Tag Archives: online

Defining privacy in the digital age – myths, pitfalls and positives

Privacy online has multiple meanings for different platforms and businesses – but what about us here at digi.me?

So much personal information about each of us is scattered about the web, traded, sold on and held in multiple places that we can neither access nor delete, that we can have no realistic expectation of full online privacy.

There can be no absolutes where one form of every kind of data that relates to an individual is owned and controlled by them without exception, and so online privacy is fluid when set against the norms of the offline world.

The last decade has also seen personal perceptions of privacy change and evolve dramatically with the explosion in online services and social networks on which many of us regularly post information which would previously have been considered for personal consumption only.

So how does all of this inform what we are and how we operate?

Well, digi.me deliberately enables a more private world, with more personal data under the control of each individual user, enabling them to use it as they wish, for direct benefits or insights.

But is it a privacy solution? We are often perceived as this but it’s not our primary aim as our strengths and business vision lie around the benefits of data gathering and controlled exchange.

The data still exists where it originated, but its combination with other streams and sources in one private digi.me library controlled by the user creates a body of information that is immensely more powerful than the sum of the parts scattered before this aggregation, as well as being completely private within the app itself.

This, then, is the true value of what we do, unlocking the potential of personal data, by bringing it together and creating greater value with associated complete security, with data only being exchanged or shared on the user’s terms, for their benefit.

But the constituent parts are not private in their original locations, and nor is there any way of making them be so – multiple copies of data are an expectation in the online world not shared by its offline cousin, which deals in physical entities of which often only one exists – a key reason why there can be confusion comparing the two.

Essentially, online privacy remains a fluid force, dependent in great part on the expectations of both parties when information is created and shared. What it means in any given context differs on nuances, with a broad variety of different forms available including private browsing, private sharing and private chat.

So privacy online becomes less about how each of us wants to define it, and more about how the services and platforms we use tell us they are defining it in that particular instance. We can then choose whether or not that is reasonable, and whether or not we, the guardians of our own privacy, want to partake.

Often, as seen with some of the bigger platforms, these terms and definitions will change over time – so part of taking back control of our online privacy is always being aware and as knowledgeable as we can be about what we are sharing, and with whom, and for how long.

There is no quick privacy fix, but one of the aims of digi.me going forward is to return ever more privacy to its users and enable an increasingly private world.

We are already 100% private in our operation, as we never see, touch or hold the data that users collect for their personal libraries. And we will soon enable individuals to exchange selected data with apps/businesses on a direct one to one permissioned basis.

Better for businesses as they get 100% accurate, fully permissioned data, as time goes on more and more businesses will go direct in this way, rather than scraping thinner, less accurate data from around the sides of our searches and transactions as is the predominant model now. A model that is increasingly working for neither the consumers nor businesses, which are increasingly at war over the methods used.

As more and more businesses go direct to individuals, there will be less and less money and demand for the ‘data scalpers’ and slowly their business model will become less economic and will shrink away – leaving the direct, privacy-enabling system as the major route for exchange of data for value.

Thus digi.me will enable a more private world where each user can choose how much data, if any, they are happy to share.

Sharing – change in control needed

Sharing today is generally seen as positive, but is also associated with negative aspects around privacy. If the negative aspects are not fixed sharing will slow and cease to the detriment to everyone, but there is a solution that will increase benefits to individuals, businesses and society as a whole IF there is a change in control – from business control to individual control.

Sharing is positive because it creates new services and functions that can help individuals, businesses and society as a whole. Sharing has grown through database marketing in 80s/90s; social media in the mid-00s; wider Software as a Service (SaaS) services since; and will grow exponentially more as individuals embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) – provided the “bad” can be controlled.

The negative is privacy; along with the increased sharing of information has always come concerns with regard to privacy. If we look back to the introduction of what might be termed database marketing in the 80s, increased privacy concerns led to the introduction of check boxes on forms stating whether businesses could use the information for other purposes. Today we have dramatically increased the personal data that is shared, both explicitly and hidden, whether that is social media, other web/SAAS services, monitoring of clicks and the like – and with that has come heightened privacy concerns.

