Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp Outage

Last Wednesday, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were down for many users around the globe. It turned out to be the longest outage they ever had. As a Twitter user, I saw many people complaining on that platform. In fact, we saw a few people had even just signed up for Twitter so they could complain about Facebook or Instagram.

Facebook even took to Twitter to let people know what was going on. At 1:49 pm, they acknowledged they were having problems. At 3:03 pm, they confirmed that it was not a DDoS attack. On Thursday afternoon, they said the problems was due to a server configuration change that caused the problem.

Facebook Outage

Many people took to complaining on some sites that report outages, sometimes even showing a map so you can see how widespread the problem is.
You can check which sites are down at these places:

Gift Idea: Oculus Go

The other day I was in a Best Buy store and came across a salesperson with Oculus Go. I was curious. After talking to salesman about how it works, I had to give my name and email (of course) in order to try it out. So what is it? It’s a standalone VR headset. Standalone in that you don’t need to hook up your phone or a computer to see the content and can take just the headset with you. It fits right over eyeglasses. There are built-in speakers. It has a 2560 x 1400 p screen. It comes in 2 models: 32GB ($199) and 64GB ($249). It only comes in a light gray. The company is owned by Facebook.

So here I am in the middle of the store holding the controller with my arms outstretched playing demo games and watching demo movies. You can see above you, behind you, and all around. I got to see a demo short of Jurassic Park Blue. It was like the dinos were right in front of me. I played a game that was a lot of fun called Fail Factory. I must have been moving around too much because the sales person had to move me back. They do suggest you use this sitting down for that reason. It was a lot of fun and I am contemplating getting one.

Some caveats – rechargeable battery life is only about 2 hours gaming and 2 1/2 hours watching movies so you can’t plan on it for an entire flight if your flight is over that. There is only 3 degrees of freedom rather than 6 in most VR sets. Case is sold separately (unless you find a deal that includes the case). 32GB will hold about 3 HD movies, 10 games, and 20 apps. 64 GB will hold about 7 HD movies, 20 games, and 40 apps.

The Jody Victor Crew

Facebook Breach

By now you’ve heard about last week’s Facebook breach in which 50 million user’s accounts were impacted. This time, attackers had the ability to directly take over user accounts. Facebook logged out 90 million users from their accounts – the 50 million affected and 40 million more that may have been. They also announced that other sites could be affected if you use your Facebook credentials to log into them.

The persons responsible, who haven’t been found yet, were able to get to the access tokens, kind of like session hijacking. The problem was found in the video uploader page. Find out more about it from How-to Geek.

Other Uses for Social Media

Maybe you love, maybe you hate it but social media is here to stay. Many people used it as their lifeline during the past storm in Texas, known as Harvey. Many used Twitter or Facebook or Instagram to let people know they were in stuck and needed to be rescued. Still others used social media to let people know they were able to help.

The U.S. Coast Guard preferred for people to call them or 911 but people had trouble getting through. People even turned to Airbnb to offer their homes as shelters for those in need. The Hurricane Harvey Texas Rescue Facebook group offered ways to help those trapped or in need of rescue.

Facebook button options

Facebook gets asked a lot why they don’t have a “Dislike” button. Mark Zuckerberg’s answer is that they don’t want to become a place where people have up and down polls.

He does realize that when someone shares a sad story (my dog died) nobody wants to be the one to click “Like”. So in answer to that, they are working on making an empathy button of some sort. This way you can let someone know how you feel and commiserate with them.

See his response to the “dislike” button here:

the Victor crew

Social Media in the midst of crisis

Facebook has some ways to help support those affected by the Nepal earthquake. There is an option to donate to the International Medical Corps as they send in their emergency response teams to help the injured. You can use the Facebook donate feature. In addition, Facebook has pledged to match donations up to $2 million. You can find out more here.

Facebook also has Safety Check – a way for those affected to let others know they are safe. Since people seem to check in on Facebook when in trouble or crisis, this is a great thing on their part to help.

Did you know you may have a Facebook email address?

