What age is right for a digital identity?

Image by Master OSM 2011 Flickr CC

To share or not to share, that is the question. Facebook has put this dilemma to parents this week, with the launch of a new “scrapbook” feature, which allows parents to create a profile tag for a child.

Facebook noticed that parents were tagging each other on photos of their children. But the photos being shared make it hard for parents to manage photo collections. By creating a page for the child, these photos can be marshalled into one location. It’s a profile page for children in all but name, managed by parents. Currently under 13s are not permitted their own profile.

As boundaries between the online and offline worlds have begun to merge, we need to start grappling with how we treat our digital presence. Putting aside digital naysayers, there’s an increasing feeling that if it’s not online, then it doesn’t exist. And the same applies to people. Like all technologies, the online world is as good as your interaction and use of it, with positives ranging from establishing social connections, generating business, engaging in activism and trading in digital currency. There are grey areas such as when universities and employers check websites and social media to learn more about prospective candidates. That’s great if they are viewing a carefully crafted online CV, but historic tweets or long forgotten Facebook photos can come back to haunt future life.

Just as parents are responsible for teaching children how to conduct themselves in public in a socially suitable manner, and how to keep themselves safe, parents need to understand that offering digital guidance and education to children is an important element of their parenting duties. How to create a profile, how to manage it, how to interact in the digital space and how to maintain safety, security and reputation should not be left to chance nor excused through parental ignorance.

(Via The National)

How Facebook knows your friends, better than you do

Image courtesy of Jennifer Daniel

How does Facebook know who your friends are? There’s still a lot of confusion and misinformation about what Facebook’s doing when it “finds” your friends. Alas, Facebook’s actual process isn’t actually that sneaky or malicious. In fact, it involves this pretty complex academic field called, network science.

In a nutshell, whenever you sign up for a Facebook account, Facebook asks permission to look at your e-mail contacts if you’re on a computer, or your phone contacts if you’re on a smartphone. When you grant the site permission, it searches your contacts for users already on the network, and it searches other users’ uploaded contacts for you. That gives it a very primitive outline of your social circles: who you know, but not how you know them or how well.

To refine that map, Facebook asks you more questions about yourself: where you went to school, when you were born, what city you live in. Each field in your Facebook profile and each interaction you make through that profile actually double as a source of data for Facebook’s mapping algorithms. What they’re trying to do is determine the structure of the network: where the cliques are, which people bridge them, who knows who.

Once Facebook knows the structure of your social network, it can analyze it to predict not only the people you’re most likely to know now, but the people you’re most likely to know in the future.

(Via Daily Times)

Want To Get Your DNA Tested? There’s A Facebook App For That

Image Courtesy of WWW.ISGTW.ORG

“Facebook” and “DNA” are two words you probably don’t want to hear in the same sentence. But an ambitious new research project, Genes for Good, is now using the social network to collect genetic information. The researchers heading up the project say that your information is safe with them — but not everyone’s on board.

Genes for Good participants will answer questions about their lifestyles and health histories using a Facebook app. The scientists hope to collect data from 20,000 people, which will be used for research on the role that genes play in disease, and the ways that genetic and environmental factors interact to create conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and schizophrenia.

Facebook’s powerful platform will allow the researchers to access a large, diverse group of people. Using social media, the researchers hope to sidestep some of the hurdles of traditional recruiting methods, which are often slow and expensive.

The main concerns for potential participants is privacy-related. While the research team says that Facebook does not have access to any of the participants’ information beyond the fact that they signed up, the idea of having personal health information hosted on the social networking giant is disconcerting to some.

“We will do our best to keep your information secure, but … there is a small risk,”Dr. Michelle Meyer said. “We obviously hope that people will feel like the balance of advancing our understanding of the links between health, disease and the environment — and eventually enabling better treatments for many diseases — is worth that small risk.”

(Via Huffington Post)

Facebook to host The New York Times content on its app

Image News Talk Florida

The New York Times reported the paper will give up some of its website traffic to the social-media giant, a move that some media observers call a power shift in digital publishing landscape. Under the proposed deal, Facebook would host content from prominent news outlets such as The Times, National Geographic and BuzzFeed directly inside the Facebook app.

“What’s popular in social media tends to be big, national news, happy, engaging stories, whimsical stories,” says Anatoliy Gruzd, director of the social media lab at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management. “If the focus is only on creating what’s popular for social media, that kills diversity of news.”

(Via CBC News)

Facebook to host The New York Times content on its app

Image News Talk Florida

The New York Times reported the paper will give up some of its website traffic to the social-media giant, a move that some media observers call a power shift in digital publishing landscape. Under the proposed deal, Facebook would host content from prominent news outlets such as The Times, National Geographic and BuzzFeed directly inside the Facebook app.

“What’s popular in social media tends to be big, national news, happy, engaging stories, whimsical stories,” says Anatoliy Gruzd, director of the social media lab at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management. “If the focus is only on creating what’s popular for social media, that kills diversity of news.”

(Via CBC News)