What Facebook Tells Everyone Else

To cut to the chase, just view the American Civil Liberties Union facebook quiz. I will explain it in full below.

You might be wondering why this isn’t on the whutsIT Tech Blog (editor’s note: whutsIT was a distinct techblog I was maintaining around this time, it no longer exists), but I don’t consider this a huge PSA. I think most people who will read this know what’s going on when it comes to Facebook, I just think they don’t care. I may be wrong.

Let me explain. Every time you “accept” a quiz, or “send” a drink, or “farm” a ville or whatever you’re doing on Facebook, your information is shared with people you don’t know.

Wait, what? No, really. You’re not just answering stupid questions, and you’re not just clicking on funny pictures, and you’re not just showing your pictures to me. When you “Facebook Connect” with an application, you’re eseentially giving whoever made the application all of the information that you put on Facebook. When I talk about “whoever made the application” I don’t mean your friend that wrote a quiz to send you, it’s whoever made the ‘quiz’ software that your friend used to build the quiz.

If all of this seems too abstract or complex, the ACLU developed a Facebook Quiz which shows you exactly what these companies know about you when you use their “apps.”

Is it something to be concerned about? Potentially. Many of these companies probably don’t care, many more probably don’t have any way of truly harvesting valuable information about you. But very quickly they can get your email address, your friends email addresses, and all kinds of other information that can be used to identify you, spam your inbox, call your phone, send you junk mail, and who knows what else. All without you ever even typing a word.

whutsIT will soon write about Facebook Phishing – in otherwords, what people can do with the information you actually DO type into those quizzes about your friends, family, what kind of kisser you are, etc… you might be surprised at what I can do with that information.

Why do teens text?

I recently heard this story about kids who text so much their social skills may be starting to suffer. The example given in this story is a teacher who states that students are more likely to ask questions virtually, via email or perhaps some sort of course management system, rather than come up and ask her in person.

I was as socially awkward as they came, in high school. And some teachers petrified me more than others. I would have loved the ability to avoid them! I do not think that text messaging is the reason students don’t particularly enjoy talking to their teachers.

Still, the majority of that article, as well as many others, focus on how much texting teens are doing. Researchers (empowered with tax dollars, surely), teachers, and parents alike stare at kids confused. Several of my friends, who were once convinced that “if they wanted to talk to me, they’d call me” now send well over a thousand texts every month. So, what happened?

I’m one of the haters. I text as little as possible, but it’s still easily 20-30 texts sent every day, with some days going far higher. I remember the first time I got a text message, not knowing my phone was capable of it, circa 2003. I remember building my mobile plan from ten cents per text, to 100 texts a month, to 300 texts a month, to 500, then finally unlimited. I remember proposing to my friends, before unlimited texting plans were available, a device that would forgo voice communication and be used solely for unlimited texting at $40 a month (I still think it’s a good idea). But why have the youngsters taken to texting? I don’t know why it’s so hard for so many to see.

The answer is simple. Teens and younger generations text because it allows us to multi-task. I can carry on multiple different conversations at one time. We are a multi-tasking society, and studies have shown younger generations are far better at it than our elders. What was thought to be a distraction has proven not to as disastrous as once thought, as younger employees browse the internet at work and still get more done than tenured employees who curmudgeonly hate technology. If I call someone, that takes away from my ability to talk to the plethora of other people I may be talking to at that exact same time. Texting also allows for a response later. This isn’t much different than leaving a voice mail or even an email – but the message is wherever you are and the response can be immediately returned.

It seems painfully obvious to me, but I’m sure we’ll continue to see increased usage of texting. We will also continue to see researchers scratch their heads as to why kids avoid social interaction? But I do not think it’s causing our kids to become e-hermits, I think it is almost entirely motivated by the desire and ability of teens to multi-task and interact with multiple people at one time.

What – is – this?

Now that you’re here, you have to read that title again – with the dramatic pause of Jack Skellington when he first discovered Christmas Town.

If you want to know what you’re looking at, it’s a domain name I owned roughly ten years ago and I recently got my hands back on. If you want a brief history of me on the web, feel free to read up on the about page. I’ll still be posting normal content on my other appropriate websites, WinBreak and whutsIT, but this site will be for personal musings that I feel like putting somewhere. If you want to read it, be my guest. If not, why are you still reading? Quit pretending… you know I fascinate you. 😉

Backorder Bonus: Win Gears of War 2 Flashback Map Pack!

When Gears of War 2 launched, the pre-order hungry gamers got a few extra multiplayer maps for free. The maps were then released on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 400 MSPoints. The map pack included five maps for an astonishingly reasonable price. Some people hated the idea that they were just “remake” maps, but Epic recognized that and made the maps essentially $1 each. The remade levels from Gears of War 1 multiplayer in this map pack are: Gridlock, Subway, Canals, Mansion, and Tyro Station.

Maybe you didn’t pre-order your game, maybe you bought the game used, and maybe you just have no intention of paying for old maps! Either way, if you still don’t have this map pack and you’re interested, here’s your chance!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this thread between now and 12:00 NOON EDT on Friday, April 9th. A comment will be chosen at random and then sent a code. If you leave your gamertag, I can easily send you the code over Xbox Live. If you do not leave a gamertag, I will only be able to contact you if you are a registered user of WinBreak.com.