The web related privacy concerns have grown ever more over the last 6 years, with greater numbers of people reducing/changing their social media use (or using more private channels), using Do Not Track, Ad blockers, ’going dark’ and other methods. The concept of the “creepy line” is well embedded now within society. Unconstrained and uncorrected, this will lead to a reduction in sharing, curtailing the positive benefits, and crippling new concepts such as IoT, which depends on greater levels of sharing.

This reduction in sharing leads to a discontinuity with dramatic effects. Not only will the Internet of Things be stillborn, but innovation in providing services based on personal data will stall across all domains (personal communications, commerce, health, etc). This will have a dramatically negative effect on businesses, but also individuals and society as a whole.

A BCG report “The value of our digital identity” states “The quantifiable benefit of personal data applications can reach €1 trillion annually to EU-27 by 2020  – with private and public organisations reaping about a third of the total, and consumers the rest” and then on goes on to say ““BUT much of this potential value will fail to materialise if consumers act to restrict the flow of personal data.”

How do we solve this problem and allow, even encourage, greater sharing? The current trajectory MUST be broken and restarted following a different approach in order for the full promise of personal data, inc. the IoT, to be realised

Change in control

There is a perception that there is so much data that it is currently infeasible for individuals to control it in a meaningful way with the information technologies available today, but our aim must be to provide that much needed control.

There are many suggestions for “personal data stores’ or “personal data lockers” and similar, hosted by third parties, to help individuals gain some control over their data. However, these all suffer from a number of issues: control is still via third party; the stores only hold a subset of data which means there is no overall control, no interoperability between different stores and no single point to access; holders of individual’s personal data (e.g. Facebook et al) often don’t allow access for retention by third parties. At best these systems are a band aid to the control issue and provide limited immediate benefits to individuals, severely limiting take up.

However, there is another approach – one in which the overall architecture is different, but at the same time familiar. By approaching the issue of privacy from an alternate architectural viewpoint, it is our contention that many of the problems are mitigated and contrary to there being an additional cost to privacy, there is in fact the reverse: an additional benefit to everyone involved with the new architecture, individuals, businesses and society alike – and at reduced cost.

The fundamental architectural difference is to return ownership and control of personal data to the individual, rather than the control being held exclusively by business

Personal control – the ultimate solution

Personal control is a simple change in perspective:

– Others don’t own your data – you do.

– Others shouldn’t hold your data – you should hold it yourself

By changing the view, this simple insight solves the privacy issue for individuals and the ability of businesses to access that data through user permissions.  This view, and the understanding that underpins it, has been developed by the company digi.me (formerly SocialSafe) in the UK, in a program of work that was initiated in 2009.

Having first downloaded the digi.me software to your device, the software works by retrieving your data directly to your digi.me library on your device – not touching anything else along the way, not the digi.me servers, not anything. A 100% private library of all your data, fused and normalised – social, financial, utilities, purchases, health, leisure and much more.

The digi.me user interface then allows the user to do more with their data, 100% privately, never losing it, and keeping access forever. It helps them be more engaged, have more fun, and to do more things, better – all locally and immediately, thereby giving that crucial incentive to start the process of regaining control of their data.

So digi.me is your librarian, but also extends to being your postman. The postal service is where digi.me controls a certificate system that allows other apps, web sites, etc. to ask the user for permission to see aspects of their data for a specific and permissioned purpose. If the permission is given by the user based on their perception of the offered value proposition, the digi.me app sends the permissioned portion of the ‘rich data’ to the requesting entity. This is summarised in the diagram below and in more detail in a video at http://digi.me/video

(Note: Whilst this architecture is different in that the individual owns and controls all their data, it was noted above that it was also familiar – that is because it is exactly what businesses do. Businesses hold all their own data – and then use local and remote apps to extract greater value. The individual is like a business with all the data available today – it should therefore not be a surprise that the solution is a familiar one!)

Conclusion

So by holding all their own data, individuals regain control and can do more with their data themselves and importantly can decide who they share that data with, what elements are shared, when, for what purpose – in this way the sharing economy can overcome the discontinuity posited above.

