Tag Archives: Privacy

Privacy and your increasing Internet presence

We all worry about privacy and how much information government has on us. The risks of the government losing  disks with our id or passwords, software companies being hacked for their user data and social engineering to persuade employees to reveal all.

But how much do we inadvertently reveal online? An interesting infographic from Visual.ly shows that the internet knows a lot more about you than you think.  The complete infographic is here – but I’ve snipped a section to show where Facebook encourages us to share far too much.


Never put your real birthdate on Facebook or other social media sites. Vary the date of your birth by a few days either side. Adjust the year. People will not be able to get your social security number without your real birthdate.

Do not advertise that you are home alone. With all of the other data on you, it would be easy to come by your home when you are alone – or worse – when you have logged in to another place.

Watch what your children post. You might be keeping details about your home life private – but watch out for what your offspring are sharing with the world – without a secured timeline.

We look at our mobile device or our laptop like it is our cherished friend. We share things with our friends – our best friends.  Little do we realise that bit by bit our digital footprint is growing and sharing more and more about our personalities and the way we live our lives.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.  Connect with Eileen on Twitter and  or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.


Job seekers: 5 tips to protect your online brand

imageYou are at home. You are browsing the web looking for your next role. You are online anyway, so you turn to your social media platforms to update your status.

After all, you now have time to focus on your friends.

But beware of oversharing. You might want to maintain a certain persona online whilst being different offline.

The 2012 annual technology market survey conducted by Eurocom Worldwide shows that almost 40% of respondents’ companies check out potential employees’ profiles on social media sites.

The report also says that a candidate’s social media profile has caused them not to hire that person.

“The fact that one in five applicants disqualify themselves from an interview because of content in the social media sphere is a warning to job seekers and a true indicator of the digital reality we now live in,” said Mads Christensen, Network Director at Eurocom Worldwide.

There are some hard and fast rules for keeping the right items private.

Your Facebook Profile image is Public. Facebook says that ‘Your name, gender, username, and user ID (account number), along with your profile picture, cover photo, and networks (if you choose to add these) are available to anyone’. Make sure that the image is suitable.

Facebook Public Status updates change the default setting. If you choose Public for a post, your next post will also be Public unless you change this audience when you post.

Don’t Friend colleagues – or your boss.  70 per cent of young professionals on the Cisco Connected World tech report have friended people at their company. This could lead to disciplinary action if you share something you shouldn’t.

Keep your work and personal profiles separate. If you have two Twitter profiles, make sure you never talk about work on your personal profile. Direct any potential employers to your professional profile

Control your syndication settings. Beware of linking Facebook and Twitter together, or using a tool to update LinkedIn. Control what you post, where you post, when you post.

Try to give a positive impression on your online profile, so that when recruiters look for candidates, you are online, active and have a strong positive brand.  There is no need to stay silent if you manage your online activities carefully.

If in doubt – don’t post…

Image Credit: Alex E. Proimos


Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Big Brother mobile device in our pockets

File:Nokia Lumia 800.jpgFolks don’t like the idea of having their movements stalked by cameras or tracking devices – and yet we willingly carry round a device that has been tracking everything we do.

And we use that device in preference to other devices such as watches, PC’s and cameras – devices without tracking information embedded into the device.

So why are we so happy to carry around devices that are constantly monitoring us?

Information about our whereabouts can come in useful when we are trying to find our lost phones.  The Find my phone feature on the Nokia Lumia is particularly handy.

Location information can also be very useful to the police or the emergency services who can use the device data for pinpointing the location of someone who may have been injured and called for help.  Location information from mobile phones certainly helped to find the murderer of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman as the device recorded the last cell connecting to the phone.

Information about the cell log on, cell access, and the last location of the cell before the phone is switched off gives vital clues in the hunt for evidence in cases such as these.

Frictionless sharing helps us automatically let our friends and colleagues know what we have been doing.  Now frictionless data from our phones, can help advertisers give us targeted adverts and services that we should want.

Apple users were annoyed to discover that the iPhone tracked their location and that a security flaw could mean that data might get into the wrong hands. The data could be accessed without needing a court order.

And we use our phones data plan a lot:


Minutes per day

Browsing the internet


Checking social networks


Playing games


Listening to music


Making calls


Checking/writing emails


Text messaging


Watching TV/films


Reading books


Taking photographs





According to this survey from 02, we spend over 53 minutes per day either browsing, using social networks or reading and writing emails.  And we use our phones more often than other devices.  The O2 survey also shows us which devices we are turning away from:

  • Over half (54%) say they use their phones in place of an alarm clock
  • Almost half (46%) have dispensed with a watch in favour of using their smartphone
  • Two-in-five (39%) have switched to use their phone instead of a separate camera
  • Over one quarter use their phone instead of a laptop (28%)
  • One in ten have got shot of a games console in favour of their handset (11%)
  • One in twenty smartphone users have switched to use their phone in place of a TV (6%) or reading physical books (6%)

So there are good and bad reasons for having a tracking device monitoring your whereabouts and location.  We blithely accept location access from our devices – yet we complain about invasion of our privacy and intrusion. We want to keep our kids safe – and yet we want to have the privacy we need.

Is there a balance?  Can we rely on the police and emergency services to respect that our data is never shared with any third parties – unless we need  to rely on their services?

Or do we accept that in our always on, 24 x 7 state, someone is watching our every move – just in case…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Credit: Kiwi Flickr

Frictionless sharing and the implications of ‘Intellectual Privacy’

imageIf you have ever been slightly disturbed by sharing information about your location, the movies you watch and the books you read, take care with what you write. 

Frictionless sharing will share information about your activities amongst your Facebook friends without you even knowing that it is happening.

