So, uh, what?

Okay, so I may have just confused the issue further by giving you too much choice in the way of lifestreams. The point is that they’re all different – They achieve different things. But no-one said you had to use just one service. Join Friendfeed for exposure (if that’s what you want) and so your friends can find you. Then pick (or make) at least one lifestream service that looks and behaves the way you want it to and call that your landing page from now on.

Image Credit: Christhomson

Socialmoth is now SpeedDate? WTF?

It’s Christmas day and all of a sudden I get an email to say that my Facebook profile shows me as having a dating app on my profile. Seriously, how many people do you think will have a hard time explaining this to their spouses?

Thanks for using Socialmoth Secrets. We are excited to announce that, as of next week, Socialmoth Secrets’s name and functionality will be changed to SpeedDate. Data entered into the original app won’t be used anymore. Soon you’ll be able to try SpeedDate, the fastest way to meet new people, so stay tuned!
Socialmoth Secrets

P.S. If you want to opt-out of this app, instructions can be found here.

By the time I received the email the SpeedDate app was listed as one of my apps. It looks like what they’ve done in reality is to subscribe all Socialmoth users to their new app, SpeedDate, and then plan to delete the SocialMoth app in the next week.

I think Facebook should have a few more rules about what an application is allowed to do. Especially when it comes to changing the name and/or the fundamental nature of what the app is about. Socialmoth (which was kind of like Postsecret for Facebook) just changed to SpeedDate. Hell, Facebook doesn’t let people change the names of groups – even if they spell something wrong! Why should an app be allowed to change so drastically? Facebook should make apps stick to the same strict rules as groups.. or at least have their name change approved by Facebook.

The trick of subscribing all current users to a new app should also be banned.


I believe that by changing the name and nature of the application from SocialMoth to SpeedDate they have falsely represented themselves. I think this counts as a violation of the Facebook Application Developer Terms and Conditions. I strongly recommend that anyone who was a Socialmoth user reports both SocialMoth and SpeedDate.

Social networks: Hermit or herd?

Elaine Chan and Priscilla Chan, licensed by Creative Commons

Facebook is changing us. We use it to stay in touch with many people from all areas of our life. Often these aren’t people we know well – they’re just people we knew from one thing or another. But we can see into their lives: see what’s bugging them, what bands they like, who they’re dating and what sort of person they’re after. It’s not usually life-altering information, but it’s enough to feel like you have an idea what their day-to-day lives are really like. This is kind of voyeuristic in terms of workmates and old school friends, but when it comes to close friends or family separated by distance it is an absolute godsend. To stay abreast of the little things means you feel closer to that person’s life.

But it also changes normal relationships with friends who are in the same town. You get invited to lots of stuff via Facebook. What if you don’t log in often? What if you’re not savvy enough to set up an iCal feed for Facebook events in Google? Well then, you miss out on the party. Tough. Now, what about those that did make it to the party. How do you explain that fancy dress costume to the boss? Your workmates all saw the photos before you even got over your hangover the next day.

But wait. There’s more. There is actually a good side to this networking business. It’s like what they always say: It’s not what you know – it’s WHO you know. If you know a whole lot of people and they all know you’re looking for a new job (Status update: “Bob is finished the degree and officially looking for a graphic design job!”) then that’s a whole lot more eyes and ears and “I know someone..” conversations to get you started. Much better than searching the papers, finding only courier and snack bar assistant jobs.

Of course, this status trick can backfire too (Status update: “Tim is sick of his boss and his whiny voice.”). Teachers have been fired for saying what they really think of the kids. Not a smart move. Or worse, you could get sprung taking a sickie. You might also get fired just for lazing away too much of your day.

So, educate yourself and your friends/kids/whatever on how to lock down your social networks. Keep your address and other personal info safe, keep your secrets locked to close friends. Seriously, how much do you want your high school friends to know? Think first. Share later. Then, make sure you are happy with your conduct going public. Don’t bludge, don’t pull sickies and don’t do dumb things in front of cameras. If you do accidentally get caught on camera then chat to the person who owns the camera ASAP. Preferably ask them to delete it, but at least ask them to lock down the photo for the sake of your job.

Generally, the benefits of social networking outweigh the dangers. You might even manage to teach yourself to be a more upstanding citizen. Out you come hermits! Come play with the herd.

It’s not rocket science.. or even cryptography. Typical!

Original uploader was DJOZU at ja.wikipedia, licensed by Creative Commons

Alice, a thirty-something career girl, lives in the sort of house you’d expect a thirty-something career girl to live in. She’s just started dating Bob, a typical business-guy, who is so far proving to be exactly the sort of boyfriend you’d expect a typical business-guy to be.

Alice, being a very typical thirty-something career girl, thinks Bob’s a pretty good catch and tells her friends about him on Facebook. She also, very typically, uploads a handful of photos so she can show him off to her friends.

Eve is your typical gen-y millennial girl, who until very recently has been dating a typical business-guy called Bob. Eve is feeling a very typical type of depression common to the recently dumped. Eve, in fact, has been so depressed lately that she hasn’t bothered to de-friend Bob on Facebook.

When Eve can’t resist the urge of her computer any longer, she logs on to Facebook and is instantly confronted with typical photos of typical business-guy ex, Bob and this thirty-something career girl. Angry and confused, she does exactly what any typical heartbroken young woman would do: She clicks through to find out more about this thirty-something career girl, Alice.

Alice, being the typical thirty-something career girl, is a very trusting sort of person. Her Facebook profile is an open book of information for the typically heartbroken, gen-y millennial, Eve. Eve starts by looking at other photos of Alice, taking extra special note of all the not-so-flattering party photos in the collection. Her compulsion is great, so she starts to trawl through other stuff: Alice’s wall, personal information and upcoming events. Eve now knows Alice’s email address, phone number, IM details, address, workplace, school details, friend details, music taste and where she’s going to be this weekend.

It’s not hard to see how Eve could use this information against Alice. Eve could break into her house while she’s out, start a fake profile, stalk her, harass her or even hurt her.

Think once. Think Twice. Think “Lock your frigging profile on Facebook”.