Social Media After Death

Social Media After DeathAs of this year, at least 2.34 billion people worldwide are social media users. In the United States alone, 79% of people have a social media profile. Something we don’t really think about when signing up for these accounts is what will happen to them when we pass away. Should we write your passwords down somewhere? Can someone gain access to them after we’re gone? What happens to your social media after death? It is reported that around 8,000 Facebook users die every day. It’s important that policies and protocols are put into place.

Facebook & Instagram

Facebook and Instagram are the only major social media platforms that “memorialize” your account.

Memorialized Facebook

With Facebook, you can set up a “legacy contact”. This is the person who will manage your account after you’re gone. To set up your legacy contact, go into your Facebook general settings and select Manage Account and choose the person to take this role. As seen in this screenshot, the person you choose to be your legacy contact will not be able to post as you or read your messages. If you don’t want to have a legacy contact, you can also request for your account to be deleted when the time comes. To request for an account to be memorialized, contact Facebook here.

Instagram does things a little bit different. There is no legacy contact that can manage your account for you when you die. Once a family or friend sends a report and the account is memorialized, it appears mostly the same. However, the account will not show up as a recommendation anywhere on the app (such as in the explore section). Nothing can be deleted or changed on the account after it is memorialized.

Other Platforms

For most other social media platforms (including Twitter), there are no memorialized profiles, therefore a family member has to request the removal of a deceased user’s account. In general, social media platforms will never give login details to anyone but the account owner, even immediate family members. This would violate most terms of service. If you want someone to have full access to your social media, it may be smart for you to put this in writing with something like a digital will. This will hand over ownership of your accounts after you pass away. This helps avoid violating any terms of service.

Computers and Devices

That great password you’ve set up on your computer or device to keep others out will do just that after your death. As a rule, device manufacturers will not grant access to others to get around your pass codes and passwords. Keep in mind many of your online accounts also have 2-factor authentication too. Banks and other service providers are happy to work with whoever holds your power of attorney posthumously, but email accounts and other online accounts will need to be accessed with the information you leave in your digital will.

Though it may be odd, it is important to have a plan for what happens to your social media and online accounts after death. Set up your legacy contact on Facebook today. Also, inform your friends and family by sharing this with them! Subscribe to our bi-weekly e-newsletter for more helpful information like this!


Facebook login page

How Does Facebook Know Everything About Me?

You may have noticed Facebook and its subsidiaries (Instagram, Messenger, etc.) seem to know exactly what you’re thinking and saying. It’s almost like Facebook is listening in on our private lives. There are a few resources that Facebook uses to achieve this level of creepiness.

Facebook Has Its Sources

Privacy International conducted a report in December 2018 on apps that instantly send information to Facebook whether you’re logged in or even have an account at all. Research in the past has shown that up to 42.55% of free apps on the Google Play store alone share data with Facebook.

The report addresses how app developers use Facebook’s software development kit (SDK) to track and transmit your information to them. 34 apps, all with between 10 and 500 million installs each, were analyzed for this report. All were found to transmit data to Facebook. 61% of the apps send information as soon as they’re launched. This data is sent to Facebook along with a unique Google Advertising ID which can be used to link user behavior between different apps to build an in-depth profile. All of the info sent from the apps you use combined with your internet browsing habits can flesh out an extremely detailed profile.

Permission Granted

Let’s be honest, most of us have taken at least one of those “harmless” Facebook quizzes before. You see your friends and family sharing their results constantly. It plagues your time line. But is it just the results to the quiz that are being shared, strictly with friends? You would think so – and hope so.

NameTests is a huge Facebook quiz platform. It was found that up to 120 million people’s information was being exposed due to a security flaw. This was the case for years. Information like names, birth dates, photos, and statuses were all exposed. This flaw is demonstrated here. A random website linked to NameTests with an access token from Facebook would be able to pull information for up to two months, even after the user deleted NameTests from their profile.

Turn Off Facebook Permissions

To protect yourself as much as possible, it is probably smart to clean up your Facebook permissions periodically. This will help you know exactly what each app and game you use with Facebook has permission to do.

