Stop the Press!! Facebook Places

You may have heard about about Facebook’s newest endeavor – Facebook Places.  Along with this comes the inevitable hubbub over Facebook changing privacy defaults, who can see your information, etc.  Considering Facebook’s history, this concern is certainly justifiable.  In this case, however, there is really no cause for alarm.

First, what exactly is Facebook Places?  Simply put, it’s an application for smart phones (I think it’s currently only for the iPhone) that lets you “check in” to different places.  Why would you do that?  Well, the Facebook blog has an entry on the whole thing but it’s basically a way for you to let your friends know where you are in the off chance that someone else is there too, or you simply want people to know in order to feed your egostic and their voyeuristic ways.  But I digress….

The concern comes by tossing in a little misinformation with some already-on-edge doubt about Facebook’s privacy policies and you have a recipe for hastily forwarded e-mails.  The main gist of the concerns I’ve read is that anyone can now see where you are logged in, complete with address and map.  Are you logged in at home?  All your friends know where you are.  Logged in at the library?  Better hope your friends aren’t the loud, partying kind since they know where to find you and could show up at your bookshelf any minute.  Or perhaps that devious friend of yours has been waiting to break into your house while you’re away.  Now they know when to strike!

All of this is, of course, entirely false, tongue firmly planted in cheek.  As mentioned before, this application is only for smart phones and only for those people who actively choose to “check in” to various places.   If you don’t update via phone, don’t worry about it.  If you do update by phone, but choose not to use the application, don’t worry about it.  Actually, I do need to add that someone else can tag you at a certain place but there’s really nothing you can do about that.  Except maybe ask not to be tagged.

One other thing to mention is that usually in the forwarded e-mails or Facebook statuses, there are directions to “opt out” of this terrible violation of privacy.  The directions, while technically true, only give half the steps.  If you don’t want to be notified when someone tags you at a place or comments on your visit to a place, do the following:  go to Account, Account Settings, Notifications, scroll to Places (near the bottom) and uncheck the two boxes.  Be sure to click Save.  But remember, this simply stops you from being notified via e-mail when someone tags you at a place.  This does not change who sees where you “check in” to, in the event you choose to participate in Places.  The default setting for this is “Friends Only” but if you want to change this or double check, go to Account, Privacy Settings, click on Customize Settings.  Near the bottom, you can change the “Places I check in to” to whomever you want to see your places.

And that’s all for this edition of Stop the Press!!  Join us next week as we look at whether or not to go ballistic over a certain thing being proposed in NY.  (JUST KIDDING!!  There’s no way I’m going near that discussion.  Even I have my limits.)


On my shelf

Having just finished my 20th book for the year, I thought I’d stop and give a brief run down of the books in my “to be read” pile.  Thanks to a multitude of book review programs and access to some free books at work, the pile is growing faster than I can read the books!  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  So here’s my reading list:

  1. The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis – I found the Focus On the Family Radio Theatre dramatization at my local library and decided to check it out.  Half way through and so far it’s very good.  Andy Serkis (who also did Gollum) does an incredible Screwtape.
  2. Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House, by Sally Bedell Smith – this is the first book on a president that I’ve been able to get to this year.  So far, not doing well on the president’s list.
  3. Homeschooling for the Rest of Us, by Sonya Haskins – a book from Bethany House’s book review program.
  4. What Your  Son Isn’t Telling You, by Michael Ross & Susie Shellenberger – another book from Bethany House.
  5. Bringing Up Girls, by Dr. James Dobson – the long-awaited “sequel” to Dobson’s Bringing Up Boys.  Never read the first one so not sure on what to expect in this one.  This is from Tyndale’s review program.
  6. Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction, by Dr. Robert Kellemen & Karole A Edwards – this one has been on my shelf for awhile, but hasn’t quite made it to the top.
  7. Sacred Friendships: Celebrating the Legacy of Women Heroes of the Faith, by Dr. Robert Kellemen & Susan Ellis.
  8. Devoted: The Story of a Father’s Love for His Son, by Dick Hoyt & Don Yaeger – I’m looking forward to this book about the Father/Son team more commonly known as Team Hoyt.
  9. How Lincoln Learned to Read, Daniel Wolff
  10. Billy Graham: His Life and Influence, by David Aikman – this also looks to be an interesting biography from Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze review program of “America’s Pastor” . (Sorry, but Rick Warren’s got a long way to go before he can earn that title)

And that’s the list – for now.

Music Monday – Um, what?

And now for something completely different.

I don’t think I’ve ever featured a commercial on Music Monday before, but this “music video” by Toyota is just too good/funny to pass up.   This one’s for all my peeps, yo.

Flashback Week – Rip-roaring Trends

[originally posted on May 16, 2008]

Ever notice that trends and fads are usually of a nature that requires you not to think about them for too long? This is because if you do think about it, you’ll easily convince yourself that it ranks high on the list of dumbest things you’ve ever experienced.

