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TODAY'S TOPIC - AGGREGATORS: PROS AND CONS
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This past week I came across YooNo, an app that "aggregates" - that is, combines - your various social media websites into one program. It looked very cool - runs on PCs, Macs, Linux, mobile phones, as a Firefox plugin or a desktop app, even as a PortableApp. I set it up first in Firefox, then as a PortableApp so I could see 10 of my social media sites on one screen.

Click to see full-size!Click on the thumbnail photo here, and you'll see my Facebook page in the Yoono PortableApp. As you can see, I placed it in the lower right corner of my screen where my Skype opens up. At first, it was fun clicking on each of the little Yoono buttons for my Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr, AIM, Live Messenger, GTalk and Yahoo! Messenger accounts to see who was putting messages there.

Then I realized that I'm not much of a Twit, and have hardly any contacts on any of the other sites except LinkedIn: Facebook is my big social media site where I have a couple hundred contacts... so I just left Yoono set to my Facebook account. Also, Yoono doesn't display all the links for your account settings that are on the regular Facebook page. "So, why do I really need Yoono?" - I said to myself, as I deleted it from my Startup folder and added a Facebook tab to my Firefox browser. "I'll just check my LinkedIn account occasionally, when I receive email notices from LinkedIn."


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice there is. - Yogi Berra


There are several apps like Yoono that aggregate some of your social media accounts, and the social media websites themselves are getting into the act: maybe you've heard recently that Google took a lot of heat when the new Google Buzz app began automatically aggregating your contacts and account content from various Google properties into Buzz. After simmering on the back burner for a week or two, Google decided that it didn't fit in with their "Do No Evil" slogan, so they reset the default to "No" for this aggregating mechanism. And just last week I also received the latest Windows Secrets e-newsletter that contains the article Hotmail's social networking busts your privacy telling how the folks at Microsoft are up to the same mischief.

But what happens when these new aggregators scour the Internet for anyone and anything you've ever had contact with, and start publishing all this in under your name on your Hotmail, Google Buzz or Facebook page? That's exactly what What new Facebook updates might mean for your privacy tells us:

There is a new privacy setting [in Facebook] called "Instant Personalization" that shares data with non-Facebook websites and it is automatically set to "Allow." Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites and uncheck "Allow." Please copy & repost.
The above article describes how people, for example, who listen to the same style of music you do on the Pandora website could have automatic access to your music picks, and you to theirs. Do you really want someone you've never heard of having access to your personal tastes?

Maybe we should start a mass action: send messages to Facebook telling them to "Turn off the Instant Personalization by default." You should be aware, however, that even if you turn off all the sharing options on all your social media, email and other Internet accounts, anyone with a little skill and sufficient motivation can scour the Internet and find out lots of stuff about you ...likely including some things you'd rather not be known.


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Be careful, though, when you receive email messages about some nasty new feature that Facebook, Buzz or Hotmail is adding - some people had emails appear in their inbox telling them Facebook was going to start charging $4.99 or so per month for their account. Before you go to the suggested website and forward the email to a bunch of your friends, check it out on Snopes or similar "urban legend" sites: is it really true, or is it just a harmless "urban legend" ...or is it a trick to pull you to their malware website? Here's what Snopes says about these Facebook Charges:

WARNING: DO NOT JOIN the group "We are against paying $4.99 for Facebook" - IT'S A VIRUS AND A HACKER! There are extremely graphic images at the website they suggest you visit. FACEBOOK has no plans on charging us. ELIMINATE THIS GROUP from your groups & run your spyware ASAP. REPOST THIS AS YOUR STATUS on your Profile. Thanks
...so if you want to verify what I've just written about Yoono, Google Buzz and Hotmail, please check it out on Snopes!


Would you sell your soul for an XBox Game Station? This article tells how an Internet service included exactly this clause in its EULA (End User License Agreement). For them, it was just a spoof, a harmless joke. But is this something you want your kids or friends to consent to when they blindly click the "I Agree" button before downloading some software?


The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Yours truly,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

RobertD HoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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