  1. Next to the notification and quick help button in the top right corner of Facebook, hit the dropdown and click Settings (second from the bottom).Click dropdown button
  2. On the sidebar to the left, the last section contains Apps and Websites, Instant Games, and Business Integration. Click on each and complete steps 3 and 4 for all of them.
    Look at enabled apps
  3. Go through all the apps and websites displayed and get rid of the ones you don’t use.Remove app
  4. Click View and edit to review what the apps you use have permission to do.View and edit permissions
    Edit current permissions

Another thing to look out for is permissions that mobile apps ask for. Most people don’t think twice before giving the OK to install an app on their phone. A lot of apps these days will randomly request access to your microphone, camera, contacts, and more when it’s not really necessary. Usually, you will be able to turn some of those permissions off. Google Play Store users have to be especially careful. This is because it is easier for a malicious app to get listed on Google’s Play Store than it is with Apple’s App Store.

Should You Leave Facebook?

With everything we’ve talked about here AND last year’s security fiasco, it is completely reasonable to contemplate this. Facebook has always been a fantastic tool for keeping in touch with friends and family. It’s useful when looking for old friends or trying to read the latest update from your favorite restaurant. Businesses can connect and networking has never been easier than it is now. The cons are the security risks. Can we trust Facebook to keep our information private? Can we trust Facebook to tell us when there is a security issue? For some people, these problems are huge. If you’re looking to leave Facebook, you have a couple of options.

How to Deactivate Your Facebook Profile

This option is for those who may contemplate returning to the site someday. Deactivating will hide your profile entirely, apart from your name in your friends’ friend lists and previous messages that you’ve sent to friends. You can reactivate just by logging back in.

To deactivate your account, click this link and select the FIRST option that says “Deactivate Account”. You’ll be prompted to type in your password to continue.

How to Delete Your Facebook Profile

Before you go through with deleting your account, you might want to download your information. There is no getting it back after you click that final button. Also, any apps or websites you log into with Facebook may also be deleted. Change your login information on those sites first, if possible.

When you’re ready to proceed, Click this link, and at the bottom, click Delete Account. Facebook gives you a few day grace period to log back in and cancel your deletion. After that, they say it can take up to 3 months to fully erase your information from Facebook servers, although you’re completely untraceable on the platform.

In the end, we can’t be sure exactly what is happening to our information beyond deletion since this only removes your data from Facebook’s servers and not 3rd parties which may have already saved it off site. The best thing to do is to be selective about what you share, what you download and what information you hand over to 3rd party websites and apps.

cell phone witmobile websiteh wood background

Mobile Friendly Websites Are A Must

Mobile Friendly Websites Are A Must

It’s official – internet traffic from mobile devices has surpassed traffic from desktop systems. That may or may not surprise you. If you need help suspending your doubt, simply open your mobile’s app library. You’ll soon notice that a vast number of apps rely on internet access to varying degrees. From social media platforms to workplace productivity applications, more and more of the global digital landscape is trending toward mobile-first usage. As this trend continues, ensuring your website is mobile friendly is more vital to your success than ever before.

Social Media And Mobile Traffic

Love it or hate it, social media has had a profound influence on the traffic shift from desktop to mobile. Two platforms – Facebook and YouTube – presently make up over 30% of mobile traffic. Though the day’s preferred platform is constantly in flux, people are spending more time on social media overall. Every major social media hub is geared toward mobile-first access. For example, have you ever tried using Instagram on a proper computer? Better yet, you’ll need a pile of good luck to send your next snap story from a computer, as SnapChat is mobile-exclusive as far as real usage is concerned. This increased attention on social media is impacting time spent on mobile devices. Meeting your customers where they spend time is common sense in the world of business marketing. Don’t focus on desktop tuning while your next customer is checking out the competition from their smart phone.

Similarly, social media has become a powerful tool for brand engagement and customer relations. Consumers expect the brands they support to be attuned to their needs and wants, and assume they can easily move between the digital places controlled by those brands. Part of that assumption is derived from the expectation that websites can be easily navigated on mobile devices. According to a 2016 study conducted by Google, 53% of mobile customers will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Accordingly, this has a direct affect on a site’s bounce-rate and packs a punch when looking at search engine ranking results.

