TSA admits they have access to web browsing history


TSA says they won’t make your take off your shoes or remove laptops from bags if private screeners can look at your web browsing history and other personal data. This of course means that TSA has easy access to your web browsing history, thanks to the open door policy that social media websites have given the government. Worse, TSA plans to outsource the snooping to private contractors. Gosh, I feel so much safer.

Enrollment is expected to cost $85 — and the loss of privacy. TSA is weighing a contract that would hire private screeners to parse an applicant’s consumer data, such Web browsing histories, for signs of danger before admission into express inspection programs.

Social media poisons own well due to its complicity with NSA

Credit: WaPo
Credit: WaPo

Maybe rolling over to NSA without a fight wasn’t such a good idea after all for all those greedy social media kidz (and Bill Gates, apparently) who wanted to be billionaires.

NSA leaks about spying are scaring some Americans away from the Internet

News of the U.S. government’s secret surveillance programs that targeted phone records but also information transmitted on the Internet has done more than spark a debate about privacy. Some are reviewing and changing their online habits as they reconsider some basic questions about today’s interconnected world. Among them: How much should I share and how should I share it?

Further, many overseas firms and users are seriously questioning whether they should use US-based cloud services.

A call to boycott U.S. tech platforms over the NSA’s PRISM surveillance

The past few weeks have been game-changing for the U.S./Europe relationship, with the EU Commission already hinting at moving cloud computing centers to Europe, many parliamentarians proposing to review international trade agreements and data exchange practices, and German chancellor Merkel heading towards a pre-election show-down on these very issues. It is not actually the fact that surveillance is real that scares Europeans, it is that now, everyone apparently is a legitimate target — yes we scan, because we can!

SEO is dead. Long live social media


Social Media is Dynamite details how social media is becoming the predominant way of communicating on the net, making parts of the web somewhat obsolete.

SEO and old style websites are likely be less and less relevant. Social sharing will drive site visits and the social sites will become the place more time is spent on. Social is already more popular on the web than pornography.

TV, radio and newspapers will also be less relevant, as people spend more and more time on these social sites.

We had breakfast in a hotel this morning. No one was reading newspapers. Instead, people were getting news from their smart phones. This is a sea change from ten years ago when everyone read newspapers during breakfast.

This shift does have a down side as sites may overtly tailor their content to fit what advertisers want so their tailored ads appear more like content. The division between advertising and content looks to be very blurry indeed.

Advertisers will take up real estate on your social feeds. And they will get cleverer. Ads will become engagement snares.

Out bound selling will transition into content creation for inbound prospect attraction sites.

UC Berkeley researchers map California Proposition 30 social media

UC Berkeley researchers are studying how people use social media in politics by mapping California Proposition 30 social media references onto graphs. They  invite users to join in and see how their graphs grow.

Users sign up on their new website, CA Prop 30 Awareness, by entering their email address. This creates a new page similar to the home page coded with a number unique to them. Users then use social media like Facebook and Twitter to discuss Proposition 30, using the unique page as the link. The website tracks click-through to the unique page and awards points based on how many people sign on and where their links travel to.

The above sample graph shows social media spreading from the user in the middle to his circles and then to the circle’s circles.

If Proposition 30 doesn’t pass there will be immediate, mandated budget cuts of about $5 billion, most of which will impact education. So, Prop 30 is of more than theoretical interest to those in California universities.

I may vote against Prop 30 simply because it mandates that money be spent in a specific way. Propositions like these are part of the problem not the solution because they force money be spent in a specific way but generally do provide a realistic funding source. Prop 30 will raise sales tax 0.25% and increase income tax on those making more than $250,000. The State of California is known to make wildly over optimistic estimates of projected income. There’s no reason to believe Prop 30’s estimates are reality-based.

The CA Prop 30 Awareness URL I’m linking to is my coded page. I’d appreciate click-throughs and sign ups. Thanks!

Social media. Bodybuilding.com and MaxMuscle get it. Active.com doesn’t

Bodybuilding.com and Max Muscle use social media to create interactive sites that build community while Active.com limps along, unable to do even the obvious.

I’m back into training for half marathons now. Active.com lists races across the country, allowing you to sign up on their site. But its interface is old, tired, and incapable of doing things that it needs to. By contrast, Bodybuilding.com, which sells supplements and focuses on training, provides a wealth of ways to connect, get information, and plan training. So does MaxMuscle.

Active.com doesn’t even allow you to save events. It says you can but the user forums have unanswered questions on this going back for months. So, not only can you not bookmark races that interest you, their support staff apparently can’t be bothered to answer the questions and the programmers can’t add what seems to be a simple enough feature. Also, if you pay $59.95 a year, you get added benefits, like discounts on races. But they don’t tell you in advance what the discount will be on a race. Instead it says you can save up to $10 per registration but doesn’t specify precisely how much. How lame is that? Its use of social media is minimal. You can start a blog and post updates, but that’s about it.

By contrast, Bodybuilding.com is filled with social media features. If you see a supplement you like, you can save it to your dashboard. The page for the supplement shows other members who are taking it and lists its overall rating from those who have reviewed it. For example, the Glycoject page, a pre workout supplement I’m using, has a wealth of information. There are forums for specific interests, like distance running, power lifting, and losing weight.

I bought the Glycoject on a recommendation at a local Max Muscle store. They are a highly knowledgeable and reliable source about supplements and training (Indeed, Bodybuilding.com gives Glycoject a 9.9 out of 10.) The Max Muscle website also uses social media to build community, with journals, events calendar, considerable use of Twitter, posting before and after photos, plus articles.

Active.com feels dead. It, like eBay, has an ancient interface and is mostly running on reputation (and maybe fumes.) Sooner or later, both will be replaced by sites that put the user first and create community, something Max Muscle and Bodybuilding.com are already doing well.