Posts Tagged ‘social networks’
Wall Street Journal Supposed “Investigative” Report of Facebook “Sending” Information to Advertisers is Incomplete Journalism
May 20, 2010 in blogging
Tags: advertising, facebook, facebook privacy, HTTP headers, HTTP_REFERER, internet privacy, investigation, journalism, mashable, personal information, privacy, privacy loopholes, social networking, social networks, technology, Wall Street Journal, web browsers, web servers, WSJ
Mashable posted a link to a Wall Street Journal article with the title “Facebook and Others Caught Sending User Data to Advertisers” (Mashable’s Title, not WSJ). Talk about a sensationalized headline!
The issue at hand here is what Web nerds know as the HTTP_REFERER, which is part of the HTTP headers that your web browser sends to every web server during every single request made to that web server. The HTTP_REFERER header has been around LONG before facebook was even an idea, long before myspace ever existed. It lets the current page request know the page the browser was on prior to the current page. This is valuable information for a lot of reasons, not just because websites want to know where their clicks are coming from (but that’s not what this blog article is about).
WSJ’s “investigative” report claims the following
“For most social networking sites, the data identified the profile being viewed but not necessarily the person who clicked on the ad or link. But Facebook went further than other sites, in some cases signaling which user name was clicking on the ad as well as the user name of the page being viewed.”
The problem with this statement is that is clearly make Facebook out to be some advertising hoodlum with no regard for the privacy of it’s users when that is hardly the case at all.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the 50 foot Facebook URLs like http://www.facebook.com/jaredude/#!?ref=logo/photo=1627836127y/pages/Dinosaurs/75183307096?ref=search&sid=704807817.2984144529..1&v=wall
Well, apparently I like dinosaurs, and I did a search for dinosaurs while I was visiting a friend’s wall. So, Internet advertisers now know that I like dinosaurs and they also know my profile! So, if they make up a profile and become my friend, they will then be able to harvest my “personal” Facebook information to find out that I don’t just like dinosaurs.
Now, I may be a dinosaur with my HTTP_REFERER knowledge, but links opened in a new window (which all Facebook ads do) NEVER contain an HTTP_REFERER. This would mean that this supposed gigantic privacy hOle is just that… a hole! It doesn’t even exist. WSJ could have just called me to get a verification on their “findings”, but they didn’t. Poor investigation WSJ!
Now, playing around with Facebook a bit, I notice that it opens a new window but has a URL from Facebook… OMG! Is this the smoking gun! Are we all doomed?!?!?!!! Here’s the URL that shows up from one of my ads on my profile: http://www.facebook.com/ajax/emu/f.php?eid=AAAAAwAgACAAAAFFvp4ppN6m9Pq4hq0i2rFlgwyY6y-1YtQsEyXKS3PawzDv9weX5sDBV2GHxRjLqLKiscV76VwF7-y68e-AIpUGgJrPMQNdirDzSkjauIPEw6xeyLnT754RNezJRytIA7fsxYSRNXqPq1C3xXMDkeJw3PJiUzC3rN2fTnM8dBPa4XRk5gBsKmMhqBFuUpD340JAefH8PNrxWfV9cdYm2m765XdPTV3oHCQsrRp5yOowx4UOzk61oiDUf5xZ12s2DjG5rGcxheCegMIE7b_aLsFlCt4kcUm4ISvz8FZGOe6YsRWA7kJ9_QhJI-wARu1fO0xuwWMZHTPyh_KV5reo5I6IIh0V-cqcYyg5DGGo05hCkoNgRUakUpuqV84tY_0QCPsSPMHEqb1w62HceiZlszdb7zeusIyzGv-liqZJBRYaakfLyxATXOgH42A8cKBK6iNkUV0V_Nbc-6_47IOAlikTrOSdMPwjJIkmhv3xA4DMT1B6m-y-Te3JEdUs5mOPL_3x_gq_yRE-KgD-lulSgSSdMNmqsu0u4h1pUuuvSkD4eg8.&c=2&f=0&ui=6002535060667-id_4bf5ffe573ac8267871a1&en=1&a=0
Hardly mappable to any personally identifiable information about me, except maybe my personal taste in women 😛
Update: Even TechCrunch has jumped on this story, yet added no real tech information on anything. Funny that they can publish an article a few weeks back talking about how the scrubbed their logs for the HTTP_REFERER and found how little traffic Google Buzz sent them but aren’t intelligent enough to point out that links opened in a new window pass no HTTP_REFERER.