If you have a Facebook account, then you do have a Facebook email. The problem is, Facebook has disabled the inbox for this and redirects all your Facebook email to your main email account. The problem is, spammers can figure out your Facebook email address by finding your profile. Your email address is @facebook.com.

The good news is that you can disable the Facebook email address in your Facebook settings. Here’s how:

Log into Facebook. Click on the little lock and choose the link on the bottom of the flyout that says “See More Settings”. Once there, click on General. Click on Edit next to Email. Uncheck the box that says “Use your Facebook email…” Click Save Changes. You will be asked for your password for verification.

For apps:
Log in to Facebook app. Click on the menu at the top. Scroll to Account Settings. Touch General. Touch Email. Uncheck “Use your Facebook Email.” Changes should be saved automatically.

Log in to Facebook app. Click on More on bottom right. Scroll to settings. Touch General. Touch Email. Uncheck “Use your Facebook Email.” Changes should be saved automatically.

Jody Victor

What does Facebook know about you?

In a new study conducted by Stanford University in California and the University of Cambridge through an app on Facebook called ‘myPersonality’, there were 86,220 volunteers who completed a 100-item personality questionnaire. They also gave the researchers access to their ‘likes’. The scores revealed five traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

The app also allowed the users to ask friends and family to answer a 10-item test about the test subject.

What this showed was that the computer could predict the user’s personality better than any co-worker based on 10 Facebook likes and even better than a close friend or roommate with 70 like; a parent or sibling with 150 likes; a spouse with 300 likes.

They found the average Facebook user has 277 liked pages.

Jody Victor

Facebook’s “Year in Review” app

If you are a Facebook user, by now you have seen the “Year in Review” app. It will pop up in your feed and allow you to preview it before publishing it to your timeline for all to see. But was this a good thing? Jody Victor’s crew found that it chooses some random pictures you have posted and were most engaging and puts them together as a montage. I have seen a few of these. You can find out more about the Year in Review app here.

For some, the memories and reminder of the past year were not quite so poignant. For Eric Meyer, who lost his daughter this year it was a jarring reminder of his loss. He posted about it in his blog. Facebook has since apologized for the app and the pain it has brought him. Eric in turn apologized for the escalation of the story on the Internet that took place afterward.

Whether you choose to use or even preview the app or not is up to you. You have the freedom to choose.

Facebook in the news

There are a few items about Facebook in the news this week that Jody Victor‘s crew found:

1. Facebook at Work. Facebook wants to compete directly with Linkin for your work networking. Referring to it as FB@Work, the effort is currently based in London. At this stage there hasn’t been a formal announcement but if you search for it, you will find much information on this. Some say you will be able to keep your work profile completely separate from your personal profile. We will just have to wait and see.

2. Facebook privacy. Once again, Facebook has revamped it privacy policies. One thing to be aware of is that when you post something, you can choose who can see it. But Facebook can always see everything. Ever notice that once you “like” something (like a website or store), several ads show up right under it that are similar?

3. Facebook ads and promotions. Facebook realizes people come to Facebook to see what is happening in their feeds and have listened to the complaints about how many ads are showing instead of friends and pages they care about. Starting in January 2015, you should see less promotional content in your News Feed. So just because you “like” a page doesn’t mean you want to see every post they make. This is what will change.

Short History of Facebook

Facebook has been around for 10 years as of February.

Did you know the very first Face-book started as early as 1902? The Western Times newspaper referenced it as a “novelty for wiling the time in country house.” It was sort of a guest book where people coming to stay would have to draw a face and sign their name below it. You can see the original clip here.

Facebook as we know it started at Harvard, then known as Thefacebook. It was only open to Harvard students in the beginning. It was eventually extended to other Boston universities, the Ivy League, and then all Canadian and US universities. It wasn’t until September 2006 that Facebook was opened up to anyone over 13 with a valid email address.

You can read the full history on Wikipedia.

Jody Victor

Are you a grandma that “Facebooks” to your grandkids?

If you are, you’ve probably started to type something on Facebook and noticed that as you type, some suggestions pop up and if you hit “enter” it will automatically add that item, or tag that person.

