Category Archives: Facebook

Facebook May Start Vanity URLs This Week

Just like vanity plates for your car, Facebook will soon be offering vanity URLs for profile pages this week according to a reliable source to Tech Crunch.
There will be words that are in a blacklist according to Tech Crunch. Those words will include trademark infringements and many generic terms.

At this time Facebook profiles have been using user id numbers instead of words. Since March some Facebook pages have had the vanity URLs. Those who have the vanity tags are in a business relationship with Facebook.

The vanity URL is a useful tool on many other sites including MySpace and Twitter.

Facebook employees will get first dibs on the vanity URLs. Mark has already been taken by Mark Zuckerberg.

Courts using Facebook profiles as evidence more often

Posting your life on Facebook may not be the wisest move for criminals and those in civil lawsuits. Courts are using the information from the social networking site more often as part of their evidence.
One such case is that of Dennis Terry, a Newfoundland man who was going for a settlement after suffering whiplash from two car accidents in 2001 and 2003. Terry was hoping to get money for the harm his social life suffered after the accidents. Terry also claimed that he was unable to move well enough to play pool, a favorite past time.

Enter to the court Terry’s Facebook profile that showed he wasn’t really sitting at home by his lonesome.

CTV reports:

“He went to and hosted parties, attended weekend outings at summer cabins, drank alcohol frequently, smoked marijuana daily and appeared to have a number of friends with whom he communicated and socialized on a regular basis,” Adams wrote in his April 17 ruling.

“I find it incredible that Mr. Terry’s social life miraculously improved in the few months he was communicating on Facebook and that for the remainder of the time from 2001 to 2007 he essentially had no or little social life. Without this evidence, I would have been left with a very different impression of Mr. Terry’s social life.”

Terry had been hoping for a $1.5 million payout, he was instead given $40,000 for his pain and suffering.

was used in a trial in Australia recently when Mark McCormack used the social network to track down a couple that owed him money. When the couple moved and were unable to be contacted through regular means McCormack turned to Facebook and it provided. The documentation from Facebook was excepted by the courts because it included their names, dates of birth and listed each other as “friends”.

Slashdot reports:

“Lawyers for Janice Roman, the defendant in the lawsuit, believe information posted on John Leduc’s private Facebook site — normally accessible only to his approved ‘friends’ — may be relevant to his claim an accident in Lindsay in 2004 lessened his enjoyment of life. As a result of the ruling by Justice David Brown of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, Leduc must now submit to cross-examination by Roman’s lawyers about what his Facebook page contains. Brown’s Feb. 20 ruling also makes clear that lawyers must now explain to their clients ‘in appropriate cases’ that postings on Facebook or other networking sites — such as MySpace, LinkedIn and even blogs — may be relevant to allegations in a lawsuit, said Tariq Remtulla, a Toronto lawyer who has been following the issue.”

One woman believes that Facebook and other social networking sites could prove to be more useful in court cases than DNA. Gill Smith whose son was murdered spoke out on the matter when it was revealed that up to 850,000 profiles of innocent people were part of the 4.5 million on an official database in the UK.

This Is Bristol

Referring to social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo, she said: “If people are law abiding, it shouldn’t worry them at all. I would be more concerned about what was on the Internet than having my DNA profile held on file because there is so much information out there.”

“What we campaigned for was taking DNA profiles with the permission of the individuals concerned,” said Mrs Smith. “We believe that if a policeman knocked on your door and asked for DNA, most people would say ‘yes, keep it’.

“It wouldn’t worry me if my DNA was taken. If all the records were taken at birth, no one could complain they were being singled out.

“In Europe they are digging up the soldiers from the First World War and using DNA so relatives can find out where their loved ones are – it’s not just for criminals. DNA profiling has other uses as well.”

Study Shows Facebook Users Have Lower GPAs

Using Facebook may not be the best thing for students according to a survey of college students. It seems that those on Facebook tend to have lower grades than those not on the social network.
The survey asked 219 Ohio State students only about Facebook leaving out other social networking sites. The study was comprised of 102 undergraduates and 117 graduates during the summer and fall quarters of 2008. There were 148 Facebook accounts among those in the study.