The moment I heard about Facebook’s “like” feature, I shivered. The idea seemed brilliant to someone at Facebook, brilliant enough to push it through testing and into release (for a company like Facebook, that’s a pretty big deal). This new “like” concept was going to revolutionize Facebook usage on the Internet! It was going to show up everywhere! The Internet was going to become a big giant like-fest…
Folks at Facebook and Interweb “pundits” chimed in about how Facebook was doing this to help generate greater interest in brands. It was designed to lower the barrier to entry (so to speak) for a consumer to brands establishing themselves on Facebook. The idea was that it’s easier to “like” a brand than to be a “fan” of a brand. How cute, right?
Lowering the barrier to entry for a potential customer seems like a good idea, until you do the math. Let’s say my business is paying 40 cents per click on Facebook. If the barrier is at the “fan” level, I will presumably receive fewer clicks, but they will be from “fan” level (potential) customers. Fans are more valuable than likes (I’ll get to that in a second). If the barrier is at the “like” level, I will presumably receive more clicks than at the “fan” level, but they will be from “like” level (potential) customers. This means that I will be paying more money to Facebook for a less qualified potential customer.
BTW, the above is not conjecture. A lower qualified customer is not as valuable as a higher qualified customer. Now, let’s get into the difference between a “fan” and a “like”.
The problem with this is that businesses don’t want likes, we want fans. The Los Angeles Lakers (replace with any sports team) don’t sell season tickets every year because of their likes, it’s because of their FANS! Lakers merchandise does sell to likes, it sells to FANS!
But not every business is sports team… Of course not.
Now, let’s replace the Lakers with perhaps a watch company 🙂
People purchase watches that they like, right? I mean, you go to a store and see a nice watch and say, “I like that watch.” You don’t say, “I fan that watch.” So, obviously my theory is broken, right? Well, not really because you still haven’t purchased the watch. Liking something is window shopping. We all see a lot of stuff that we “like” in the windows but never buy. However, when we really find a watch that resonates with us, we become obsessed. We become a FAN! We figure out some way to convince our wife or girlfriend that we NEED that watch. Just like we need season tickets to the Lakers (good luck with the waiting list)!
Getting back to Facebook… They just devalued themselves. They are providing a less qualified potential customer and no business in their right mind will pay the same for a less qualified potential customer than what it was paying before for a presumably more qualified customer. That being said, time will tell whether the potentials are less qualified or not. My prediction is that the potentials will indeed be less qualified, and this will make Facebook less attractive to advertisers (like myself).
TechCrunch just posted an interesting article about Myspace’s “Hail Mary Strategy”. Ultimately, what Myspace is going to “discover” out of any strategy they have is that they cannot succeed with NewCorp. Yes, NewCorp pumps a ton of money into Myspace. Yes, Myspace would not have been able to spend as much as it did over the last several years if it wasn’t for NewCorp. However, that doesn’t mean that Myspace would have failed without NewsCorp.
I’m going to liken Newscorp’s purchase of Myspace to a bailout. Much like the bank and auto industry bailouts, it is a failure. Pump a bunch of money into a failed system and you get Saturn, GM, Chevrolet, Pontiac, AIG, and Myspace.
To be sure, Myspace had plenty of opportunity to join the rest of the Internet in the innovation that took place over the last several years since the purchase of Myspace by NewsCorp. The most notable failures I can think of by myspace:
- Failure to popularize and authentication system like FB Connect
- The continued used of Cold Fusion
- Failure to go ugly (let’s face it, Facebook and Google have shown the world that ugly generates traffic. And by ugly, I mean a simple, clean interface that isn’t cluttered with banner ads)
- Failure to implement AJAX everywhere
- Too little too late with implementing integrations with out websites
I think the last item is the biggest failure and that the mentality inside Myspace stemmed from the culture of NewsCorp. If you look around at the Internet today, the Facebook share button is everywhere. It wasn’t like that not too long ago. Myspace could have integrated with Digg, Youtube, College Humor, and scores of other content aggregation websites. And that’s not all they could have done. They could have developed an elaborate “my space” that allowed users to integrate their information along with their favorite bands, friends, trends, twitter, etc.
