Tag Archives: Privacy Policy

Twitter Releases White Pages Of User Accounts

In a move that is sure to draw fire from privacy enthusiasts, Twitter has published a white pages of its user accounts. When asked why this was done, the company replied, “to help people find the accounts they’re looking for with various search engines.” The white pages are now crawlable by Bing and Google.

For the social media agency this means it will be easier to search the profiles of Twitter users. This may not present much gain, because many of the profile pages had already been indexed and crawled, but this development does mean that all of them will be searchable once the engines are done crawling them. Once it is done, then doing a search for user accounts will be simple for the social media agency. The agency will be able to discover all the Twitter accounts that have registered “Minneapolis” as location. Even if the location is not specified, if there are links in the profile, then the search engines will pick up those connections. Because most user accounts are not secret identities, this means the agency will be able to significantly increase its catalogue of relevant Twitter accounts, such as those liking cupcakes or certain brands of motorcycles.

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FaceBook Increases User Control

FaceBook, under increasing scrutiny by users, legislators and now future shareholders, is opening up its privacy policies to the larger public. The framework is still not completely open as there are hurdles that need to be jumped. For a change to put up to a vote, it needs to receive 7,000 comments advocating the change. FaceBook will then open up polling on an action item. If at least 30% of active users support the action item, then FaceBook will implement it.

This is not good news for the social media agency. The odds are good that nothing will ever qualify for a vote. Accumulating 7,000 comments on a single action item is difficult, but 30% of active users—what qualifies as ‘active’ is unclear—might be around 15 million users all agreeing. The reason this is bad news for the digital agency, though, is because there is no upside. Despite the difficulties if a vote does pass it will only make targeted ads more difficult. FaceBook’s growth has been astounding during what some consider draconian privacy policies. This change will not increase traffic or engagement. It will not bring any new users into the fold, so it represents no upside and only a possibility, ever slight as it seems, of a downside.

This is not to say, however, the social media agency ought to abandon or downplay FaceBook in their efforts. Maybe some people will feel better about the right hand column and look at it more thinking privacy is taking on a more serious quality. Odds are though that this is merely a PR victory for FaceBook on the eve of its IPO.

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