Mobile Online Buying and Selling

For e-commerce sites, mobile optimization is crucial to success. Large retailers like eBay and Amazon have even developed mobile apps to allow users to easily access every feature of their site! Seamless shopping allows customers to add an item to their cart on a desktop and complete the purchase from a hand held device. Mobile optimized sites streamline the purchase process and encourage shoppers to spend more. Nearly 8 in 10 mobile shoppers report spending more time and making more impulse buys on device friendly websites.

Trends to Consider for Mobile Friendly Sites in 2018

Beyond the numerous reasons to optimize your website for mobile, it is essential to understand how to make the most of it:

Stop waiting to fine tune your website for mobile navigation – just do it!
Reach out to us today to learn more about making your website mobile-friendly.


How the Internet Helps in a Crisis

Everyone has heard about the recent Paris Attacks on November 13th. Many people have found that the Internet helps in a crisis. The Internet can help to coordinate relief efforts while providing essential communication services to the unfortunate individuals involved in a disaster.

Google Crisis

internet helps in a crisisGoogle has created some powerful tools to help save the day in times of crisis.

Crisis Response – Because Google’s crisis response team analyzes each crisis, each response may be slightly different.
A specific response may include:

  • Creating a Resource Page – This is a simple web page containing the most relevant emergency information and tools available for a given crisis.
  • Launching Google Person Finder – This is an application which connects friends and loved ones following a disaster. This is useful when there is a large number of missing people and traditional communication lines are unavailable.
    • How it works: Google’s Person Finder page lists current disasters. Click on a disaster and you can then choose from either “I’m looking for someone” or “I have information about someone”.internet helps in a crisis
  • internet helps in a crisisHosting a Crisis Map – This is a map that displays information concerning the disaster such as storm paths, flood zones, evacuation routes, shelter locations, and power outages. This includes official content and user-generated content.

Tools For Responders – Do you think your organization may be able to help in a disaster? Google also provides some tools for responders.

  • Google Public Alerts – An organization can send emergency alerts if they are relevant to an ongoing crisis. These alerts will appear on Google’s search results, maps, and android devices (using Google Now).
  • Person Finder – This can be embedded into your company’s website.
  • Crisis Map – This can be embedded in your company’s website.
  • Other Google Tools Docs, spreadsheets, and Earth are all useful tools for responders.

Facebook Safety Check Tool

internet helps in a crisisThe Facebook Safety Check Tool was originally created for natural disasters. After the Paris Attacks, it has opened up to man made disasters as well. Basically, the Safety Check tool notifies friends and loved ones that you’re safe during a disaster.

This was original inspired by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and was then released on October 15th, 2014.

How It Works:

  • Affected Area Notification – Facebook sends you a notification if you are in an affected area and asks if you are safe.
  • “I’m Safe”Facebook Safe Button After receiving the notification, if you click or tap “I’m Safe” it adds a green “I’m Safe” box next to your name so others can see your status. Other friends may also confirm whether or not you are safe.
  • Safe Friends Notification – After the tool has been activated you will then receive notifications when your friends have marked themselves as safe.

internet helps in a crisisWays Facebook responded to Paris Attacks:

  • Enabled their safety check
  • Created a profile picture filter of blue, white, and red

Twitter Alerts

  • internet helps in a crisisWhat? This is an alert that contains vital real-time information during a fast moving emergency. Since this feature is intended for crisis, disaster, and emergency communications, these alerts consist of:
    • Warnings of imminent dangers
    • Preventive instructions
    • Evacuation directions
    • Urgent safety alerts
    • Information on access to essential resources
    • Information on critical transit and utility outages
    • Crowd and misinformation management.
  • Who? Only these groups are authorized to send an alert:
    • Law enforcement
    • Public safety agencies
    • Emergency management agencies
    • City and municipal governments
    • County and regional agencies
    • Select state, federal, and nation agencies and NGOs
  • When? Twitter Alerts are used when traditional ways of communication are not available. Such emergencies may include:
    • internet helps in a crisisNatural disasters
    • Severe weather
    • Biological incidents
    • Chemical or hazardous materials emergencies
    • Nuclear
    • Radiological incidents
    • Explosions
    • Food and agricultural incidents
    • Cyber incidents
    • Terrorism incidents
    • Crime
    • Major transportation incidents
  • Where? Twitter Alerts send as SMS notifications. Also, an orange bell displays next to alerts on your timeline.

