Facebook and Google play the smear game

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The latest in the Facebook and Google battleground

The week that was saw one of the biggest online accusations get fuelled to an almost controversy stage. The outcome isn’t quite clear as it because as smear campaign you never know which giant takes on the other in which form, but it certainly has raised serious questions regarding the use of personal information that’s made public online. Appears, Burson Marsteller was hired by Facebook to leak the scoop against Google. While this may just be a publicity stunt, and smear campaign, it doesn’t undermine the seriousness of the matter, and that’s what needs t be discussed.

Apparently, Google social search is leaking information that has been made public by you. As such, if you use a common id to log into multiple social network channels, Google would get access to those channels, and use the information made public there. The working is simple. It tracks your activity and makes a compilation. Though, it’s not difficult to find people through linkwheels, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a user would want to make certain information public to certain people. Previously Facebook has also had to put up with similar allegations wherein information was being sold to third parties without the knowledge of those who signed up.

Does your Google profile reveal too much

One would agree that most people today have a Google profile, which in itself does give out a fair bit of information, but you wouldn’t really be that relaxed if you got to know that all of the information you put out there is being sensibly put together to make an elaborate profile. It comes to a point that if you upload photographs of a party night on Picasa, and leave an update on Twitter regarding what an awesome night it was at whichever venue, online profiling is smart enough to put two and two together and determine where you were, with whom, and what you were wearing. This can be further validated if your friends are tagged and have their own social network updates regarding the party.

As such, the online world could be quite a scary place because even though you may have activated all security setting’s on Facebook, your information is still being put together without your knowledge. Now this doesn’t only point a finger at social circles from Google’s 2009 Social Search but invariably traces back to Facebook too. How is it that my information can be accessed despite the fact that I have updated all security setting’s and assume I’m safe.

Safety and security in this age of social media

A little bit more on the security violation details leads us to believe that Facebook may have funded the Burson Marsteller campaign, wherein the company approached various bloggers and news media to publish the look into Google’s functioning of social search. Instead, the letters that Burson Marsteller sent to individual sources went public, and the next few days will see all parties involved covering tracks and spending more time on crisis management. So, while they save their skin, it brings us back to the creepy thought that my so called private information may actually be accessed by strangers and third parties that I have tried so hard to keep out.

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