While the study can not link the use of the social network to dumbing down students it does question how students on the site use their non-classroom time.

Live Science reports:

“I’m just saying that there’s some kind of relationship there, and there’s many third variables that need to be studied,” said Aryn Karpinski, an education researcher at Ohio State University.

Aryn Karpinski, a doctoral student at Ohio State does not use Facebook herself.

The study found that those on Facebook had GPAs in the 3.0 to 3.5 range on average compared to 3.5 to 4.0 averages of non-users. Facebook users tended to study less than the other students by six to ten hours. And who uses Facebook the most in university? More science, technology, engineering, math and business majors are updating their profiles than those in the social sciences and the humanities.

The study showed that those who worked at jobs tended to be on Facebook less than those involved in other extracurricular activities.

Computer World reports:

“There may be other factors involved, such as personality traits, that link Facebook use and lower grades,” she added. “It may be that if it wasn’t for Facebook, some students would still find other ways to avoid studying and would still get lower grades. But perhaps the lower GPAs could actually be because students are spending too much time socializing online.”

More undergrads (85 percent) are on the social network than grad students (52 percent).

Karpinski was bemused that students rose to defend their online activities. She took pains to make sure that the survey did not have a positive nor a negative bias. While Karpinski says her research was not biased she was not surprised at the results. She is quoted by

“Maybe [Facebook users] are just prone to distraction. Maybe they are just procrastinators,” Karpinski told in a phone interview on Monday.

The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association on April 16.

The Canadian Press reports:

Katherine Giroux-Bougard, national chair of the Canadian Federation of Students, said the site has been a great tool in promoting activities on campus, and helps keep students engaged with issues they wouldn’t necessarily hear about elsewhere.

Facebook Is Now 200 Million Strong

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday that Facebook is now up to 200 million active users. Not bad for a social network that was started just five years ago by a young man.

In 2004 Zuckerberg built Facebook hoping to create a faster way for people to share information about what was happening around them. Share they have. Today a common question people ask is “Are you on Facebook?”

Facebook has been used by both U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicholas Sarkozy as a means to organize their supporters. Facebook is now often a tool for community and global groups to stay in connect and spread their word.

As Facebook has grown in members the tech team has worked to make the interface fast and easy to navigate.

Facebook is creating a page to celebrate their growth for people to share with others how Facebook has been able to help them give back to their communities.

Facebook also has a gift shop that 16 charitable and advocacy organizations have been able to create products to help with donations. When you buy something at the gift shop the full amount minus 50 credits to cover transactional fees will go to that organization to support its efforts.

There are still many more people and groups in the world whose voices we want to connect with everyone who wants to hear them. So even as we celebrate the 200 millionth person and all of you using Facebook today, we are working to bring the power of sharing to everyone in the world.-Mark Zuckerberg

Microsoft working with Facebook to kill Koobface virus

Jeff Williams, a principle group program manager for the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC), has been working with the Facebook Security team to protect users of the social network against the Koobface virus.
The Koobface virus first appeared in May 2008. It spreads by delivering fraudulent messages from those who have had their computers infected. The Facebook Security team was able to quickly detect the virus and reset people’s accounts. Still some people’s computers remained infected and were able to spread Facebook messages that seemed harmless with subject headers like “Check out this video” or “LOL.”

Those who clicked on the linked without the latest up-to-date anti-virus software were finding that their Facebook account information and passwords were being stolen. That information was then used to continue the spread of the Koobface virus.

The Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC) was able to come into Facebook and add detection to Koobface to their Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT). Adding this protection the two teams are protecting hundreds of millions of people.

Since the latest version of MSRT was installed Facebook has been able to remove Koobface nearly 200,000 times from over 133,677 computers in more than 140 different locales around the world.

The MMPC has not finished their work at Facebook. Koobface is a tricky virus, constantly changing to avoid the best anti-virus software. It has over 20,000 variations to date.

Those with Windows operating systems and using the Automatic Updates feature should already have received the MSRT each month as part of standard security updates.

Those who fear that Koobface has attacked their computer can use the Microsoft’s free online virus scanner.

Facebook Group Wants to Help Poverty Issues But Is It Legal?