Think your organization qualifies? Complete the Twitter Alert Enrollment Form

How do I get Twitter alerts?  Twitter Alert Setup

Ways Twitter responded to Paris Attacks:

  • Use of hastags
    • #PorteOuverte – Translates to Open Doors. This means you need a safe place to stay or you have a safe place (with open doors).
    • #PrayForParis – Used to show support for Paris
    • #RechercheParis – Translates to Search Paris. Friends and loved ones used this to find each other.

Airbnb Disaster Relief Program

internet helps in a crisisAs a result of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, many people in New York opened their doors to stranded individuals.

Airbnb, the unique online rental listing company, wanted to do the same during a disaster. They eventually created their very own disaster relief program. Airbnb even partnered with local government agencies and disaster relief organizations to make this program as effective as possible.

How it works Airbnb first sends out emails to room hosts in affected areas asking if they are in a position help. Hosts may then choose whether or not to participate. Finally, participating hosts open their doors (for free) to help people affected by the disaster.

  • Airbnb still offers 12/7 customer support, trust & safety tools, host guarantee and all other services.
  • Airbnb also uses their network to provide disaster information to the guests and hosts.

Ways Airbnb responded to Paris Attacks:

  • Activated their disaster relief program and many hosts in the affected areas opened their doors to help keep people safe.

Other companies that helped during the crisis

Uber – Turned off their city price surge.
Verzion, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, Google, and Skype – Made calling and texts from United States to France available for free


Facebook Business Tools

Facebook Tools for Your Business

phone facebookFacebook has made some updates that benefit small and medium sized businesses. These include improvements to the call-to-action button, new sections, and a soon to come new mobile layout. All of these improvements to Facebook can greatly improve your business if used correctly. They can cause more users to buy your products, download your games/apps, and general interest in your business which can bring more customers.

Call-To-Action Buttons

Facebook has made improvements to the call-to-action buttons. They  are much more prominent on your page and are displayed directly under the page cover photo. Some most popular options include ‘call now’, ‘send message’ and ‘contact us’. Here is a breakdown of more buttons:call to action

  • Book now – this can be helpful for any business that makes any sort of appointments such as hair stylists or hotels
  • Use app – this is a unique one for those that have a mobile app and may increase the downloads of your app
  • Play game – this is another unique one and is driven mostly for gaming businesses and can redirect the user to play a game demo or to the game online
  • Shop now – this is for any business that sells any products and redirects the user to your ecommerce website (Also see ‘shop’ section below to improve this feature)
  • Sign up – this can be used for any business that has an email subscription, or to sign up for the service such as Uber
  • Watch video – this can be used for any company that has a video about their business or maybe their products. It’s a good way to get users more interested in your business
  • Donate now – this is the most recent and is for non-profit organizations only

Send Messagemessage

Almost all the call-to-action buttons are pretty self-explanatory but the ‘send message’ button has to be used carefully. Once you have the ‘send message’ on your customers expect you to be responsive. Remember your goal is to have a high ‘Response Signal’ (more below). If you respond to 90 percent of messages within five minutes, you’ll earn a “Very Responsive to Messages” badge that tells page visitors that you can be reached effectively through messaging.

Once you know you are ready to be responsive to messages you get you need to know how to respond.

  • Don’t be a robot – In your response write to the customer as if you were talking to them and not a robot using an automatic response. This makes a more personal connection with your customer.
  • Short and informative not long and boring – There is not a limit of characters on Facebook messenger but you still should make it short and to the point. When using saved replies (more on this below) try to limit them to only frequently asked questions.
  • Use Private responses when necessary – There are new options to respond privately when including sensitive information such as billing questions, order statuses, and sensitive customer complaints.

