google gmail users…beware

While perusing another blogger’s site, I came across this information which might be of importance to Google Gmail users.

On Tuesday Google updated its privacy policies to make it absolutely clear that it is scanning your email.

 

It added these sentences:

Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.

It also tweaked a few sentences that warn that all the stuff you upload to Google is considered fair game. (Google included the editing marks, to show you exactly which words it changed):

When you upload,or otherwise submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

This information comes at an interesting time. Google is being sued over email scanning, in a suit from 2013, where the plaintiffs allege that Google violated wiretapping laws by scanning the content of emails, Ars Technica’s Casey Johnston reports.

However, last month, the judge in the case did not allow the suit to go forward as a class-action suit. That put a damper on the case because individual email users would each need to pursue lawsuits, Johnston reports

The change in the privacy policy also comes on the heels of Microsoft’s decision to put its “Scroogled” ad campaign on the back burner. Scroogled was Microsoft’s attempt to bash Google over issues like email scanning. But thanks to a recent re-org, the guy running the Scroogled campaign no longer controls the ad budget, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-warns-we-are-scanning-your-email-2014-4#ixzz2zpRvXeoK

…”big brother” is watching…no surprise, really…

………hugmamma.

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tiptoeing…through the internet…

Hover!

Image via Wikipedia

I lead a double life as I’m sure most of us do these days. We’re on the internet doing our thing, whatever that might be. Meanwhile the gods hover overhead controlling the maze in which we find ourselves. We’re mice looking for that tasty morsel, that “feel-good moment,” which momentarily quiets our brain in its perpetual hunt for satisfaction.

facebook engancha

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Addicted to social networking is putting it mildly. We’re as committed to the internet as we are to the automobile and foreign gas. Yes, there are those who have managed to side-step both life altering inventions, but they are decidedly in the minority. But I would venture to guess that they too are affected, just as non-smokers are by second-hand smoke.

The Human Body -- Cancer

Image by n0cturbulous via Flickr

According to Webster, “Cancer…1. a malignant growth or tumor that tends to spread. 2. any evil that spreads destructively. …” I liken the pervasive invasion of Google and Facebook into our privacy like a cancer that can only have dire consequences. And just as a victim of the dreaded disease is never certain of his prognosis, so too we users of the internet might be viewed as lambs led to slaughter. When and where we meet with our destruction is yet to be seen.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

You can draw your own conclusions from the following Wall Street Journal article in today’s paper.

Google Widens Its Tracks
by Julia Angwin

     In a move that could make it harder for Google users to remain anonymous, Google Inc. said it would start combining nearly all the information it has on its users.
     This could mean, for instance, that when users search via Google, the company will use their activities on sister sites like Gmail and YouTube to influence those users’ search results. Google hasn’t done that before.
     Google’s move–which was disclosed in a privacy policy that will take effect on March 1–is a sign of the fierce competition between Google and Facebook Inc. over personal data. Facebook has amassed an unprecedented amount of data about the lives of its more than 800 million members–information that is coveted by advertisers.
     Google traditionally hasn’t had the same amount of personal data about its users, and has kept much of its personal data separate.
     But as Facebook gears up for its planned initial public offering this year, Google has amped up the competition.
     Last year, Google launched its own social network, called Google+ in members’ search results. Google’s latest move would allow the company to include insights from services such as Gmail and YouTube to search results as well.
     This could effectively rewrite the relationship between users and the world’s most-popular search engine.
     Google has long treated users’ search queries as sacrosanct–in part because they can contain very personal sensitive information–about topics such as health and finances.
     In June, at The Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital conference, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said, “Google will remain a place where you can do anonymous searches. We’re very committed to having you have control over the information we have about you. So, for example, if you want to continue to use Google and don’t log in, and don’t tell us who you are, that will continue to be true forever.”
     Mr. Schmidt’s statement would remain true for people who aren’t logged into a Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Android phone or an other Google account. But as Google’s services become more ubiquitous and deeply linked, it could become more difficult for users to take Google up on that promise of anonymity.
     “Google now watches consumers practically everywhere they go on the Web–and in real life, when using a mobile phone,” said Christopher Soghoian, an independent privacy and security researcher in Washington D.C. “No single entity should be trusted with this much sensitive data.”
     Google said that it isn’t collecting any new information, just combining it to provide better service to customers. For example, the company said that it could alert a user that he is going to be late to a meeting based on Google’s analysis of the user’s location, calendar and analysis of traffic on the road to the meeting.
     “We’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience,” Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering, wrote on the company’s blog.
     Google added that it would continue its policy of not combining user’s personal information with data about their Web browsing collected by its DoubleClick advertising network.
     The company last year signed a privacy agreement with the Federal Trade Commission. The settlement requires Google to ask users for permission before changing some of its privacy settings and requires the company to submit to privacy audits for 20 years.
     This month, the company launched an advertising campaign touting its commitment to privacy.
     Google until recently refrained from aggressively exploiting its own data about internet users to show them online ads tailored to their interests, fearing a backlash. But the rapid emergence of rivals such as Facebook has caused it to change its policy over time.
     In 2009 Google for the first time started collecting a new type of data about the websites people visit, and using it to track and show them ads across the Internet.
     Last June, the company launched Google+, which was intended to rival Facebook, Twitter Inc. and other social-media companies whose users have willingly provided information about themselves.
     With Tuesday’s changes, Google is “setting the stage for one-upping” Facebook in terms of being able to better target online ads to website visitors based on what it knows about their interests, said Brian Kennish, a former Google programmer who runs Disconnect Inc., a firm that offers software to block Google and other companies that collect information about Web users.
(–Amir Efrati contributed to this article)

