Recently in Privacy Category

Facebook to target ads based on users' trail

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David Gelles:

Facebook has laid the ground for a new system that would track its users' behaviour as they visit other sites around the internet, using the information to deliver highly targeted advertisements to them on the social networking site.

So-called "behavioural targeting" is widely used by companies such as Google but, on, the move is likely to provoke a new round of criticism over incursions into users' privacy.

In order to make the system work, Facebook is planning to unveil this week a content-sharing button that other websites can embed on their pages, according to marketers briefed on the plans. Similar to buttons from Twitter and Digg that let users share content with their social networks, the Facebook button will allow users to signal the content they like on sites around the internet.

However, data from these interactions would be used to target them with related adverts once they return to

The Social Media Bubble

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Umair Haque:

I'd like to advance a hypothesis: Despite all the excitement surrounding social media, the Internet isn't connecting us as much as we think it is. It's largely home to weak, artificial connections, what I call thin relationships.

During the subprime bubble, banks and brokers sold one another bad debt -- debt that couldn't be made good on. Today, "social" media is trading in low-quality connections -- linkages that are unlikely to yield meaningful, lasting relationships.

Call it relationship inflation. Nominally, you have a lot more relationships -- but in reality, few, if any, are actually valuable. Just as currency inflation debases money, so social inflation debases relationships. The very word "relationship" is being cheapened. It used to mean someone you could count on. Today, it means someone you can swap bits with.

Trulia's Web Ranking Strategies Come Under Fire

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There is much controversy these days in the real estate blogging world about the overly aggressive link strategies employed by Trulia.

Galen Ward, co-founder of, a Seattle real estate brokerage, first brought to light the ongoing conversation about Trulia's questionable optimization techniques in an article at BloodHound Blog. The article raised many eyebrows and started a flurry of criticism and the birth of a massive campaign titled Trulia Awareness to educate unsuspecting non-internet savvy agents and broker/owners that Trulia may be a modern day version of the Trojan Horse.

Most internet savvy companies would not accept, even as trade, supplying content for another company's website for traffic and exposure when the receiving company does not give credit back to the original source of content by hoarding page rank.

They might be better served by hiring SEOs and investing in their own websites and arming them with the very tools necessary to give the consumer what they want, and compete directly with the competition for their share of internet traffic.

The crux of the controversy is that Trulia receives its content in the form of real estate property listings from trusted partners (i.e., real estate agents and real estate companies) and displays these listings on their real estate site. Through a clever process, Trulia employs technical maneuvers such as "nofollows," temporary redirects, etc., which essentially makes the original source of the information invisible to Google, thus allowing Trulia to outrank the original source in the search engines.

One person's promotional strategy is likely another's link spam.


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Gregg Keizer:

Last week, a pair of security researchers spread the news that a new class of vulnerabilities, called "clickjacking," puts users of every major browser at risk from possible attack.

Robert Hansen, founder and chief executive of SecTheory LLC, and Jeremiah Grossman, chief technology officer at WhiteHat Security Inc., spilled some beans last week after they gave a semi-closed presentation at OWASP AppSec 2008 in New York.

Maybe because of the catchy name, or perhaps because it's actually serious stuff, clickjacking got some press. But that still leaves open the question: Just how spooky is it? Are we talking run-for-the-hills scary, or is this just another theoretical attack vector? And what should you do to protect yourself?

We have questions, as usual, and fewer straight answers than we'd like.

What is clickjacking? Good question. Getting to an answer, though, is a little tough, since Hansen and Grossman are keeping virtually all details confidential, at least for now. Here's how Grossman put it to Computerworld last Friday:

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