New Sections

New sections on the business page include ‘shop’ and ‘services’.  The new ‘Shop’ section lets the business put their products on their page while the new ‘Service’ section lets the business list out services offered at the business.

Mobile Layout

A new mobile layout will make customers more easily find what they are looking for with your business by using tabs instead of endless scrolling should be coming out soon.

More Featuressend

More features include ‘Saved Replies’ and ‘Response Signals’.

The ‘Saved Replies’ lets a company save a response to a common question “like ‘What are your hours?’ or ‘Do you have a certain product in stock?’ so companies can pre-write those answers and respond more efficiently.” (CNBC)

The ‘Response Signals’ lets companies identify which pages are more responsive (live Mint).  This will show a response rate to the admin and show on the page if a high enough rate.






Why Businesses Should Be On Social Media

Social Media is Valuable to Businesses

So you already have a website. Do you need to bother with social media? The answer is yes, and the obvious reason is that it makes your business easier to find. But there’s more to it than that! Read on for why businesses should be on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Closer and More Personal Relationships With Customers

People like to feel important and they want to be heard. By using social media you have a major advantage in knowing what your customer wants, what they like, and how they speak.

And you are in an optimal position to speak back to your customers and engage in dialogue. You are not selling something as much as participating in an interactive community. This kind of interaction makes your company feel more human.

Instant Feedback – And Damage Control

Web FeedbackIf someone is unhappy with a product or service, these days they often bring their experience straight to the internet, in a public and vocal way.

This puts the spotlight on you to respond, and is your opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. If someone is complaining, it’s because they want to be heard. Your properly-handled response to complaints can create dedicated followers and loyal customers.

Just remember not to be emotional or hostile when you respond to criticism – all eyes are on you to see what you do!

Learn About Your Customers & Expand Your Audience

Customer Interaction

When you get feedback from your customers you are gaining valuable data: their opinions, their preferences, what drives them, and how they operate.

This information is valuable, in that it gives you a greater opportunity to expand your audience and find more customers.

Create Interest and Awareness – For Less Cost Than Traditional Media

Product Awareness

If a potential customer doesn’t know you offer a particular good or service, they won’t think to go to you. If they see what you have to offer even when that is not something they’re searching for at this exact time, you’ve still made them aware of it. Because of that, when they do need what you offer, they know you’re an option.

Creating awareness and interest through social media does take time. But it costs significantly less than traditional media. That’s not to say you should give up on traditional media, but at the very least social media is a worthy supplement.

Share Your Content & Bring People Back to Your Website

Bring People Back To Your Website

Do you have blog articles, photos, imagery of your services on your site? Social media is a great way to get that info out for people to see. It’s also a great way to bring people back to your website.

Your website should be the hub of your internet presence that users can come back to for all things about your company. Social media is a great supplement. It allows for personal interaction, draws people to your website, and helps create conversation about your business. Take a look for more obscure social media outlets as well. Platforms like Tumblr, Alignable, Instagram and even Ello may have something to offer.

If you need help setting up your web presence, contact us at Appletree MediaWorks – we can give you a hand.

email contact mailing online scam

Facebook Password Reset Scam!

Scam of the Day: Facebook Password Reset Scam
Facebook Password Reset Scam[space10]

The Email:

Be Aware of Email ScamsMany of the phishing scams you may see in your mailbox are designed to alarm you into clicking, but look genuine enough at a glance so you don’t look that close. In a rush to fix things and at a cursory glance, you just click the links and do as instructed. Today’s phishing example, the Facebook Password Reset Scam does just that. And it’s rather sneaky about it.

The email in question claims to be from Facebook and the subject simply says “Facebook password change.” Then comes the familiar blue Facebook header and the name.

The message gives cursory information with little detail and instructions you to click on a link and fill out a form in order to restore your password.

The Facebook Reset Scam:

This is a traditional email scam designed to get you to click on the link. The link does not go to Facebook. Instead, clicking either sends you to a form to submit private information, or the link may lead you to a site that will put malware on your computer.

How to Know:

This email is tricky and easy to mistake for the real thing but there are a few details to look for that can tip you off to understanding this is a scam.