Makes me think of former New York Governor, Elliott Spitzer. He trolled the internet seeking sexual favors from women on online sites. I’m sure it’s safe to assume there are millions of men who do the same. What they do in the privacy of their own homes is their business…or is it? Not anymore it seems. Google is now the all knowing eye. Will it give up its information for money? To buy political favors? To get the Feds off its back? Who knows?

Profile shown on Facebook in September 2011

Image via Wikipedia

Our privacy is no longer sacrosanct. It’s in jeopardy of being relinquished to the highest bidder, which in this case…are the deep pockets of the almighty advertisers. They want to know what we want…so they can sell us more of the same. A vicious cycle over which we’ve ultimate control. Or do we?

We seem willing pawns in the battle of the gods. All of this may seem far-fetched, and I may be the one who cried wolf once too often. My voice is lost amidst the din consuming the internet. I’m just Chicken Little running around shouting “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” And the resounding response? Silence. 

English: A chicken running Français : Un poule...

Image via Wikipedia

Even i have no idea what it is we should do…

Chicken Little (2005 film)
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…tomorrow…i’ll think about it…tomorrow…

………hugmamma.      

twitter…hummingbird?…or nasty bug?

Ellen DeGeneres

Not sure how many of you tweet via twitter. My brother sold me on the idea eons ago. I took it as a compliment that an older, tech-wise sibling thought my writing was good enough to hit the air waves. Hesitant at first because of all the advice against “putting it out there,” I finally went for it. I get how it’s done, on the most elementary level. WordPress included an icon which, when clicked, sends my posts into the internet stratosphere. That’s the extent of my understanding. I’ve visited my twitter site which looks like Greek to me, except for the fact that Ellen de Generes is tweeting to it regularly. Can’t say I’ve been asked to return the favor. No matter. She’s like a hummingbird whose tweets I find musical. 

Recently, however, I’ve noticed that before I’ve even tweeted my posts, it’s already been done…twice. How’s that happen? I thought perhaps my brother lent a helping hand, and maybe WordPress. If I recall, it would happen most times, but not always. So I thought perhaps certain words in my post triggered the tweets. Happy not to have to bother doing it myself, I didn’t give it a second thought. Today, however, I decided I’d better tweet, because my posts might not be making it to my own twitter site. That the other tweets were posting to other sites. I can rationalize anything, even if it makes no sense.

Follow me on Twitter logo

Image via Wikipedia

When I clicked the twitter icon, I was asked to “sign on,” something I’d not been asked to do in sometime. Try as I might, the resulting prompt indicated my username and/or email did not match up with my password. So I proceeded to request help from Twitter Support. Indicating they could help me reset my password, I decided to do that. To my total surprise, shock actually, the message I received from them to my email address was to a “Helah Chester @helacobtendy.” “Who the heck is that?” I thought. 

I never did learn who the perpetrator was because my query to Twitter Support said their service was down, that I should try again later, or that my username and password didn’t match. Well about this time is when my cable service was shut off while the Comcast repair guy worked his magic. When it was up and running, I decided to click on the name and email address Twitter had sent in their message. Up popped their screen saying that that the account had been “unsuspended.” The screen was then replaced with my Twitter site which looked as it should. Thereafter when I proceeded to tweet my recent post, it worked. Go figure.

Alex Payne from Twitter at Bear Hug Camp.

Image via Wikipedia

When I first sought Twitter’s help in the matter, their site did indicate they’ve been having problems, beginning 3 days ago, and again an hour before my visit to their site. Makes me worry. Do these internet gurus know what the h–l they’re doing with our information? Makes me doubly worried.

So was Helah Chester a victim of their bungling, like I was? Or is there something more sinister at work here? Hummingbird? Or nasty bug? Depending upon what any of you might have to offer by way of explanation…

Nature at Its Best (2254321574)

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…i may have tweeted my last note…although my hubby thinks i’m overly cynical…could i be?…hugmamma.