Take, for example, the desire to display perfectly good objects as broken, torn, smashed, ripped, cracked, faded or any other form of imperfection. I have no idea when this started, but perhaps it all began when Og the Caveman returned home after a grueling mammoth hunt, his primitive saber-toothed-tiger-hair outfit torn to shreds. His friends see this and Og’s social standing immediately skyrockets since everyone now knows he survived the ordeal, but was close enough to ruin his good hunting cloths. Either that, or Mrs. Og thought “My, how hot is that?!” Before you could say Archaeopteryx, everyone was clamoring for the torn look and the rest is history.

Fast forward a few thousand (or million, depending on your view of earth’s age, but anyway) years and young people still pay big money for jeans that look like they’re ready to be thrown out. Unfortunately, as this generation aged, the need for social acceptance based on wild and crazy hunts didn’t go away. True, they don’t go around wearing jeans with huge holes in the knees (factory installed) anymore, but now this need manifests itself in other ways. Now they sport fake bullet holes on their car, apparently still trying to convey the image that they’ve had a dangerous run in (with someone who obviously can’t shoot) and have lived to tell the tale. Or perhaps instead of the bullet holes, they have a sticker on their window making it look like someone put a baseball halfway through the window. I’m not exactly sure how wanting people to believe your car window has been smashed by an errant baseball fits in with the whole “moving-on-up-the-social-standing-ladder” theory, but I’m working on it. I haven’t done a demographic study of the kind of people who usually have such stickers, but I’d be willing to guess that these are the people who probably wouldn’t be anywhere near a sporting event where there would be a chance of a wayward ball hurtling through their window, but at the same time they want to appear cool.

Computers are by no means exempt. Thanks to Stumbleupon (a very cool Firefox feature, by the way), I came across this article detailing how to create your very own “Sawed Off USB Key.” Why would someone want a computer accessory that looked like a ripped cable and had the potential of being tossed in the trash? Og had no idea what he started.

But of course, my first reaction was “Whoa, how cool is that?!” Then I made the mistake of thinking about it for more than 15 seconds and behold, this blog post was born.

Which table would you rather sit in on?

Here’s a very fascinating scenario.  Which table would you rather sit at and why?

At Table 1, you’ve got (clockwise from the top) Eisenhower, T. Roosevelt, Nixon, Ford, Lincoln, Bush Sr., Reagan, & Bush Jr.

At Table 2, there is (clockwise from the top) Clinton, Wilson, L. Johnson, Truman, Jackson, F. Roosevelt, Carter, & Kennedy.

HT: James.

Bloggers, Freebies and the FTC

FTC issues rules to end ‘blogger payola’

Bloggers — particularly “mommy bloggers” — must now disclose freebies or money they receive to review products or risk an $11,000 fine per post, the Federal Trade Commission announced today. It’s the first attempt to regulate what’s known as “blogger payola.”

The rules take effect Dec. 1. Bloggers or advertisers also could face injunctions and be ordered to reimburse consumers for financial losses stemming from product reviews deemed inappropriate.

The FTC said disclosures must be “clear and conspicuous” but did not specifically state how conflicts of interest must be disclosed.

An FTC spokesman said the commission will more likely go after advertisers instead of bloggers, except for those who runs a “substantial” operation that violates FTC rules and already have received a warning.

Here are relevant paragraphs from the FTC’s news release:

Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides — which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” — the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.

The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement — like any other advertisement — is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

The FTC spokesman offered this example of what would not be a violation: someone who gets a free bag of dog food as part of a broad promotion from a pet shop and writes about the product on a blog.

ReadWriteWeb addresses the difficulty in policing unscrupulous bloggers and advertisers:

While the FTC will obviously have a hard time enforcing these regulations, there can be no doubt that marketers regularly approach independent bloggers (and especially mommy bloggers) with freebies. When bloggers accept these exchanges, they may not always disclose them in the posts that result. So, while bloggers who are involved in these schemes often tend to say that they would have reviewed the product anyway or that their reviews are often critical, there can be little doubt that payments and freebies influence these stories.

These new rules and rather large fines should bring some bloggers and marketers into line, though others will surely continue to push the ethical boundaries. And blogging Payola is unlikely to go away completely because of these new rules.

Federal rules already ban deceptive and unfair business practices. It’s the first time since 1980 that the FTC revised the guidelines on endorsements and testimonials.

A Change of Scenery

Welcome to my new and (hopefully) improved blog!  I’ve decided to move my blog from the Blogspot platform to WordPress.  I like the look and feel of WordPress much better than Blogspot.  I’m still working out some changes, additions, etc, so don’t mind any construction dust.  Any comments or suggestions for improvement are always welcome.  Any RSS users out there, don’t forget to change your settings.