1. Hover your mouse over the email link after “From”. In this case it claims to be from Facebook. Hovering over the blue link with your mouse turns up something different: At the bottom of your screen, you see that “” is the domain from the provided email, not Facebook!

2. Hover your mouse arrow over the other link in the email, “this form”, the one you are instructed to click on to reset your password. Instead of clicking, look again at the provided URL. In this case, we have an entirely different and unknown URL.

3. Often, social media, banks, and other sites that you have an account with will greet you by the name you have signed up through them with. It is uncommon that you will receive a serious piece of correspondence without any indication as to who the email is addressed to.

What To Do:

If you get an email like this and you’re not sure if it’s real or a scam, there are a couple ways to follow up.

1. Do NOT click on the link and follow instructions. Instead, go to your browser, type in the proper URL to the real site and see if you can log in. If you have no problem logging in, then your password has not been reset.

2. Ignore and delete the phishing email.

3. If you would like to follow up on it further, go to the Facebook website and see if they have any information on phishing. They may ask you to send a copy of the scammy email, and give you further instructions on what to do.

Scams of this nature, and phishing emails in general, tend to revolve around surprise and fear, operating under the assumption that the user will click and act without thinking.

We here at Appletree Mediaworks will continue to keep you informed on the nature of these scams so when one of them lands in your mailbox, you are better informed, can stop and think about what you are seeing, and be much better prepared.

[alertbox] Want to know more about email and internet scams? Visit our articles on Paypal Phishing, Domain Slamming, Ransomware, Energy Bill Service Scams, and Court Notice Scams. [/alertbox]


Social Media Content Rights

Social Media Content RightsWho Owns Rights To Your Social Media Content?

Occasionally we see those posts on Facebook where a user declares that they don’t have to abide by Facebook’s terms of service, having written a clause in a post. We all know this is a hoax. After all, you already agreed to their terms by making an account.

Even so, what is the nature of your media on someone else’s social media network? What are your social media content rights? It varies, and it’s murky.


Content Rights: FacebookFacebook’s terms are broad. Since their (and your) materials are hosted on various servers, their terms are written so that the data can be shared as desired or needed by them. According to Scoopshot, this does not end when you delete your account either. Your images may be hosted on one of their servers elsewhere.

Facebook says they have no intention of using these images for their own purposes, selling them, or otherwise distributing them. However, their legal terms are written so that they can.

Read Facebook’s Terms of Service

Don’t like it? Don’t host or post your media there.


Content Rights: TwitterMedia you post on Twitter stays yours, says Twitter, but their terms specify that they can distribute the materials posted through them. Again, their terms are open-ended.

Twitter’s Terms of Service state “By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).”


Content Rights: InstagramYour material belongs to you on Instagram, with the usual warnings about network sharing. They can display those images as they see fit. You are also responsible for not hosting copyright materials belonging to someone else.

The terms of service for Instagram state “you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, subject to the Service’s Privacy Policy, available here including but not limited to Sections 3 (“Sharing of Your Information”), 4 (“How We Store Your Information”), and 5 (“Your Choices About Your Information”).”


Content Rights: FlickrFlickr is owned by Yahoo, and there has been a lot of fuss over who owns those images. Currently, Flickr claims that you own the rights to your images in their social media network.

Other social media networks state that you own your media with the usual server/host limitations. They also assume that you are acknowledging that you own the materials you upload.

Ultimately, social media networks are going to cover all their bases for the foreseeable future, and make sure they are covered legally. This generally means they will broadly define their own rights. The result may be that they are allowed rights to your media. Your option, then, is to think carefully about where you are posting your media.

Ello and Social Media

What is Ello?


Much of the tech or social-media sided web has discussed Ello. These conversations frequently come in the same breath as something disparaging about Facebook, which gives indicator that it is presumably, a competitor. But just what is Ello, and is it going to live up to the hype! Read on for some answers, and some noncommittal predictions.

The New Kid

To begin with, the obvious: Ello is a new social media platform. If Facebook and Twitter had a child, and that new-kid artsy hipster child was just a little too cool to hang out with Tumblr with its weird (and occasionally questionable) hobbies, and found G+ – product of influential parents – to be absurdly outgoing and trying way too hard? That might be Ello.