“geotagging,” wordpress.com

Geotagging

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My blog buddy, scriptorobscura, alerted me to another potential “geotagging” hazard. And it’s on our blogs. Yikes! We’re all grown ups so I guess wordpress.com felt each one of us should decide our own fates. We can opt to have our whereabouts tracked through our blogs, or we can “pull the plug” on that particular feature. It’s up to us. Here’s what scriptorobscura had to say.

One Response to “internet theft,” geotagging scriptorobscura says:

March 5, 2011 at 4:28 AM (Edit)

Thank you so much for alerting all of us to this and for sharing this valuable and sobering piece of information with all of us. This is something that everyone needs to be aware of.

By the way, if you have not already, you can disable (or make sure it is already disabled!) geotagging on your WordPress blog (gasp! did you know that blogs had geotagging too? Egads!) by going to your dashboard, clicking on users, then clicking on personal settings, and then unchecking (unticking?) the little box on the uppermost right hand corner under the heading My Location. Phew!

Hope this helps Huge, huge hugs for all the information that you share with all of us…thank you so much for what you do…

One Response to “geotagging,” wordpress.com scriptorobscura says:

March 5, 2011 at 9:29 AM (Edit)

By the way, I forgot to say that after you uncheck the little box, you have to click on the “save changes” button on the upper left to make sure that your preferences are saved! Otherwise it might still permit geotagging on your blog!

                                                 

we’ve both “got your backs”…hugmamma.  😉

 

“spokeo.com,” selling your personal info

Had coffee with friends Mary and Amy who still attend Kristina’s exercise classes. I vowed that I’d be back soon. Need all that bumping and grinding to keep my “plumbing” in top notch working order. Anyway…

Mary informed us of a very interesting and scary bit of info.  Amongst many online sites that are probably making money off of our heretofore private information is one called “spokeo.com.” My friend explained the rundown of personal data the site had amassed on her, her husband, and their 2 daughters. After gasping in disbelief, I whipped out my notepad to take some notes. Mary proceeded to inform us how we could opt out of “spokeo.com.” At least they give you that!

I’ve successfully removed one of my files. I need to repeat the process for another, and then do the same for my husband and daughter. Of course doing so doesn’t extract my information from other websites guilty of the same identify theft, but it’s a start.

So here’s how you can proceed to follow our lead if you like.

  • Go to “spokeo.com”
  • Type in your name.
  • Select from among the choices offered. (There are 2 other people blest with my name, or something akin to it.)
  • After you gather your wits about you, scroll down to the very small print, and notice “privacy.”
  •  Before clicking on “privacy,” however, take your cursor to the top of your screen’s left hand corner where you’ll see the URL for your profile. Copy it. Then click on “privacy.”
  • “Paste” your URL in the area indicated.
  • Type in your email address so that “spokeo.com” can confirm that your profile has been removed from their listings.
  • Finish by typing in thecode word provided.
  • You will be instructed to visit your email address.
  • You will be asked to click to confirm that you desire removal.
  • VOILE! Your personal info will be returned to your safekeeping…until some other site makes you a “star.”

Maybe I’m a real novice to internet intrigue, but with a little help, no, a lot of help, from friends, and family, I can hang onto my innocence a little while longer. And if you want my help? Hey! I’ve “got your back” too!!!

why can’t people think of ways to make money without underhandedly mooching off of others?…hugmamma.

wordpress.com, working for me

Having blogged on 2 sites prior to WordPress.com, I find that this site is the most user-friendly. Being technologically challenged, I thought I might have given up before now, frustrated that I wasn’t reaching an audience with whom to share my journey. Two months later, I’m still blogging, and you’re still reading, with many more having joined us. There were moments of doubt, but my passion for writing kept me going, as did several handfuls of viewers who said my words meant something to them. Their sentiments went a long way in “stroking my ego,” something we all need to maintain our motivation, and grow our self-confidence. Thanks to them and now, many more like them, I continue to share life experiences which might help those in need of compassion, validation, consolation, laughs and perhaps, hope. None of us are going it alone; we’re all striving, to live our best lives. I’m not Oprah, but I am one voice trying to make a difference, one person at a time. 

WordPress.com has been an ally in my efforts to share my writing. While I’m not one of the famous bloggers on this site, I still feel my voice is welcome. I’m certain I have far less traffic than the Wall Street Journal’s blog, but I’m grateful for the readership I have. It’s more than I would have imagined. Once I established its  look, purpose, technical details, and alerted friends and family to my blog, I began composing my posts.