When an enterprising young woman teams up with a Salvation Army Church the results could be wonderful. That was the goal of Jane with a Facebook group, now defunct, in support of the fight against poverty’.
A Facebook group said it wanted to take a stab against poverty. This Web design group wanted to use Salvation Army Agincourt Community Church as the group that the group will benefit. But the problem though is that the church was in the dark.

Jane has since closed the group and partnered with another church.

Young Jane runs an international web design company dedicated to promoting the growth of businesses.

The Agincourt Community Church is a member of the Ontario Central Division of the Salvation Army.

The Facebook group wanted to support of the fight against poverty’ has two goals. The first is the welfare of adults and children living in poverty around the world. The second is to help a young woman with her business.

The premise of the group wanted to place an ad at the company’s website in any province and in any category of your choice. A contribution of $10 will be taken from each ad purchased and all ad contributions will be donated at the end of every month to the Salvation Army.

Individuals not needing an ad can still contribute to the mission by selecting add listing category and writing the description of ad as contribution.

Jane talks to potential clients to see what their website needs and goals are. she then gets with her web designer to put out a web site that reflects those goals. As for the Facebook group Jane’s main goal was to raise awareness of the struggles families are facing in these tough economic times. When deciding on a charity to work with she first considered World Vision but in the end choose a local Salvation Army Church. As Jane says: ” I want to reach people in my own community and knew that this group could work well with people’s own community.”

As I talked to Jane I could tell she was very committed to the cause but wondered if everything was completely on the level. She hadn’t been in contact with the church herself and that left me curious.

Those are worthy goals but when I spoke to Captain Darlene Anderson of the Agincourt Community Church she was in the dark about this Facebook group. Anderson said that she will be investigating the group further. Jane said she still had to contact Agincourt, but when she did, she instead decided to partner with Cedarbrae Community Church in Toronto.

Jane said the Church is embracing the idea of partnering with her cause.

17 votes

Opinion: Facebook, Thanks For Letting Me Help Drug Companies

Those real-life quizzes at Facebook are a marketing ploy. The answers are helping drug makers have information from the nine million people that have signed up and quickly clicked along the test. I am one of the sheep in the masses.
The quiz has 150 or so questions that cover lifestyle and family history to give users a “biological age.” The RealAge people then offer users ways of getting the biological age younger by suggesting multivitamins, eating breakfast and flossing their teeth.

The quiz even has a huge endorsement from Dr. Mehmet Oz, a popular author and regular on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Guess who funds RealAge? Those crafty pharmaceutical companies pay the marketing company to send them the answers in an email.

That’s right kiddies, we’re all part of a marketing scheme that is helping the drug companies target the public.

But is that really so bad?

The bottom line is the quiz can give people a free way to learn how to improve their lives.

The New York Times reports:

“Our primary product is an e-mail newsletter series focused on the undiagnosed at-risk patient, so we know the risk factors if someone is prehypertensive, or for osteoarthritis,” said Andy Mikulak, the vice president for marketing at RealAge. “At the end of the day, if you want to reach males over 60 that are high blood pressure sufferers in northwest Buffalo with under $50,000 household income that also have a high risk of diabetes, you could,” he said.

The drug companies aren’t getting personal information from those who take the quiz. RealAge is the middleman. That means that drug companies are getting unbiased information.

That’s not a bad thing. Seriously, is it wrong for the drug companies to want to know the marketing information? We’re not being paid by them but we do need their knowledge when we’re sick. reports that some health groups are not pleased with RealAge.

Peter Lurie, deputy director of the Health Research Group at consumer advocate Public Citizen has a problem with the way RealAge could use its patrons’ medical information.

“Literally millions of people have unknowingly signed up” for the RealAge newsletter, Lurie said. RealAge “can create a group of people, and hit them up and create anxiety even though the person does not have a diagnosis,” he told the Times.

In the end it’s a personal opinion. If you don’t want your information and thoughts given to companies by marketers don’t take online quizzes. No one is twisting your arm to click their button. You have the power to keep the marketing companies in business or not.

Welcome to the age of the Internet!

