Uninstall Facebook Applications Internationally Day (UFAID) September 1 2009

I am a fan of Facebook. I enjoy using it and it has brought me closer to a lot of awesome people. We are even approaching 1000 people on our Facebook Fan Page!

stopBut I can’t handle Facebook’s lack of respect for our privacy. The fact that it shows me “dating website” advertisements (I’m married and they KNOW this!?) even after I mark them “thumbs down” and “irrelevant” or sometimes even “offensive.” Yet they return.

In response to previous privacy concerns, Facebook launched a charm offensive for better Facebook Governance. As someone who studies PR, this was a smart thing to do. Start by listening and their blog in fact did request feedback. Great job! But wait! There’s more!

A few months go by and this poor chap finds a dating advertisement on his Facebook profile featuring a photo of HIS WIFE! Not cool. At all. Facebook’s response on the unauthorized use of the photos is:

In the past couple of days, a rumor has begun spreading that claims we have changed our policies for third-party advertisers and the use of your photos. These rumors are false, and we have made no such change in our advertising policies.

If you see a Wall post or receive a message with the following language or something similar, it is this false rumor:

FACEBOOK has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures WITHOUT your permission.

The advertisements that started these rumors were not from Facebook but placed within applications by third parties. Those ads violated our policies by misusing profile photos, and we already required the removal of those deceptive ads from third-party applications before this rumor began spreading.

I feel for them. But the answer seems weak – it wasn’t us. It was a third party. And we stopped the practice AFTER y’all complained about it. The weak link in the chain here is the facebook application provider. I’d like to see two things change to improve security and privacy on facebook.

  1. Facebook needs to be explicit about the “reputation” of a particular application provider or advertiser. Make this transparent. I LOVE the “report this” next to the advertisements, but as I mentioned above, for me they are ignoring my feedback. And why can’t I see EVERYONE’S feedback on an application or an advertisement? Would this type of transparency be a bad thing?
  2. We, the Facebook customers, need to uninstall as many applications as possible. We need to uninstall these unnecessary Facebook applications for our own safety until we can see more transparency. Just remove them. Only add back the necessary ones. So many people remove the box from their profile and THINK they have removed the application. They have not!

We propose September 1st 2009 as Uninstall Facebook Applications Internationally Day (UFAID).

Not all applications mind you, just the ones you don’t trust or recognize.

To uninstall your Facebook Applications follow these steps:

  1. Login to Facebook
  2. Click on your “Profile” link at the top of the page.
  3. Scroll down to the “Applications” link on the lower left. Click it.
  4. Click “Edit Apps” link which should take you to a page like this: http://www.facebook.com/editapps.php
  5. IMPORTANT Change “Show” from “Recently Used” to “Authorized”!
  6. Click the “X” next to the applications you want to remove.
  7. Confirm.
  8. Repeat until all cruft and untrustworthy applications are removed.

Find any applications you did not realize were installed? Yup, thought you would. Put them in the comments below so we can see the sneaky ones?

Michael Jackson Creative Commons Photo

From a random trip into the wax museum in Tijuana Mexico while in San Diego on business.

michael jackson wax by eschipul

Yes I enjoyed Michael Jackson’s music. But I guess I never really “got it” at the level of so many people. Since MJ passed away, this creative commons photo of Michael Jackson has taken off in traffic on flickr. So I thought I’d cross post it here.

As a creative commons photo, you are free to use with attribution “photo by Ed Schipul” But you might want to get the full high resolution version here.

Commercial Real Estate Bubble to Burst

A cross post from a guest blog post on the Houston Chroniclebubbles-of-commercial-real-estate

Commercial Real Estate Defaults Increase – A Good Thing?

Several economists I heard speak recently at the GHP Growth Summit pointed out that every recession in the US ends when real estate rebounds. Real estate leads us out of recessions. So just as real estate led us into this mess, with help from some really dim people who actually thought they were smart, (cough**Harvard needs Ethics training**cough**no really**) so we need real estate to lead us out.

To be clear, until residential and commercial real estate bottom out and rebound, the recession/depression will continue. You have to hit bottom before you can come back up.

But there is a problem with that. Commercial real estate is still in a bubble. And the commercial real estate bubble has not yet burst. It will.

Read the full post over on the Chronicle here.

Firestorm: Plan. Predict. Perform. with General Honoré

Yesterday I had the honor to participate in a hurricane and disaster preparedness Webinar with (client) Firestorm and the distinguished Lt. General Honoré.

Katie live-blogged the Predict Plan Perform webinar on the Schipul blog here:

Families trump business – you must have a plan in place to make sure all of your employees are covered at home. More than 95% of polled employees do not have a plan for their families, or just focus on a single risk and do not take into account more than one potential disaster or occurrence.

Almost 2/3 of companies that have gone through a disaster have lost business. 40% of those businesses never re-open and 25% fail within 2 years after a disaster.

Read the emergency response blog post recap on the schipul blog here.

Yammer – can we have an emergency preparedness option?

I posted previously on Yammer. That it was a big help for us during Hurricane Ike in 2008 in Houston. During the hurricane the ONLY thing that worked was text on the cell phone. sailboat on a truckNo voice. No data plans on the cell. No land lines. Certainly no cable or dish or regular TV. Radio worked, but that is listening only. The only way to communicate person to person is by texting. Or I suppose HAM radio, but we don’t use those.

Yammer is a new company, so we thought it “broke” when the SMS portion stopped working. But then I realized they moved the “SMS feature” to a paid plan for $1 per employee per month. OK, I rolled with that. I signed up, with 25 employees that means I am spending $300 a year to have an emergency back channel to all of my employees. I’ll pay that. And I do.

Of course using a service like yammer for emergency response is problematic – because you want the emergency communication to be SIGNAL it means we can’t use the service for regular conversations as that becomes NOISE. Employees won’t tolerate 50 text messages on their cell from their coworkers. Filtering by a list, and only that list, to automatically text using a prefix like “ice:” adds complexity. And in a crisis you want things dirt simple. So our implementation of yammer is that

  1. Everyone gets text messages from any other employee.
  2. We test it once a month.
  3. We Pay yammer $25 a month to have this as a backup plan.
  4. And are quiet but confident in case an emergency comes along.

I am sure this implementation puzzles yammer. “These guys in Houston pay monthly, but never use it. What’s up with that?” So the first thing Yammer should do is have an “emergency mode” so that when turned on by an administrator EVERYTHING is sent by SMS until turned off regardless of all other settings, time of day, carrier, etc. Any messages is texted to all in this mode. If this were done we might be able to use other features of yammer.

And ahhh, about those other features. They added a bunch including now “Directory Integration” and “Priority Customer Support”. Alas, with all of these features they insisted on bundling SMS with them. And raised the price 300% from $1 to $3 per employee. No go. While their product might be worth $3 per employee for firms that use it for communication, it is NOT worth $3 per employee for a dormant backup communication system.

If anyone from Yammer is reading this, how about it? Can we have a lower cost “emergency communication” only option at the $1 price? I’d rather not change at the onset of hurricane season but I can’t justify $900 a year when there are other options on the market.  And can we stop adding features that complicate the interface?

What other solutions are out there for emergency text broadcasting to a restricted list of people?