This from the nytimes bits blog. Facebook is attempting to clarify their privacy settings. Now when you post something, you’ll have the option to choose who sees each particular post – the public, friends, or custom made (spherical-shaped) groups. The changes are supposed to roll out on Thursday.
In other news, nothing much else has changed about Facebook and they still make money off the data they keep from spying on their users.
In 2009, 45 percent of employers were using social media to screen applicants, according to a CareerBuilder survey. That number has likely increased since.
An interesting infographic in The Atlantic describes what employers find objectionable about a potential hire’s use of social media:
Content about using drugs or drinking alcohol.
Bad-mouthing previous employers or co-workers.
Evidence of poor communication skills.
Along with aspects employers liked to see:
Offers a good feel for the candidate’s personality.
Shows evidence of creativity.
Exhibited solid communication skills.
Discovered good references about the candidate from others.
Therese Fowler’s third novel Exposure blends a Romeo and Juliet inspired love story with a modern day high school drama, complete with Facebook and sexting. The well-written, fast-paced novel tells the story of two high school teenagers, Anthony and Amelia. Both attend an expensive private school in North Carolina. Both are madly in love with each other. Both hide their relationship from friends and especially Amelia’s father, Harlan, a strict, self-made millionaire car dealer, who would flip if he knew his daughter was dating anyone, let alone, Anthony, the son of Spanish teacher and single mother Kim.
Everything is going okay for the pair as they eagerly await graduation from high school and Amelia’s 18th birthday, after which they are free to be together openly, to move to New York together and to study theatre at university. But things soon take a turn for the worse when Amelia and Anthony trade naked pictures of each other via text message. Harlan discovers the photos on her daughter’s laptop, calls the cops, and uses his power and influence to turn local law enforcement, the national media and a zealous prosecutor on Anthony. The plot hinges on Amelia’s age. Because she is 17, Anthony faces child pornography charges and serious jail time from their “sexting”.
The central premise of the novel – that an underaged teen could face child pornography charges for sending photos to their boyfriend or girlfriend – stems from an actual experience of Fowler’s when her then 19-year-old son had been arrested on a misdemeanour charge for emailing nude photos of himself to a 16-year-old female friend. Told from the perspective of all the characters involved, the story is an entertaining read even if the ending is a bit far-fetched. It also serves as a cautionary tale to underaged teens thinking of sending sexually-explicit images of themselves online or by phone.
A law in Missouri was recently passed that makes it illegal for teachers to be “friends” with students on any social networking site that allows private communication. Here’s the complete story from NPR news. The larger bill was passed with great support because it was designed to protect children from predatory teachers.
But as one teacher points out, a teacher’s job is to reach out to students and that means going where they are. Today, students do not use email as much and have instead turned to social networking sites to communicate. Instead of protecting children, the new law may be hurting them by limiting a students ability to contact teachers if they need help.
If you’ve ever Googled yourself, searched pipl.com or scoped out MIT’s Personas than it’s likely you’ve come across some interesting results – Since when is my MySpace profile from high school the only proof of my existence online? Who’s this B-list celebrity with my same name and an arrest record? Where’s the blog that I update regularly?
Keeping tabs on your online identity is a good practice. Remembering to periodically enter search terms about yourself can feel tedious though. Not to mention narcissistic. Enter “Me on the Web” from Google.
This new service, available to anyone with a Google account, can alert you when your personal information is published online. It’s similar to setting a Google alert with your name as a search term. “Me on the Web” allows for as many search terms as you like – your name, phone number, address, anything. When new content about you is posted online, you can choose to be alerted by email as it happens, or once a day or week. Then it’s up to you what to do about it. Google offers tips for managing your online reputation and removing unwanted content from the web.
This summer UBC IT services will be switching student email away from NetInfo/Interchange email. Instead, UBC will offer two new optional services – an alias email address and a mailbox service hosted by an external provider. Which provider UBC will work with is not known at this point. The change comes at a time when many universities across Canada have switched to cloud-based email services hosted by Google, Microsoft or Zimbra/Scalar – an email solution hosted in Canada.
The reasons for the switch? Cloud-based email services are cheaper and more convenient, with fewer university resources devoted to maintaining and upgrading email servers and software. The email services also come with useful contacts, and calendaring systems, supporting a range of devices from desktops to smartphones. And unlike a standard gmail account, the service offered by to the university does not permit advertising or data mining of student information by the company.
Another perk is that with the switch, which applies only to students not faculty and staff, students will be able to keep their UBC email address for life.
In light of these changes, here are some important points to keep in mind (some courtesy of the University of Alberta, which is switching to gmail):
- Email is, by nature, insecure. While in transit and on servers email is often unencrypted. A good rule of thumb is to consider email communication as private as a cell phone call made in public. If you absolutely must send highly confidential information over the Internet, consider putting that information on a secure web page and sending a link to it instead.
Information held in an email account has no guaranteed privacy. Any email exists not only in the account it has been sent to, but also in the account it was sent from, in any accounts to which it was forwarded, and likely on many servers.
If email is stored on servers in the U.S., it is subject to the U.S. Patriot Act. The Patriot Act allows a US government agency to collect personal information per a court order or by issuing a national security letter as a result of a terrorism investigation. Both these methods do not require the person to be notified if their information is accessed. If the information resides on Canadian servers, the US government would need to approach the Canadian government for access.
Despite these cautions, email is a fantastic tool, one that can facilitate communication and enhance learning at the university.