Teen suing Facebook and former classmates over alleged bullying

An Oceanside, New York teen is suing four former classmates, their parents and Facebook for allegedly bullying her on the social network site. Denise Finkel is seeking $3 million for damages.
Newsday reports:

Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said, “We see no merit to this suit and we will fight it vigorously.

Now a student at the University of Albany, Finkle filed the lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. She is accusing her former classmates of creating a password-protected Facebook group for the sole purpose of “calculating to hold the plaintiff up to public hatred, ridicule and disgrace.”

The defendants, Michael Dauber, Jeffrey Schwartz, Leah Herz and Melinda Danowitz all graduated from Oceanside High School in 2008. According to Finkle the group made hateful claims including that she participated in bestiality and contracted AIDS.

Newsday reports:

Danowitz’s mother, Bari Lewis, called the lawsuit “completely frivolous.” She said her daughter, who attends the University of Delaware, “never wrote anything defamatory about anybody.”

While excerpts of the 2007 Facebook group did not name Finkle by name her lawyer, Mark Altschul of Manhattan, says that the statements referred to her.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

“She had a very difficult time in high school,” Altschul said. “They were making sure that she was an unwanted soul there.”

Opinion: Facebook Listens To The Mob, New TOS Shelved For Rewrite

The Facebook team put a new terms of service on the site on February 4, 2009 that has angered the masses. Those angry mobs have convinced the site’s staff to go back to their older terms, yet was there that much change to the new terms.
Last year I wrote an article about the terms of service on Facebook. The TOS, at that time, let members know that Facebook owned all information on the site, including your credit card information. At that time though you could eliminate your information after several difficult steps.

The new TOS changed that. According to the new TOS your information is on file for life with Facebook. That is the cause of anger.

The thing is there was a good reason behind the change of wording. In the past if a person went through the steps their information vanished. That information though could be needed in some cases if the person who was now invisible was say, stalking another person. Paper trails can be useful. The messages you have written prior to any cancellation of service will be available to the sender. Your photos and all other content will continue to be removed from the site.

Other media may have helped spread the anger over these changes.

CNN reported:

“Facebook should now be called The Information Blackhole,” one Consumerist commenter proclaimed. “What goes in never comes out. Be careful what you huck in there.”

Facebook is now rewording their TOS in order for everyone around the world to be able to understand them. The staff has also set up a page titled; Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. The aim of the page is for members to have an input on the new TOS that is being worked up. The newest version is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

Facebook is not claiming rights to photos and other content. They do have a license however to share the content that you put on their site. The actual wording as CNN reports is:

Facebook’s terms of service claim that the company does not have ownership over content, yet that it does have “an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (to)…use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works, and distribute” material as long as it doesn’t violate the privacy preferences set by the user.

Your information is not being shared without your permission. Owner Mark Zuckerberg admits that the wording was too broad on this issue. Facebook staff is attempting to do what may prove to be impossible — allow you to share your personal information with a select few and at the same time shield it from those who could be lurking in the hacker zone. It’s not an easy job.

If I give out my e-mail to my friends on Facebook that is my risk. My ‘friends’ could pass that information along to another. Facebook can not be held liable for that.

The terms on Facebook aren’t that different from any other social networking site. They are wordier though. It takes a while to sit in front of the computer reading each term. It’s always a good idea to thoroughly read the terms of service for any new site you want to become a member of. That is the only way to insure you are not signing away a right that you do not want to.

UK Prisoner Keeps In Touch Through Facebook

Don’t feel sorry for prisoner for life Ashley Graham, he’s loving his home. The killer who lives at HMP Lindholme, South Yorks has been writing up his holiday like life on Facebook.
Graham was sentenced to life in prison after stabbing a man through the heart in 2001. Somehow he has been able to log onto Facebook everyday with a mobile phone that has been hidden from the guards.

He is able to use the social network site to keep in touch with friends and his wife.

The Prison Service says that their inmates are not allowed to use the web or cell phones.

HMP Lindholme offers it’s prisoners a games room, TV room with DVDs and an activities centre for computer classes.

According to The Sun a recent Facebook status for Graham was:

“HMP Holiday’s a place where men can come for a nice relaxin break from their moanin women and crying kids. No stress just rest.”