But Why?

Originally created by a group of designers and developers to be a private social network, Ello strives to be different right off the bat. And in a world of multiple social media platforms, it needs to. Ello caters to users who are burned out on Facebook’s unilateral decisions and catering to advertising, and to users who are disenfranchised with the notion of being a data-gathering product of Facebook. Ello’s big boast is that it does not collect and sell your data to advertisers, and never will. Instead, Ello claims that it will have special features which users can purchase if they want, and that is how the company intends to fund the platform. Will that be enough to support the massive number of invite-only users trying out the platform? Comments sections the internet over are on fire over this question.

The Platform

Visually, Ello is stark, and fairly easy to figure out because it is designed to be simple. White background, with blacks and grays – it looks the part of extreme minimalism and a courier –style typeface. You can customize your page and add a little color by giving yourself a header image, not unlike Twitter, and adding an avatar.

Adding friends is a little like following people on Twitter, and you can type @users to address someone in particular. The Omnibox is your basic post-box, people have the ability to comment, and you can upload media. There is no ‘like’ button, but Ello states that in the near future it will have a ‘Love’ button.

You have two options for following people – Friends, or Noise. Noise is @ello, and populated by photographers, designers and graphic artists at this time. Much like Tumblr, Ello is set up to accept animated GIFs and may find itself rapidly integrating with the same sorts of users that populate the more visual social media platforms. Friends, on the other hand, is the wall where you view people you have friended and the things that they post.

Beyond this, the ‘Discover’ area is where you get a search bar which, at this point, seems about clunky and less useful than it could be. Ello’s feature list promises to improve this, along with the addition of an emoji index, user blocking, audio integration, multimedia commenting, and mobile apps.

But will it last?

This remains to be seen. A number of social media platforms have popped up only to burn out rapidly through the years, and Ello’s pride is also its disadvantage: with no income from advertisers, the question on whether it could handle long term widespread popularity has been debated extensively. It could be a momentary fad, getting attention from people that want desperately to escape Facebook and its games only to die shortly after, it could fall into a particular niche audience, or perhaps it will prove to be a true alternative.

Time will tell, and Ello has time. The platform is still in beta, and still invite-only. It’s definitely worth watching.

Facebook Data Use Policy Updates

Facebook Data Use Policy

What is the Facebook Data Use Policy?

Facebook is updating its policies again, a move which will inevitably lead to another round of people declaring that the company is selling their 852 photos of Jr. and posting custom legalese on their timelines in an attempt to contradict whatever new policies the company has written.

Is Facebook using your private gallery in advertising? Will establishing your own copyrights in a post make any difference? The answers are no, but what really goes on behind the scenes regarding Facebook advertising, privacy, and its Data Use Policy can be a bit murky and complex, if not a little insidious. The current round of proposed updates includes more attempts at clarifying what already exists with new language so there’s not much new there. But just what are they doing, and how can you control your own data?

It Starts With You

First and foremost, as a Facebook user you must take control of your privacy settings. Facebook’s biggest crime is a tendency to make their users ‘opt out’ of sharing information, rather than opting in. It is up to an individual user to learn about privacy settings and who will be able to access and use their information.  Facebook changes things around a lot, which makes keeping track of your permissions (and finding the settings) more complex than it has to be. Even so, Facebook will not share more than you allow – the trick is to knowing what you are allowing.

Public Information: Anyone can see your public information. It is what people use to search for others, and it’s what makes the social network social. Some information is always public, no matter how private you make your profile: your name, your profile picture and cover photos, your network, your gender, and your Username/ID.  If you upload a picture of your kid as your own profile image or as your cover photo, that image WILL be visible to all.

Other Public Info vs. Private Info: From here, you choose whether to make your wall and other information public, shared with your friends, or customized. The little globe icon right next to the post button indicates that something is public, the icon of two people means ‘Friends’, and the gear means that a custom permission has been set (you can customize who sees what; for example, if you want to keep your family oblivious to your more off-the-wall hobbies).  However, despite what you place as your settings, the publicity of your actions depends on what you do and where you post as well. If your friend makes a public post and you comment on it, then you should expect your response to be public.  If you are posting to a public group, then other people may see it.

