Justice Department Memo Tells Which Telecoms Store Data the Longest

  • “People who are upset that Facebook is storing all their information should be really concerned that their cell phone is tracking them everywhere they’ve been… The government has this information because it wants to engage in surveillance,” an ACLU staff attorney said.
  • A newly released Justice Department internal memo reveals the retention policies of Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint.
  • Verizon seems the most privacy-friendly, but is the only company that retains text message content. Messages are stored for 5 days; other companies don’t retain message content at all.
  • The retention of “cell-site data” (information of a phone’s movement history based on phone tower usage) varied the most among the four providers.
  • “Verizon keeps that data on a one-year rolling basis; T-Mobile for ‘a year or more;’ Sprint up to two years, and AT&T indefinitely, from July 2008,” reports Gizmodo.
  • Senator Patrick Leahy proposed to alter the Electronic Privacy Communications Act to “protect Americans from warrantless intrusions.”
  • To see your provider’s retention policy, check out the graphic featured in the Gizmodo post.

Facebook Deals Shutdown: Is There a Future for the Social Coupon Biz?

  • Facebook Deals, which offered coupons for local businesses in Facebook users’ main news feeds, officially shut down on Sunday.
  • While some assume the shutdown suggests a failure, sources say that Facebook cut the program because of limited engineering resources the company wanted to place elsewhere.
  • “Groupon and rival LivingSocial are no doubt pointing to Facebook’s withdrawal as evidence that the business is harder to replicate than people previously thought,” reports All Things D.
  • Groupon and BuyWithMe have introduced technology that attempts to track consumer loyalty following their first voucher purchase. Other companies in this space, including Google, are ramping up their coupon platforms, creating mobile solutions that “will recognize when people are close to a deal and allow them to redeem it immediately,” suggests the article.
  • “Last week, Microsoft launched Bing Deals, which is aggregating deals from other major providers to help users browse, find and purchase them in one place,” according to All Things D. “Ironically, that site is being powered by The Dealmap, which Google acquired in August.”

Are There Key Ingredients Missing from Facebook Music Sharing?

  • Following last week’s F8 developer’s conference, and the news that Facebook is making a significant shift into media sharing, Wired offers an interesting take on possible missing elements to successfully sharing music via the social network.
  • “Yes, Facebook will facilitate legal music sharing — something the industry has been trying to do ever since Napster electrified (some would say “electrocuted”) the music business over 10 years ago,” suggests the article. “But as important as it is, Facebook’s music initiative is missing five key ingredients, all of which are within its grasp.”
  • According to Wired, the following are the missing ingredients…
  • True Music Sharing: Facebook should allow people to listen to each other’s music using whatever music service they want. Instead of using the service that the friend is using, you should have the option to select which platform you would like to use. They’ve started doing this (somewhat unfairly) for Spotify with a “play in Spotify” link in shared songs on other platforms, like Rdio.
  • Real-Time Group Listening: “Why didn’t Facebook music launch with the ability to join other listeners on a station in real-time, so that people can chat about what they’re hearing…?”
  • Music Tab in the Ticker: With all the new information coming to Ticker through automatic updates in Open Graph, it would be nice to have a music filter to separate music updates from other things like adding friends.
  • Apple: Apple, iTunes and iCloud were not included in the media system and would be beneficial to users.
  • Independent Developers: Facebook just needs to “stay out of the way” of independent app developers that build third-party players atop their catalogs — apps that could offer a range of interfaces, platforms, designs, features, and more to programs like Rdio or Spotify.

QR Codes Proliferating: Are You Ready to Become a Human Hyperlink?

  • Quick Response (QR) codes are beginning to resonate with a variety of users. Retailers, publishers, art institutions, musicians, government organizations and charities are all using QR codes to direct customers to a variety of online opportunities (contests, information, party invites and more).
  • The QR codes are square, checkered symbols that can be scanned with smartphones by downloading free scanner apps.
  • Starbucks used QR codes for a scavenger hunt, the Red Cross used them to direct people to a relief donation page, ABC included codes in magazine ads for the new series “Pan Am” and now every 2013 vehicle in dealer showrooms will be required by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency to have QR-coded fuel economy labels.
  • A company called Skanz now sells silicone braceletes with QR codes so anyone can scan your wrist and access a Web page with your contact information, social media links, and more. You can create different “Skanzsites” for professional and personal use and if you don’t want to wear a bracelet, you can instead buy iPhone4 cases with codes on them or QR decals.

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