Along the way I made new discoveries about WordPress.com, some intentional, others accidental. Since I’m anal about details, I always figured my way in, and around, obstacles. When I succeeded, I cheered my own efforts. When I ran into a “wall,” I turned to my husband for help. His assistance was limited however, because I was more familiar with the inner workings of WordPress.com than he. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d know something more about the computer than my husband. Feels kind of good, except when I’m really stuck. The great thing is that I’ve always been able to resolve a problem by consulting WordPress for Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson, or search through the site’s extended inventory of helpful information, or email the support staff.

When I’m blogging the last thing I want to encounter are technical “hiccups.” On Oprah.com I would lose what I’d written from time to time. Because of this I’d first type my draft on Microsoft Word, then copied and pasted it onto my blog site. WordPress.com automatically saves my writing as I’m typing. I’ve published 124 posts, not having lost one in the process. While comments are encouraged, WordPress.com moderators will hold off publishing ones which might be “spams,” letting me decide whether or not they are. This gives me a sense of security, which was a definite plus on Oprah.com. But while both sites had that in common, over time I felt Oprah.com’s moderators were sometimes too involved in whether or not something was or wasn’t allowed. That aside, I might have remained on the site if it hadn’t morphed away from personal blogs, in its transition to Oprah’s new venture, OWN TV.

Crafting the look of my blog was fun, especially personalizing the header with my own photograph. As I became more comfortable with my new “home,” I found inserting photos and YouTube videos relatively easy, thanks to WordPress.com instructions, and my own dogged determination. Growing readership is always a challenge, but this site also assists by “threading” posts throughout their system, as well as offering various other aids, one of which is “stumbleupon” which has garnered additional readers for which I’m very grateful. Early on I took advantage of a link to “Facebook,” which also quickly bore fruit. While typing away contentedly, WordPress.com continually informs me of further services that can enhance my blog experience.

The one disadvantage to WordPress.com is the inability to sell items. Since I dabble in antiques, collectibles, folk art, and crafts, I might look elsewhere to satisfy my retailing inclination. While this feature is available on Blogger.com, the first site on which I blogged, its “no holds barred” attitude about privacy is somewhat discouraging. I understand it’s going through changes to make it more competitive with other sites, so I’ll keep my eyes and ears open. Meanwhile, I’m happy where I am.

wordpress.com, working for me…hugmamma.

oprah, one door closes…

Today is the beginning of the end, but when “one door closes, another opens.” I’ve not followed Oprah as avidly as millions of other fans. But I have admired her from afar, preferring to remain on the periphery of her empire. I’m not one to march to the beat of someonelse’s cadence; I like making my way through life, listening to the ordinary folks who offer practical advice. I admire celebrities for their accomplishments, but don’t identify with their lifestyles for they seem of another stratosphere. Their biographies are entrancing, especially those of movie stars from the “golden age of Hollywood.” I not only enjoy them for their entertainment value, but also as scripts about lives gone awry. In many cases they’ve made me appreciative of my life, not envious of the riches and fame which probably cause or exasperate the problems of the stars.

Oprah is unique in being able to walk the line between celebrity and ordinary. She is friends with John Travolta, Celine Dion and the Obamas; yet she can envelope audience members in a huge hug, as if they were long-lost relatives. Oprah’s charisma may leave strangers wanting more of her and, perhaps, from her. With $2.4 billion, how can she ever be sure of people’s intentions.

I was blogging on Oprah’s site before it morphed into its current format, which serves to promote her own cable network, OWN. Maneuvering through the blog world on her former site, I encountered both adoring fans, and “doubting Thomases” who questioned Oprah’s genuineness. While I’m not one to hang on her every word, I do credit her for pulling herself up by the “bootstraps,” and for funding philanthropic projects. My opinion, which I’ve shared in responses to others’ blogs, is that Oprah has lived her best life, as well as helped others live theirs.

Along with Oprah’s mega bucks comes mega responsibilities, mega privacy and security issues, and mega loss of a simpler life. Her’s is mine, amplified by a million, even a billion. I can grocery shop, walk my dog in town, sit in an audience, hug my family in public, have coffee with exercise friends at the local Starbuck’s. Oprah can do it all bigger and pricier, but she won’t enjoy it any better than me doing it smaller and cheaper. And I can do it without the scrutiny of the world. So I take my hat off to Oprah who, despite her wealth and fame, has maintained her human touch as evidenced by fans world-wide who, unlike her, live ordinary lives.

So while she bids farewell to 25 years hosting her current talk show, Oprah opens another “door,” onto OWN. It’s speculated that there’ll be an audience of 70 million ready and waiting, seats already “reserved.” She’ll want for nothing as she goes forward continuing to lead her best life, so I’ll just send Oprah…

hugs, and prayers…for continued success…hugmamma.