Your Friends

Your friends will see what you post to your wall, what you like, and what you share. Your friends may also affect the advertising you see, they can add you to groups, and they can affect your Facebook life in other ways – such as tagging awful pictures of you. Keep track of who you friend and how you plan to interact with that person. Sometimes the interaction can get out of hand in unexpected ways.

Likes Vs. Shares – And how Social Advertising Throws This Off

When you Share something on Facebook, you expect other people to see it and pass it along – this is a given. Facebook is social after all, and you want to share things you enjoy. Keep in mind, however, that when you Like something on Facebook, you are endorsing it – which may affect the way Facebook advertises to you.  Your profile and image may also appear to your friends on that or other affiliated websites. Additionally, your endorsement may appear in the advertisements that your friends see in Facebook.

Did you click ‘like’ two years ago on a friend’s photography fan page? That photography page might show up in another friend’s news feed, endorsed by you – which could get awkward depending on the content of their photography, for example.

Social Advertising has the internet in a tizzy these days. While Snopes has put the rumor that Facebook is using your private images in public advertisements to rest, what you decide to share might very well be everybody’s business, depending on your privacy settings. Things you share and your likes will be shared with your friends. Likewise, the information that you allow apps to access will be sent to those 3rd party companies.

Data Mining

Even if Facebook is not stealing your images to use in public advertising (and your content DOES belong to you) Facebook’s data gathering is complicated, and may reach well beyond the scope that many people realize.

Everything you do on the Facebook platform is tracked – what you click on, what you like, the information you post about yourself, where you are, and your general behaviors.  This information is intended to personalize the targeted advertising to you – it’s all about the ads. Say your public information states that you are a 28 year old male in Flint, that you like a given restaurant and you like ice hockey. Even with your personal identifiers are removed, that information is still highly detailed. If someone is looking to advertise a Flint Generals event at a given restaurant, you might fit into the demographic, sparking an oddly specific advertisement to appear on your news feed.

Even if you yourself rarely click a Like button, your friends can be used to fill in the gaps. (This is why we mentioned being careful about the people you are Friending.)

Beyond the Web

Data mining is not limited to Internet activity alone. Remember those little customer loyalty cards you scan at the store for discounts? The information gathered from these cards can be fed into one of several big data mining companies who can then associate it with your Facebook account (using a hashed email or phone number). If you purchase a car at a local dealership, you may be shown an advertisement for that car dealership on Facebook even if you never Liked anything related to it.

What to Do

Does this make you uncomfortable? If not, continue on your merry way. If so, however, there are steps that can be taken to minimize your use to advertisers in this way.

Update Privacy Settings: On Facebook you should regularly update your privacy settings and check out the new features. The little lock icon in the right hand corner of Facebook’s blue nav bar along the top will take you to the privacy page which allows you to manage everything from  your timeline and tagging to deleting old apps and editing your Facebook Ads permissions.  This is where you control social advertising.

Audit Your Likes: If you are worried about what might show up in advertising you can go through and delete old Likes, hide or delete wall posts, and otherwise clean up your account. Even if you’ve set your security to private, this can minimize future awkward advertising and associations, and avoid giving free advertising  to companies that you don’t actually want to endorse.

Addon Help: Facebook utilizes cookies and browser storage. There are a variety of browser addons and extensions that will reduce your cookie tracks throughout the web, and there are also addons that will allow you to adjust what you see and use on Facebook.

Opting Out: The real-world data mining can be controlled to a degree as well. Using a different phone number (Google Voice offers secondary phone numbers) or an alternate email than the one used with Facebook can reduce the ability for companies to associate the two. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has written a guide on how to opt out of data mining for some of the big data companies.

Calling it Quits

If all this data mining combined with concerns over the NSA’s information gathering make you want to reach for your tinfoil hat, deleting your Facebook account is an option as well. This takes about a month to do and you may still have data in their servers for up to 90 days, but it is always an option to consider. While things you have posted on other peoples’ walls or comments may not entirely disappear, it will definitely reduce your digital footprint.