Category Archives: social-networking

Turning off Auto-Play of Videos on Twitter and Facebook from your Smartphone

It’s the most annoying thing … you scroll through your feed or timeline, and one of the feeds has a video.  It plays as soon as you scroll to it.  While it is a neat feature, not everyone wants it on by default.  First, it’s annoying, if you are scrolling through it, wasting time, in a doctor’s office.  If you have your phone on half volume, then everyone will hear the video.  Second, it chews up your bandwidth.

So when you read articles from Facebook, it tells you about the obvious disadvantage of it using up bandwidth on your phone.  So why the hell do you have it enabled by default?  You would expect that it would be off by default, and you would opt in, if you happen to be in high bandwidth wi-fi regions.  Not only that, they make it extremely difficult to find the options to disable it.  I guess I should be fortunate that they give you an option to turn it off … but there is no reason why it should be enabled by default, on your mobile phone!

Social Media – Use at Your Own Risk

The concept of social media was so innocent when it was introduced to us.  They promoted, hey, let’s produce a platform where you can catch up with all your friends.  Sounds like a great idea, right?  That meant putting lots of personal information on there, like date of birth, phone number, home address …. Whoa, put the brakes on … phone number and home address?

As you all know, Cambridge Analytica was able to extract possibly all of that information, when some survey was posted on Facebook.  I mean this not only allowed people to share information, but it also extracted information from their friends, who didn’t even participate in the survey in the first place.

So I immediately turned off the ability for 3rd party applications to communicate through my Facebook profile (I may actually do the same thing for Twitter and Google Plus as well).  Will that help?  Who knows.  One thing I did notice is that when I tried to share my Instagram posts directly from my phone, it didn’t allow it.  I guess that confirms that it does do the job … but I think it may be a matter of a little too little, a little too late.

I then started to look at my other privacy settings, and more specifically the ads settings.  What I didn’t realize was each application that you click “like” will add to the source of where ads will get posted to you.  Holy shit!!!!  I had probably 20 sites, that was not high on my interest list, that could possibly be posting an ad.  Sheesh … I immediately turned that off.

Next I looked at some of what my friends’ settings are, and wow .. under contact info, I saw that many of them included their home street address and phone number.  If someone just viewed your profile, and saw your basic contact info, they can start spamming you like crazy, calling you, even visiting you at your home.  The default setting is for everyone to see your profile information.  That is bad …

So this is why I cringe when looking back at Social Media.  I’m too deeply into it now, but the first thing I would do is restrict who can access my profile.  Second, remove any personal information that can be spread to cause harm, like home address, phone number, and will probably be removing a few more in the future.

Facebook is not alone in this … Twitter is not quite as bad, but I still have some issues with them.  I chose to require 2 factor authentication for all my Social Media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus).  However, with twitter, the 2nd factor is via SMS text messaging, which means I have to put my cell phone in there.  The cell phone is in my twitter profile.  However, if someone got access to my profile, they can retrieve that info, and start spamming me.  What I really wish, that Twitter will do, is provide 2nd factor via push authentication (like what Google, and WordPress does).  I really don’t like the fact that the 2nd factor code is done via SMS, which can be hacked easily.  I really think push authentication for 2FA is the way to go.  I only wish more apps could adopt this.

Anyhow, enough of my rant.  The point of this blog is to be very leery of the information you share on Facebook, Twitter, or any other Social Media platform.  Now back to doing more house chores.

Securing Yourself Online

With all the threats of being hacked, phished, spammed, etc … I thought I would give a very basic primer for some of my friends on getting yourself secured.  This is common sense to some people, but not all are as experienced … so here is my first attempt at this.

Twitter:

This can be as open as you want it to be, but that comes at a cost.  For that reason, the easiest thing to do is make sure anyone that follows you is after your approval .. i.e.  lock your profile.  When someone wants to follow you, you will be notified, and you can either allow or block them.  Many spammers and phishers on twitter will get to users this way.

Most of the time, you will know who wants to follow you.  Be wary of users who have 0 are a small number of tweets.  Someone who has a large number of follows, but has done a small number of tweets is a big warning sign.  If you are big into cycling, like I am, most of my followers will by cycling related.  But if it looks like someone from a completely different interest type, I usually block them.

Facebook:

I normally avoid any facebook games.  When it says it needs to look into your profile, that’s a big big no-no with me.  Perhaps I’m paranoid, but that helps not getting pawned.  I usually configure anything to inform me first, before they invoke anything … i.e.  eye your permissions

Emails:

Ok, this is the most difficult.  Of course, we all have some type of anti-spam from email hosts, but that won’t catch everything.  Again, if the subject seems like something unfamiliar, it is most likely something to be forewarned about.  Be very careful of this.  Sometimes, I deliberately force my email settings to use txt only, but some people don’t like txt, and require html.  Okay, fine … but when I see a link, I typically copy and paste that link into a web browser.  This avoids what’s called click-jacking.  Sometimes, when you click something, it may go to a URL that you are not expecting … and then, it takes you to a phishing site, where it taps into your personal account information, which is a bad thing.

If, you happen to get a dialog box that seems out of the ordinary, make sure you don’t click inside the box.  Try clicking the “X” on the border of the window.  This way, you exit from the windows function, instead of possibly executing the hackers code, and possibly hacking into you.

One last thing … it may be a good idea to rotate your passwords every so often.  Make them non-standard spelling, and not a typical pattern that can be guessed.  One suggestion, which seems to be a good idea, but I haven’t employed yet … is to come up with a phrase you remember the most … and take the first letter of each word, and use them in your password.  I haven’t used this password, but consider the phrase “Who are these people and why do they keep following me?”.  You could translate this into a password “wrtp&ydtkfm?”  Yes, it may take a while to get used to this, but that pattern will definitely be harder to hack than “cyclist”.

Twitter 101

Anyone else notices that “Social Networking” is THE buzz word these days … it used to be that IM was the way to go (i.e. Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, Jabber, Communicator, etc …). But lately, I’ve noticed there is an even greater abundance of tools, like this blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Forums! No wonder I’m getting fat lately, and probably no social life … if you discount the virtual social life here on the Internet.

I started looking at Twitter, and yes, you can send your tweets through the website http://twitter.com …. but that’s just the start.

Let me list the ways you can tweet:

Web … http://twitter.com
Tweetdeck – application that lets you group by replies, searches, direct messages. This even gives you notification when a new tweet arrives
Tweettree – will sort tweets by conversations, which is pretty cool.
Twitterberry – twitter client on blackberry
Twitterfeed – takes blog entries and feeds them into twitter
Twitterfon – twitter client on iphone and ipod touch
Twitterfox – firefox extension with twitter notifications
Tweetie – another client on iphone … this one claims to be “full fledged” client
Twitterrific – client specifically designed for the Mac
Outtwit – twitter on Outlook client
Mobile web – using phone web browser client

I never realized there was so many ways to access twitter. And then, there is tweetlist and tweetmeme, which lists the top daily tweet links … tweetlater, allows you to schedule when you want to tweet, instead of right away … twitterfall gives you tweets of the most popular topics … dang!!!! I think I need a class on using Twitter.

I use TweetDeck primarily … I like the notification, and that you can group your contacts, and the tweets can be organized by groups … but one big drawback with TweetDeck is the lack of conversations. Everyone keeps telling me that you can use the search function in TweetDeck, but I don’t want to see every single friggin’ thread for a particular user … I just want to see the conversation thread. Now, Tweettree is a nice way of doing this, but I want the flexibility that TweetDeck gives me. Tweettree and TweetDeck should merge its features together.

Confused yet?