(Note: In my previous post I noted that we should define Privacy in the digital age as the “Ability to control your personal data, including who you share it with, when and for what purpose”. By owning your data you are then in control of your own privacy.)

Managing your Reputation – Tips and Tools

As the internet gets older so does our online digital footprint which builds up our online reputation.  Over time our online reputations have become more important on both a professional and personal basis.  Companies now look to our social media accounts to see if we have a presence there, they look at  what our behavior is like and how that will affect their companies. Companies too are protecting their own brand reputation online as this is what they use to trade on.

This article will detail some tips around how to manage your online reputation and provide links to a few useful tools that may help you to clean up you reputation online should you need to!

Top Tips for Managing Your Online Reputation

  • Monitoring your reputation – whether you are an individual looking for a job or a company looking to understand how you are seen by others online you need to consider monitoring your reputation but what tools can you use to do this. Well simply one of the most useful tools about is Google Alerts. Just enter your search criteria and see what news and key search data comes up on you or your company. Also consider including key company employees in these alerts so that you can see who has influence within your company.
  • Repairing the Damage – So you’ve seen some content that you really think is damaging your reputation.  Here are some ways to fix the damage.  If it is content that you own. Remove it and then ask for the content to be taken down by the relevant search engines. For example Google has a page removal tool in its webmaster tools.  If the content is owned by someone else try getting in contact with them and requesting that it is taken down. If the content is defamatory you may wish to consider a cease and desist request through a lawyer.
  • On Social Media – Monitor all the comments on your social media channels including your blog. Comments from competitors or that are negative towards you or your company/ products are not necessarily a bad thing if you respond reasonably and quickly.  Leaving the comments to fester or responding overly defensively or in an unreasonable way will leave a lasting mark on your social channels. If there is a user that is constantly just leaving negative comments that aren’t constructive consider moderating the user or banning them from your page or blocking them from your channels.
  • Deleting content – If you are going to delete comments or content on your social networks it is worth considering taking a copy/ snapshot of what was up there before you delete it in case for any reason you need evidence of what had happened. Compliance can also be another good reason to back up your content before removing it from social media sites.  You can use tools like Digi Me by Socialsafe to do these backups and they do follow compliance standards.

If you have some top tips for managing your online reputation or have a story to share about how you have done this, share it in the comments area below.

And remember if you liked this article share it with your colleagues and friends using our sharing buttons!

Friday Fun: Password Management

If you are anything like me then you have passwords for everything from banking to logging into your social media accounts. So many passwords to remember or in my case forget! But what happens when you find an issue or alerted to an issue?

Have you ever seen Facebook come up with an alert stating that there has been a suspicious login on your account and that you need to change your password with immediate effect? I certainly have and it rattled me somewhat.  It made me realise how much I value my social media content.  Until then I didn’t enable the two step authentication on Facebook, but now I do.  And you know what it’s well worth enabling.

I don’t know about you but these days as a result of that little scare on Facebook I now treat my social media data and services differently.  I treat them more like banking services. I also make sure that anything that I put on social media I would be happy for people to see in public.  After all you never know what data breaches may occur.  It is worth being wary of third parties holding and storing your data.

Whilst you have probably already got all your new years resolutions sorted for this year you may want to consider adding one to your list.  Take security more seriously especially when it comes to your personal social media data.  Consider using unique strong passwords and two factor authentication on your social media data and remember to back up your social data regularly.

SocialSafe v6.5.8 Released – Download Your Instagram Videos, Historic Data Pop-up and More

We’ve just released SocialSafe v6.5.8 and this latest version contains a couple of brand new features never before seen in SocialSafe.