Well, it seems that Grandmas are being tagged as “Grandmaster Flash”. So who is he? He’s a Hip Hop/Rap Musician and Artist. He seems to be pretty cool with it. In fact on his Facebook page, he posted a short video telling us so. Even tumblr has been collecting the posts.

Grandpa Jody and Grandmaster Flash

What would happen if you “liked” everything?

That’s what Mat Honan from Wired wanted to find out. So he “liked” everything for two days on Facebook. He shares his incites with us.

Starting with a quoted interview from Art News, he starts off with a quote by Andy Warhol: “I think everybody should like everybody.”

For the two days of his experiment, Mat “liked” everything whether or not he really did. He wanted to see what Facebook would show him, or how they would change his feeds. He found rather quickly that once he liked something, he was shown a lot of related ads. He found he’s be in a loop if he kept it up so he only “liked” the first four related ads and no more. After “liking” many things he normally wouldn’t have even paid attention to, he noticed his content changing to the point where all he saw was brands and messaging rather than the people in his life.

Another thing he noticed was that his feeds on his mobile device and desktop were different. On his desktop he did get to see some of his friends items but on the mobile all he saw was sponsored messages.

Another thing Mat found out is that his friends feeds had changed – they were beseiged with everything Mat “liked” – to the tune of 70% according to one of his friends.

You can read the full article on the Wired website.

Jody Victor

A Facebook Experiment

Jody‘s crew found an article that said that Facebook conducted an experiment in which it altered the News Feeds for hundreds of thousands of users. The experiment was outlined in a paper by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. There was no link to the paper but after finding their site and searching it for “Facebook” found there were several experiments conducted with Facebook.

In this particular experiment, the News Feeds of over 680,000 English-language Facebook users either had emotionally negative or emotionally positive posts removed from their feeds. The feeds were still available by clicking a friends timeline but not on their own News Feed unless they reloaded it.

According to the article, this type of “data manipulation is written into Facebook’s Terms of Use.”

Visit the article.

See the Facebook studies conducted by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jody Victor suggests if you use Facebook, do so carefully. Don’t expose too much private information to people outside your circles or the public.

Tech news this week

It is suggested you change your password especially if you use the same username/password combination for PayPal or other sites. They have had a breach this week. All passwords were encrypted so they are garbled … for now. They are working with investigators into the attack.

Facebook added a new feature that will identify a song, TV show or movie that’s playing while you write your status update. It will listen to your surroundings (similar to Shazam) and give you the option to add it as you update your status. It will use your phone’s microphone

Nest was bought earlier this year by Google. They are now recalling 440,000 fire alarms due to a defect that could cause users to turn it off unintentionally.

Jody Victor

Tech news this week

You may have already heard of Yahoo! Screen. Now they want to go a step further and compete somewhat with YouTube, even poaching their some of their stars according to an article by re/code. They aren’t looking to allow users to upload all their content but want to pick the most popular ones and offer better deals.

If you are a developer, you would have received an email by now telling of the revamped Google Play Developer Program Policy. Google is attempting to cut down on deceptive advertising practices from app developers and other third-party services. You can view the policy and hopefully report any apps that may be violating the new rules.

Printer Ink
Want to save money on ink? Use Garamond font. A 14-year-old boy from Pittsburgh, Suvir Mirchandani, did a study on his own to see how he could save his school district some money. He found he could save as much as $21,000/year just by switching to the thinner Garamond font. You can read about his research here.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook plans to use drones and lasers to improve Internet access. They plan to fly drones over areas that don’t have access. They are also looking into beaming Internet to people from the sky. Read more here.

~ Jody Victor

Interesting news from Facebook and Yahoo

When you tried to choose your username for a Yahoo account, did you have difficulty finding the one you wanted because it was taken? Well now you can make a watch list of names you would like (your 5 top choices) and if those accounts have been inactive for a year, you may get your wish. According to their blog, you will have had to fill out the wishlist last month to obtain it for free. Otherwise, it will cost a mere $1.99.