But if we are subconsciously sharing something that we might not want to share, should this give us cause for concern? 

I recently unfriended a friend on Facebook to show her what total strangers could see about her activities. 

She was worried that one of her ex-partners knew way too much about her. It was disturbing her.

This ex had even called one of my friends connections to shout and rage about a comment that the connection had posted on my friend’s Facebook feed. 

This was an invasion of her privacy and needed to be addressed by removing everything from her public timeline and setting strong default settings. Now she can relax.

Frictionless sharing, whilst different to privacy gives rise to similar feelings. But is frictionless sharing healthy or are we peeking into private lives

The Kurzweil blog talks about intellectual privacy – the ability to think for ourselves.  If our friends know what we read then the fear of being judged for the things we read and watch might stop us from being inquisitive and curious about the world we live in.

Perhaps we should share in a better way. According to Neil Richards in his paper ‘The Perils of Social Reading’ we are setting a worrying precedent for the future.

Thinking about our social sharing activities, the paper says:

Social reading takes us a step further. Not only are our friends with us when we watch movies at the cinema, but they’re now there when we watch movies on our computers, and also when we read on our computers. They never leave.

An always-on regime of “frictionless sharing” means we are always at the movies with our friends, even when we don’t want to be.

It means we’ll always watch the movie they choose, and we won’t choose the movie we want to see if they’d make fun of us for it. We might never get to see that film we’re curious but shy about.

This is the case whether our film is fluffy like “Gnomeo and Juliet,” political like “Bowling for Columbine,” racy like “Black Swan,” or something even more explicit.

If we’re always with our friends, we’re never alone, and we never get to explore ideas for ourselves. Of course, the stakes here go beyond movies, to reading, web-surfing, and even thinking.

Inadvertent disclosure of something that we might not want to share will cause us friction in making efforts to ensure that our information is not broadcast without our consent. The app is broadcasting information without our explicit consent.  Is this undermining our right to privacy?

Millennials might scoff at our need to keep things private.  They were born into an age of sharing everything they do with their friends.

But as job offers get withdrawn due to embarrassing Facebook posts and authorities question your choices of name and hobbies, it becomes good to have your own head space.

Having our own private space will slow down the prophetic scenario forecast by George Orwell in his Book, 1984 and give us somewhere to be our real selves

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Credit: katerha


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Keeping your information away from Facebook apps

If you are concerned about Facebook using even more of your data to repopulate applications and friend information, then here is another setting that you need to change.

Hot on the heels of Facebook’s privacy policy alteration, is a new setting about apps.  Look at Home| Privacy settings |Apps games and websites| Edit settings.

Checked information is what other apps can see of your data.  See below:


If you don’t want other apps seeing so much information about you, then uncheck the boxes next to information you don’t want to share.  Are  you Sharing more than you thought on Facebook?  It might be worth your while checking around your privacy settings to make sure that you only share what you intend to share…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


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Are we the same person online and offline?

Heck no.


I craft my online words to create an impression of me that I want you to see.  I want you to believe that I truly am the person in my tweets, my blog posts, my Facebook and LinkedIn profile.  But is is the real me?

I’m sure I’m a much nicer person online than I am offline.  I’m always cheerful online, helpful, friendly and kind.  I try to write warm witty and wise blog posts – with the emphasis on the warm.  I don’t want you to know when I’m having a bad day.

I don’t want you to know when I’m feeling vulnerable, scared, sad, lonely, insecure or down.  I want you to see ability,  stability, confidence, employability, hireability.

But is it healthy?

Forbes splits this ‘split personality’ behaviour straight down the middle.  Some women are truly authentic online,  such as Penelope Trunk who pours out her life on her blog.   Others are less authentic online. I probably fall into this camp.  I try to use Paretos 80:20 rule for my online activities.  I’m 80% authentic – keeping the 20% for face to face conversations with offline friends.

Some keep their professional lives totally separate from their personal musings on Facebook.  One of my good friends uses Facebook entirely for the business connections it brings her.  She knows she needs to have a Facebook profile, but she doesn’t update it at all, and yet she has thousands of Facebook Friends.

Some use Facebook to keep in touch with colleagues, some with close friends and family.  I’m still connected to lots of my ex Microsoft colleagues on Facebook.  some are friends, some mere acquaintances.  I mix my Facebook conversation from professional to personal musings.  My Facebook Page however, gets only the business relatedor book related updates. My Facebook profile gets the more honest updates.

But event these updates aren’t truly ‘authentic’

The updates are a nicer, better version of me  — the me, I’d like you to see.  The me, perhaps I’d truly like to be.

But are we sharing too much?

Perhaps we don’t want to know what our friends are reading using the frictionless sharing feature on Facebook.  Are we oversharing or peeking into private lives?  Some people think that they are chatting to just one friend when they post updates on Facebook and are not careful what they post.

Perhaps I’ll stick to outpourings of angst, anger and ire when I’m offline.  Where no one can hear my miserable ranting, emotional outbursts and weeping.

Would it make me a better person online if I shared more? Or would reading these ramblings only serve to reduce your opinion of me – or anyone else that overshares their life?

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: misteraitch


Oops. Be very careful what you post on Facebook

Oh dear.  I’m convinced that people think that they are talking to their best friends when they chat on Facebook.  They forget that some of their ‘friends’ have screen grab software such as the Snipping tool, to take a screenshot of their foolishness.

And people just can’t be that dumb can they??

The Buzzfeed important lessons learned post has some howlers – and there’s more from the Failblog….  



Oops.  Things are never as secure as you think they are.  Facebook is NOT private.  just don’t say anything that you don’t want to have quoted back to you in a court of law…


Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


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