First up we have added support for Instagram Video. This allows SocialSafe users to safely download Instagram Videos to their own machine, along with all the comments, tags, and likes. This works in the same way that we currently support Instagram Photo download, meaning that you can also search and export Instagram Videos from within SocialSafe. Here’s how the Instagram videos appear among your other photos in the SocialSafe journal:

download instagram videos

We’ve also added historic data pop-up. This is a really cool new feature that shows you your most popular content on that day in previous years. Ordinarily this will be your most popular photo from Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, but if there are no photos on that day in years gone by, your most popular written update will be shown. You’ll see this appear discretely in the corner of your screen, even if you don’t have SocialSafe open, and this will occur at 1000 hrs daily. This is how the historic data pop-up will appear on your desktop:

on this day

It wasn’t all just shiny new features with this release, there was some general maintenance that we had to take care of. We were aware that some of you had experienced problems with stalling syncs when backing up certain types of content from Facebook and Twitter – these have now been fixed, along with a .NET error and a sync looping issue. We also made some minor bug fixes and UI improvements.

We hope you like the new features we’ve added to SocialSafe, and as ever, if you have any further suggestions please let us know through our Feedback Forum, on our Facebook Page, get in touch via Twitter, or on Google+ or LinkedIn.

Tumblr Blogger Loses 100,000+ Posts – Are You Backing Up Yours?

Many of you will have heard stories about users of social network having their accounts deleted or blocked without warning nor consultation. Last month as popular blogger who goes by the name Bohemea had her Tumblr account shut down, losing over five years of work – totalling over 100,000 posts across two separate blogs – in the process.

Tumblr’s reasoning for this was that had received five complaints in two years from copyright holders over Bohemea’s use of their images without permission.

Speaking to HubSpot, Bohemea told Dan Lyons that she would happily have removed the images if Tumblr had notified her, but her entire account was just deleted without warning. Bohemea claims that similar fates have befallen other Tumblr bloggers.

This serves as yet another stark reminder that even though it may have our own name at the top of the page, the content and data that we create and store online belongs very much to whomever is hosting that data on our behalf. As we have seen all too many times in the past, legitimate accounts and pages can be taken down without the content creator being given a chance to make a copy of their thoughts and memories. And getting your data back from third-parties is not exactly easy.

If your online life is important to you, then take control of your data and get your whole story on your own machine with SocialSafe. Download your social network content including friends, messages, photos, comments, posts, updates and blogs, all to your very own digital journal where you can view, search and export your whole story.

Have you ever had account content deleted unjustly or without your consent? Tell us your stories in the comments section below.

Find Out How Twitter’s TV Ad Targeting System Works

Twitter has just raised the bar in terms of cross-platform marketing, by giving US advertisers the opportunity to target people who will have just seen their television spots. After beta trials in May, Twitter’s TV Ad Targeting is available to all US advertisers as of today.

The re-marketing mechanism is pretty clever, and combines the ad schedules of TV programmes with sentiment tracking on Twitter. Say a company runs ads for their product or service across several shows and networks. Twitter then identifies people who are either naming or mentioning the show in their tweets, or people who are using appropriate hashtags. It’s reasonable to assume that if someone is tweeting about it then they are watching it, and as a result will have probably seen the company’s ad during the break.

Twitter then lets the advertisers target these people by appearing in their streams via Promoted Tweets. This sort of re-marketing opportunity allows the advertisers to offer their potential customers different things, depending on the product. The tweet could simply be plain text reinforcing the message from the advert, a video or image that further explains or entices, or just straight up link to a page where the Twitter user can immediately purchase the product.

The technology behind Twitter TV Ad Targeting is based on BlueFin Labs, a TV analytics service that was acquired by Twitter earlier this year. Michael Fleischman, co-founder of BlueFin, explained that due to video fingerprinting technology Twitter is able to automatically detect when the TV commercials have aired, so the brands don’t have to give Twitter the heads-up each time.

This all seems like a logical step forward in terms of coherent multi-platform marketing, and if Twitter’s Nielsen studies are anything to go by, it seems to be working. By combining Promoted Tweets with TV ads, the combo deliver 95% stronger message association and 58% higher purchase intent than TV ads alone.

Do you tweet while you watch TV? Perhaps you’ve even seen a Promoted Tweet and thought that it seemed familiar? Maybe it was a beta trial of Twitter’s TV Ad Targeting. If you do tweet along with your favourite shows, maybe it’s worth taking a bit more notice of the adverts to see if your Twitter stream correlates.