Facebook now has shared photo albums. Suppose your family had a reunion. Everyone who took pictures could upload them all to the same album! Think of the possibilities: weddings, other milestone events. The album creator can share access with up to 50 contributors, who can each share up to 200 photos. There are 3 privacy settings: public, friends of contributors and contributors only.

~ Jody Victor

What is privacy?

Privacy is the state of being private. Private means you personally own something. In the world of the internet, privacy is no longer considered a right. You may have heard in the news the recent items about NSA and Google or NSA and Microsoft (Skype). If you are using one of the big companies for email or documents, you cannot expect privacy anymore.

Jody’s crew came across an article by Bernard Marr titled Google: Forget Privacy When Using Gmail. Google has admitted to reading emails in order to target for advertisers. They consider you as turning over their information to a third party when you use their service. So if they are targeting you with advertisements from your emails and you share you computer, you cannot expect to keep a surprise a surprise from someone in your household.

Another article by Bernard Marr is about How Facebook Exploits Your Private Information. What he says in this article causes me to pause before I click a “Like” button. This too is used to target you for advertisers. Facebook can even track you when you go to other sites gathering even more information on you. Facebook even has “face recognition” capabilities to track you and your friends from the profiles you have filled in.

Use caution when sharing any information via Facebook or Gmail. Know that there is no such thing as privacy anymore.

~ Jody Victor & Crew.

So what’s so different about a Facebook phone?

Well, Jody, we found this article that explains it. It’s not really a “phone”. It’s not really an “os”. It’s not even really an “app”. It is more of a homepage to your phone. Right now when you unlock your phone, you are faced with maybe a clock, a widget, some apps, maybe all on wallpaper. With Facebook Home, you will see a Facebook interface with your friend feeds, some photos, or chat bubbles. Facebook Home replaces the lock screen and homescreen of your phone.

Facebook Home becomes available as a download through Google’s Play Store April 12. As of now, Facebook Home is exclusively for Android users. Sorry Windows and iOS users.

Hey Jody, What were the top tech stories for 2012?

Jody Victor® found out what CNN Tech picked for the top tech stories of 2012:

  1. Microsoft Windows 8 – a complete overhaul of how Windows works.
  2. SOPA backlash – (Stop Online Privacy Act) bills that would have restricted access to sites with pirated content and anyone associated with them including search engines, ads etc.
  3. Live-tweeting war – Israeli military tweeted updates in a conflict with Palestinian forces in Gaza.
  4. iPhone 5 and the Apple Maps debaucle – Apple developed their own map app while dropping the Google Maps app.
  5. Apple vs. Samsung – Apple accused Samsung of infringing on their patents which ended in a trial. The jury decided in Apple’s favor.
  6. Facebook’s IPO – The most anticipated IPO fell flat when it’s initial price was $38 (too high). The stock hit a low of $17.55 September 4.
  7. Instagram – Started out as an app, but when usage skyrocketed, Facebook bought it for $1 billion in cash and shares (later dropping to $735 million as Facebook shares dropped.
  8. Megaupload and Kim Dotcom – Kim Dotcom founder of Megaupload, a file-sharing company, had his various sites shut down by the F.B.I. for piracy.
  9. Mid-sized tables become popular – Apple’s iPad Mini, and similar-sized devices from Google and Amazon.
  10. Nintendo offers Wii U – Wii U has a touchscreen tablet controller called a GamePad that communicates with the main console.
  11. Yahoo hires Marissa Mayer – The day she was hired, she announced her pregnancy. Stock has risen $4 a share since her hiring was announced.
  12. Tech and the presidential election – President Obama used Google Plus and Reddit to respond with voters.

Thanks for finding this, Jody.

Jody Victor® Shares about privacy when posting to Facebook

Jody has more to share about Facebook privacy:

Control Your Posts:

Each time you post, you can choose who sees your posts by clicking on the sharing icon. The icon of the “globe” is to make something Public. The “people” icon is to share with friends and the “gear” icon is to customize who views or hide from specific people.

