Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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Cover Your Face!
I will admit it. I've never been the strongest privacy advocate. My rationale was that I have nothing to hide, so it doesn't really matter.
I'll gladly divulge my religious, political and social stance on any issue, as regular readers will attest. You may not always agree with me. In fact, it would be dangerous if everyone thought the same.
But as the writer, it's my job to express what I see. Privacy isn't an option.
The error of my mindset began to sink in while researching Not So Private, an article that appeared in the April 7, 2009 issue of GCFlash. You can still find it on our website.
This article was written before Facebook became a common, household word. The site was just gaining speed and on pace to overtake rival MySpace in popularity.
That was before FB became a market symbol. Before they needed to boost revenue to appease stockholders.
Facebook, like Google and countless others, is a free service. At least, to their millions of users.
Someone has to bear the cost of such technology. Mark Zuckerberg didn't become a kazillionaire by providing a free service.
Facebook, Google, and others like them earn their keep through stockholders and by selling ad space. In so doing, they become accountable to those holding the purse strings. Not those using their service. Their "customers" are truly their product.
They're not selling your personal information. But your privacy really isn't their prime concern.
We covered Facebook security enhancements this past January in Will Your Face Be Shown? We won't rehash them here.
Instead, we'll talk about what others can learn from your likes and posts.
Involved in a legal dispute? Lawyers have admitted to scouring Facebook accounts to gather information against people for criminal cases or child custody. They'll search for family photos in immigration cases to uncover sham marriages.
A recent study revealed that 70% of recruiters have rejected job applicants based on data they found online. It goes deeper than those college keg party pictures. Your Facebook Likes reveal whether you're a good fit for the cultural environment of the organization. They reveal sensitive, personal attributes like sexual orientation, personality traits, intelligence, use of addictive substances and a lot more than that. Simply based on which Like buttons you choose to click.
Certainly a lot of this can be common sense. You like Christian pages, you're probably a member of the Christian community. You like Ronald Reagan, it's pretty fair to say you're a Republican.
Others aren't so obvious, but still say a lot. A University of Cambridge study studied Facebook behavior and used the digital data to create an algorithm that measures psychological traits. They didn't rely on any one page alone, but found users who liked a multitude of pages in common would tend to exhibit similar traits.
Another duh.... you might think. But some might surprise you. They appeared to have no connection at all.
For instance, the best predictors of high intelligence were users who liked The Colbert Report, Science and Curly Fries, according to the report. Low intelligence indicators were Harley Davidson and Lady Antebellum.
Liking the TV show Desperate Housewives or the musical Wicked indicated homosexuality.
Your likes don't have to directly relate to a specific topic to reveal personality traits.
So why can this be problematic? The stores you shop at may deliver coupons electronically to their followers. But the stores you select can reveal whether you're trendy, laid back, athletic or eco friendly.
Insurance companies may offer lower rates to applicants who run marathons, and pass the higher costs to those couch potatoes that play a lot of video games. Your credit standing may be tarnished if you shop in stores that attract those with a poor credit history.
Your choices in life determine your fate. Before social media, you could more easily learn from your mistakes, fix them and move on.
But your digital life is much like energy. It never dies. It can continue to haunt you without you even knowing the source. How can you fix that and move on?
How To Sell on Craigslist
Spring cleaning? Those items you're tossing may be exactly what someone else is looking for.
Advertise them on Craigslist!
Preparation is key. Clean up whatever you're selling. If it's an old cell phone, delete all of your contacts and personal information. Detail a car. Polish an end table.
Search for similar postings on Craigslist. How much are they asking? What details are they including? Check eBay, too.
Buyers want to get the best deal. If you have a bottom line, include haggling room in your asking price. If you want to sell the item quickly, discount it from what others are asking for similar items.
Shoppers know what they're looking for. Create a concise headline with one irresistible adjective. Don't use all caps or exclamation points. They appear gimmicky.
Provide detailed information about your item. Use bullet points to highlight key features rather than a rambling, text paragraph. Use descriptive keywords in your post.
Be honest about the item's condition. People are looking for used goods. If there's a small scratch in one of the legs, tell them. Better to tell them up front than to waste your time, and theirs, if the defect is something they can't live with.
Keep documentation handy to support your quality rating. If you're selling a car, for instance, have service records available and a Carfax history report.
Take good photos to upload. Set it up in natural lighting. One full-length shot and a few close ups from various angles will show the potential buyer what they'll get. Make sure they're no bigger than 800 pixels wide so the viewer won't have to scroll all over to see your item.
Once you're happy with your listing, publish it in the appropriate category. Craigslist will send you a link to confirm your posting. Save the email. It details how and where to edit or delete your post after the item is sold.
The best time to target weekend shoppers is by publishing your ad between 6 and 7 pm on a Thursday.
Craigslist respects your privacy. They offer you an anonymous email address to keep spammers at bay. Responses to your ad will be forwarded to your personal address.
Don't include a phone number. Or use a disposable number like Google Voice or Texter. Most transactions can be completed via email without making your phone number available to everyone on the Internet.
Cash only, please. There are plenty of scammers on Craigslist, no different than anywhere else in society. You could get responses from folks who have a "certified check" for an amount over your asking price and ask that you refund the difference. Or pass a bad check. Taking cash only protects you from these crooks.
Once you sell an item, be sure to delete the post.
Not selling? Craigslist has a barter section. Maybe you can trade it for something else that caught your eye.
There's a free section, too, for stuff you don't want to haul all the way to Goodwill.
You'll find something for everybody on Craigslist. Be astute, do your homework first and close the deal.
Tip of the Week
Want to know how much Facebook knows about you? Go to your Account Settings and click Download a copy of your Facebook data.
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