Oh, Snap! Your Pictures, Social Media, and Privacy

February 8th, 2017 by Jennifer Lough

Micro Visions Social Media PrivacyAfter being strong-armed into getting a Snapchat recently (peer pressure is a pain), I got to wondering if social media privacy settings work. Or, for that matter, if social media can actually be private. As it turns out, they can’t.

  • In 2013, some guy proved that Snapchat doesn’t actually erase expired images or videos. Fortunately, he had jailbroken his iPhone and Snapchat has since fixed a few security holes since then, so retrieval is more difficult these days. Decipher Forensics can go after old snaps (for a price) though, so it’s not impossible. On the plus side, as of July 2016, Snapchat was dabbling in improving privacy with facial recognition.
  • Facebook, as some of you may know, began as thefacebook.com, a directory for Harvard students. It has since grown to a global information sharing hub, and it has a few privacy quibbles. Facebook says its users own and control their own information (but their privacy policy allows them to preserve and share that information, so there might be some sneaky language bouncing around). Mark Zuckerberg’s theory is that people want control, not privacy (he might have a point since Facebook users are notorious for posting pictures of what they had for lunch).
  • Twitter could have become very creepy after its MoPub acquisition, but thus far it has had fewer snafus than Facebook or Snapchat. It helps that the Twitter powers that be have a fondness for shutting down privacy and use policy violators. Of course, Twitter is technically public, which naturally eliminates privacy.
  • Instagram, holy grail of photo sharing, didn’t give me much to work with. They’re too busy sorting out Lindsay Lohan and Taylor Swift messes (from this I assume privacy isn’t too big over there).

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Duck Duck Goose: The Search for Privacy Online

January 3rd, 2017 by Jennifer Lough

Micro Visions Explores Duck Duck Go Search EngineIn my latest attempt to keep my persona off the Internet (a complete failure, given that this is a published work with my name on it), I discovered the latest must-use search engine: DuckDuckGo. It has absolutely nothing to do with Duck Duck Goose except that the creator thought it was a good name and borrowed it. Fortunately for Internet users everywhere, the man was a bit more intentional about the purpose of his search engine than about its name. DuckDuckGo is designed for privacy. The idea is that without any unnecessary cookies, tracking, directed ads, or user information logs, users can operate somewhat anonymously.

So, you may ask, does it work? Answer: Yes. DDG does pretty much what it promises, which is great. Read the rest of this entry »