Archive for the ‘Social aspects’ Category

DoD conflicted about social media systems

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

The Department of Defense remains conflicted about their position on social media.

This past Sunday the US Marine Corps announced an immediate ban of Internet social networking sites on their NIPRNET network due to potential security risks. Specific examples of the sites now banned included facebook, myspace, and twitter.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tweeted yesterday.

“Obviously we need to find right balance between security and transparency. We are working on that. But am I still going to tweet? You bet.”

The comment also appeared on Admiral Mullen’s facebook page.

While it’s tempting to poke fun at the apparent contradictions involved, it’s easy to see a difference. Its well known that there are many vulnerabilities on the Web that can result in compromising a computer and that they are more likely to be encountered in open, popular environments, like social media systems. So it’s prudent to limit access to some of these from networks like NIPRNET that are used for sensitive information. On the other hand, we assume that the computer used by Admiral Mullen and his staff for public announcements and PR are on conventional networks, so the risks asscociated with security problems are greatly reduced.

Still, you have to admit that it’s ironic.

FaceBook default privacy policies changing

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

FaceBook is changing how it manages privacy starting today. After reading last week’s post on the FaceBook blog, More Ways to Share in the Publisher, and a followup note on ReadWriteWeb, A Closer Look at Facebook’s New Privacy Options, I thought I understood: Facebook was sharing more but only for people who have made their profiles public. From the official FaceBook post:

“We’ve received some questions in the comments about default privacy settings for this beta. Nothing has changed with your default privacy settings. The beta is only open to people who already chose to set their profile and status privacy to “Everyone.” For those people, the default for sharing from the Publisher will be the same. If you have your default privacy set to anything else—such as “Friends and Networks” or “Friends Only”—you are not part of this beta.”

But today the New York Times has an article, The Day Facebook Changed: Messages to Become Public by Default that clearly says more is coming (emphasis added):

“By default, all your messages on Facebook will soon be naked visible to the world. The company is starting by rolling out the feature to people who had already set their profiles as public, but it will come to everyone soon. You’ll be able each time you publish a message to change that message’s privacy setting and from that drop down there’s a link to change your default setting.

But most people will not change the setting. Facebook messages are about to be publicly visible. A whole lot of people are going to hate it. When ex-lovers, bosses, moms, stalkers, cops, creeps and others find out what people have been posting on Facebook – the reprimand that “well, you could have changed your default setting” is not going to sit well with people.”

But it will come to everyone soon! That’s a big change if true. I hope that there is come clarification soon from FaceBook. I, for one, am left confused.

In face, as the ReadWrite post notes, the FaceBook privacy policy interface is confusing and not easy to use.

“Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to manage the new privacy settings as they are currently constituted. Several members of our staff struggled to make changes to message-specific and default privacy settings really stick. The feature is confusing if not outright broken. A lot of messages intended for limited distribution are going to be sent out wider than the author intended. That’s not good.”

This is an important thing to get right.

The Social Hyperlink: Lada Adamic’s Hypertext’09 keynote

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

AISL CO-PI Lada Adamic gave a keynote talk at Hypertext’09, the 20th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia, held June 29 – July 1 in Trento. Lada’s talk, The Social Hyperlink, covered the influence of social networks on the World Wide Web, peer-to-peer systems, and virtual worlds. You can get her slides here.

Murat Kantarcioglu on Facebook Privacy Issues

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

KDAF-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth did a story on privacy and social media featuring an interview with Murat Kantarcioglu.

“Online Social Networks are redefining privacy and personal security, but how much of your personal life have you already given up? A professor at UT Dallas says chances are you’ve given up more than you know.

Analyzing covert social networks

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Science Daily notes a social networking paper that sounds interesting.

“A new approach to analyzing social networks, reported in the current issue of the International Journal of Services Sciences, could help homeland security find the covert connections between the people behind terrorist attacks. The approach involves revealing the nodes that act as hubs in a terrorist network and tracing back to individual planners and perpetrators.”