If you tag someone, or you approve someone else’s tag on your post, that person and their friends will see it no matter what audience you choose.

Think before you post. Information you share can be copied or shared by others who see it. Here are some points to remember:

  • Choose who you share with. If you hide your birthday, for example, no one will see it on your timeline but if your friends say “happy birthday” on your timeline, your secret is out!
  • When you write on some someone else’s page, story, or timeline, that person selects the audience. If you intended it for a particular audience and that person changes who can see it, what you wrote will change along with it.
  • You can control who sees the “liked” Facebook pages on your timeline by clicking on the “Likes” box and clicking “Edit”.
  • Assume if you do not see a “sharing” icon, the information will be public.

Control Your Timeline:

Control who sees what on your timeline by clicking the “sharing” icon. The icons for the audiences are the same as above.

Even though you may control which friends are visible on your timeline, the full list is available for games, applications and websites you use. Your friends may also be visible on your friends timelines and in searches. If you have your friend list set to “only me” and your friend’s list is “public”, anyone will see your connection on your friend’s timeline.

Your gender will only hide on your timeline if you hide it.

When someone tags you in a story or photo, you can hide or show it on your timeline.

Points to remember:

  • You can hide items on your timeline but they may still be found elsewhere.
  • People may be able to see mutual friends but not your list of friends.
  • Your name, profile pictures, and cover photos will not have sharing icons because they are always public.
  • Once again, if you so not see a “sharing” icon, assume the information is public.

Jody reminds everyone to think before you post.

Jody Victor® shares more about Facebook Privacy

Jody has some more to share about Facebook’s privacy policy.

When you make your information “public”, it is open to everyone to see. This means all your information, timeline, photos, user id, username, profile pictures, etc. are open to the public. It can show up if someone does a search on Facebook or with a search engine on the Internet. This information is also accessible to games integrated with Facebook, applications and website you or your friends use. Others can share your information when they choose to make information public.

Information that is always publicly available:

  • Name
  • Profile Pictures and Cover Photos
  • Network
  • Gender
  • Username and User ID

Facebook uses your information in connection with the services and features they provide. They may be used to bring you advertisements relevant to you, use location features to tell you or your friends when there may be an event near by, data analysis for service improvement etc.

Facebook will not share your information unless they have your permission, have given you notice, or removed your name so you won’t be identified.

Data is stored as long as necessary to provide products and services.

You can deactivate your account and put it on hold. Others will not see your timeline anymore but your information is not deleted in case you want to reactivate your account. Your friends will still see you listed in their friends list while your account is deactivated.

When you delete your account, it is permanantly deleted. It takes about one month to delete an acoount but some information may be in backup logs for up to 90 days. Some of your posts to a group or messages to a friend remains even after you delete your account.

Jody suggests you use Facebook prudently.

Jody Victor® wonders about Facebook’s privacy policy

Jody Victor suggests you look at Facebook’s privacy policy to find out what is and isn’t actually private.

Part I:
Information they receive and how they use it.

When you sign up, they ask for your name, email address, birthday and gender.

Information you choose to share: when you post a status update, upload a photo or comment on a friend’s story/photo, add a friend, “like” a page or website, add a place to your story, find friends using their importers, or say you are in a relationship. Your name, photos, gender, username, and networks are treated as public. Your birthday allows them to target your age group for advertisements and content.

Facebook also receives information about you from your friends when you are tagged, upload your contact info, post your photos, location, etc. Facebook may store this information about you.

Facebook also received data about you when you look at a friend’s timeline, send or receive a message, search for a friend or page, click on or interact with those items, use your mobile app or purchase through Facebook. They also receive data from your photos such as time, date, location.

Other data:

  • Computer mobile phone or other device (IP address, internet service, location, browser, pages visit, GPS)
  • When you visit a game, app or website that uses Facebook Platform (IP address, browser, operating system, if you’re logged in they receiver your userid
  • Advertising partners, customers, third parties that help them deliver ads

Next week, Jody will explore more about Facebook’s privacy policies.