What would have happened if Myspace had gone geo last year? Yes, that would have taken development time and a push to jump ship from Cold Fusion (honestly, who uses that anymore?)
Imagine going geo with a combination of calendar, photos, and social networking! Has anyone noticed the lack of a functional web calendaring system in all of the social networks?
Myspace’s focus was on “cool”, which is a huge failure on the Internet. The Internet is not cool. It’s geeky! It’s nerdy. Cool is so not cool anymore!!!
Watching Myspace over the last couple of years is like watching Dr. Evil when he first meets Scott. Myspace continues to try to be cool. Its latest “discover and be discovered” is an attempt at making Myspace cool to use “again and again”. It will only continue the path of Failspace.
How can Myspace be saved? Drop the Newscorp bailout, innovate, leverage the connections with the Entertainment industry, and go ugly.
Facebook is quickly becoming far more than just a social network. The ability to build applications that integrate with Facebook make it perhaps one of the most useful tools for a business. I talked about this with Dean on the Words Cause Radio Show on BlogTalkRadio.com this morning.
For example, my business is going to launch an integration with Facebook that will provide customers will FB notifications when there is an update to their order. Our customers will also have further interactions and special promotions available on Facebook that we cannot necessarily provide through our own system. I predict many other businesses going down this route with Facebook rather than Myspace (which is bloated) or Twitter (which is not private).
The other day, I felt like I was going crazy. I was bursting into uncontrollable laughter. I had received a message on Facebook that I was tagged in a photo. It was one of those collage photos, so I figured I check it out sometime later. Those things can be pretty entertaining. I eventually got around to checking it and discovered I had been tagged as “the asshole” in the picture.
Now, the person who tagged me as “the asshole” is the real reason I was laughing my ass off. This is the same woman who I had been dating off and on for five-and-a-half years when she told me that my friend Rich committed suicide because I’m such a lousy friend and then left me because she was so hurt by me. Mind you, she did this 10 days after Rich killed himself.
To be sure, I’m no innocent person. I happen to be a human being, and I’ve made some very big mistakes in my life. I’ve hurt quite a few people along the way, and I have no problems with people considering me an asshole. I have certainly been an asshole to many people, and anyone who has dealt with me in business will tell you that I have a brutal streak of shrewdness.
Still, I’m not sure that someone who I helped build her career and her personal life should be calling me an asshole. Of course, I’m sure she has long forgotten about how so much she has in her life right now has come from the support that I have given her over the years.
Now, the whipped cream and cherry on top came today. Her best friend decided to tag me as “the asshole” as well on what would have been Rich’s 33rd birthday.
I feel for them both. That somehow they feel comfort in labeling me as an asshole while I am wandering through the grieving process of having lost a close friend of nearly 20 years is beyond me. Is it too much to ask them to at least wait a couple months?
October 28, 2008 in blogging, cool stuff, culture, inspiration, life, media, News, Radio, technology, thoughts
Tags: charity, facebook, Hayden Panettiere, Joe Marchese, myspace, noble cause, save the whales, saving whales, social networking, social networks, socialvibe, supporting cause, supporting charity, worthy cause
This Thursday, Dean and I are hosting a very special edition of the Jared and Dean WordsCause Radio Show. You may have seen the stuff on Myspace the other day with Hayden Panettiere promoting her cause (very worthy cause BTW, Whaleman). Well, SocialVibe.com is the service she’s using to promote her cause and SocialVibe is what we have!
We’ll have Joe Marchese, a social networking genius, on the show talking about how you too can utilize SocialVibe to make a difference for your cause. With widgets for the great social networks like Myspace and Facebook, you don’t want to miss this special edition of the Jared and Dean WordsCause Radio Show on BlogTalkRadio.com!
Helping spread the word one SPAMMER and Phisher at a time…
I’ve been receiving emails from “people I know” that “have questions”, “want to share a picture”, etc. The links lead to a very elaborate phishing website: fanbox.com. Despite all the really cool web 2.0 features, utilizing AJAX to make things look like a Windows desktop, make no mistake about it, Fanbox is SPAM. They will phish your password and SPAM your friends. There are a few other bloggers out there helping to spread the word. Please do the same.
Spread the word to your friends on Myspace, Facebook, Hi5, where ever you network. Let’s get Fanbox to have to change their name again. They used to be sms.ac, until they got ferreted out. Cheers!
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