Yoshiharu Maeno, Yukio Ohsawa, Analyzing covert social network foundation behind terrorism disaster, nt. J. Services Sciences, 2009, 2, pp.125-141. (preprint).

Abstract: This paper addresses a method to analyse the covert social network foundation hidden behind the terrorism disaster. It is to solve a node discovery problem, which means to discover a node, which functions relevantly in a social network, but escaped from monitoring on the presence and mutual relationship of nodes. The method aims at integrating the expert investigator’s prior understanding, insight on the terrorists’ social network nature derived from the complex graph theory and computational data processing. The social network responsible for the 9/11 attack in 2001 is used to execute simulation experiment to evaluate the performance of the method.

Akshay on Twitter in the NYT

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

We were happy to see recent UMBC alumnus Akshay Java’s work on Twitter is mentioned in an article, Utility in the Jumble of Tweets, in yesterday’s New York Times.

“Some developers are creating tools to help companies keep an eye on the buzz. Akshay Java, a scientist at Microsoft, is trying to figure out a way to identify which experts are most influential on given topics by automatically analyzing the content of their tweets and who is in their Twitter network. Companies like Microsoft could use that information to figure out which twitterers they should contact to create buzz about a new product.”

Facebook backs down and reverts to old TOS policy

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Late last night Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a blog post, Update on Terms, that they have rolled back the recent changes to their Terms of Service agreement and restored the previous one.

“Many of us at Facebook spent most of today discussing how best to move forward. One approach would have been to quickly amend the new terms with new language to clarify our positions further. Another approach was simply to revert to our old terms while we begin working on our next version. As we thought through this, we reached out to respected organizations to get their input.

Going forward, we’ve decided to take a new approach towards developing our terms. We concluded that returning to our previous terms was the right thing for now. As I said yesterday, we think that a lot of the language in our terms is overly formal and protective so we don’t plan to leave it there for long.”

The NYT reported the change in a story today, Facebook Withdraws Changes in Data Use.

In his post, Zuckerberg continued by observing that with 175 million members, if it were a country, it would be the sixth most populated one in the world. Of course, sometimes a population revolts and lays claim to certain unalienable rights, among theme being life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and ownership of one’s online content.

So, the missing clause is back in the FB TOS:

“You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.”

This revision is dated 23 September 2008. Curiously, I checked the Internet Archive to review the history of FB’s TOS but found that there are no archived copies after 12 October 2007. I can only imagine that FB asked the Internet Archive to stop saving copies of this public page. I note that the last archived copies of many of their public pages (e.g., privacy policy, developers page, etc.) are also from 2007. These pages are not blocked by the FB robots.txt and are normally accessible to anyone, so it must be by a specific request that they not be archived.

That’s too bad. Having an easy way to see how the policies of important social sites like FB evolve would be a great resource to those who study online social media as well as to many curious users.

DHS to mine social media for terrorism relatated data

Monday, January 5th, 2009

USA Today reports (Feds may mine blogs for terrorism clues) that the US Department of Homeland Security wants to use data-mining technology to search blogs and Internet message boards to find those used by terrorists to plan attacks.

“Blogging and message boards have played a substantial role in allowing communication among those who would do the United States harm,” DHS said in a recent notice.

Julian Sanchez notes on Ars Technica that the story is not new.

“The story is actually pegged to a Sources Sought Notice posted by the Department of Homeland Security back in October. Our colleagues at Wired reported on it at the time.”

Lada Adamic receives Douglas Engelbart Best Paper Award

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

AISL CO-PI Lada Adamic received the Douglas Engelbart Best Paper award for a paper co-authored with her Ph.D. students Xiaolin Shi and Matthew Bonner.

Xiaolin Shi, Matthew Bonner, Lada Adamic and Anna Gilbert. The Very Small World of the Well-Connected, Proceedings of the nineteenth ACM conference on Hypertext and hypermedia, Pittsburgh, pp. 61-70, 2008.

The Douglas Engelbart Best Paper Award is given for best paper presented at the annual ACM SIGWEB Hypertext Conference. The award is named after Douglas C. Engelbart, in recognition of his life’s work and contributions to the field of hypertext and hypermedia.