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13 ways to be paranoid on Facebook November 4, 2010

Posted by Karoliina Leikomaa in Shadow Karma.
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Last week the Finnish newspaper Taloussanomat published an article on their website about 13 things not to do on Facebook. Having read the article, I decided to check the Huffington Post’s article about 13 things you shouldn’t tell your friends on Facebook.

The story itself was a good example what talking about social media shoud NOT be like. Making people paranoid is never a good thing because when people are afraid and paranoid, they start to panic. Social media is not the bad guy, no matter how many mistakes Facebook has done over the course of years. Because I don’t like people being intimidated into believing that Facebook or social media in general is a horrible place and thinking all your friends are robbers if not worse, I decided to list the 13 things mentioned in the article and state my opinion about them.

1. Your Birth Date And Place
According to Huffington post, this is as bad as giving you bank information to a complete stranger.

I partly agree. It is easy to forge a Finnish social security number if you know the exact birth date, year, birth place and gender. With this information, there is less than 100 possibilities for the social security number (the formula for calculating it can be found from Wikipedia, by the way) but you still have to guess the last few digits. However, knowing one’s birth day but not the year makes it much more difficult. Having you birthday without the year and your high school (or “lukio”) with the year you graduated makes figuring the year pretty easy, if you’re Finnish.

The problem becomes real if someone decides to forge your social security number and for example opens a bank account (which in some banks is possible online, most likely without ever showing your id to anyone) or decides to get an insurance in your name. It’s possible to do a lot of things online if you have a bank account. And there is a catch: opening a bank account or buying an insurance etc. pretending to be someone else is not illegal in Finland even though it’s clearly an identity theft. It becomes illegal only when the person pretending to be someone else does something illegal.

So, having your date of birth on Facebook is ok as long as you don’t have the year or anything which makes it easy to guess your year of birth. You might want to Google your name, too, and make sure you don’t have the information about your year of birth on any other service either.

2. Your Mother’s Maiden Name
According to Huffington Post credit card companies, insurance companies and other services use the information about your mother’s maiden name to make the service more secure.

I disagree with this. Credit card companies, insurance companies and other companies dealing with personal stuff in Finland use bank access codes to make sure the service is secure. In general the bank access codes are rather safe as they have nothing to do with the number of the bank account. Depending on the bank, the login and password are usually rather ok, but what makes it safe is that all of the banks (to my knowledge) use also passwords which change. The customer is sent a list of passwords which to use and without those passwords it’s not possible to do anything using the bank account.

However, mother’s maiden name is often asked in services like Facebook or Hotmail. In those cases it’s best to give the name in some different form. I often use some other last name, not my mother’s maiden name, for those questions. If possible, I use the open question in which I can make up the question in case I forget my password. But that question should never be something obvious and having an answer with numbers and letters and perhaps even no proper words is always more secure.

3. Your Home Address
Huffington Post mentiones cases in which burglars have robbed a house when the occupants have said on social media they are away

I agree, more or less. Having your home address on Facebook or on any other social media service is useless. Most of the people don’t care about your home address. Unless you have a business with an office you want people to walk in to, you have no reason to have your home address on any social media service.

4. Your Long Trips Away From Home
Don’t post status updates that mention when you will be away from home.

Agree, mostly. There’s no need to say you’re going to be in a foreign country for two weeks. Then again, if you’re for example taking part in a conference, you might want to let your friends know you’re there so they can come and meet you, if they’re near.

5. Your Short Trips Away From Home
Although new features like Facebook Places encourage you to check in during outings and broadcast your location (be it at a restaurant, park, or store), you might think twice even before sharing information about shorter departures from your home.

Disagree, partly. There’s no need to be paranoid about things you’re telling on Facebook. However, no one is insterested in your every move so posting where you are at a given moment might not be wise.

6. Your Inappropriate Photos
By now, nearly everyone knows that racy, illicit, or otherwise incriminating photos posted on Facebook can cost you a job (or worse). But even deleted photos could come back to haunt you.

Agree, more or less. No one is interested in those photos and they are not funny. You wouldn’t want your photos on a billboard in the centre of you home town, would you? Then don’t post them on Facebook or any other online service.

7. Confessionals
Flubbing on your tax returns? Can’t stand your boss? Pulled a ‘dine and dash?’ Don’t tell Facebook.

Undecided. A good guideline is: if you’d talk about it when walking down the street or in a cafeteria, you can put it on you Facebook status, too.

8. Your Phone Number
Watch where you post your phone number. Include it in your profile and, depending on your privacy settings, even your most distant Facebook “friends” (think exes, elementary school contacts, friends-of-friends) might be able to access it and give you a ring. Sharing it with Facebook Pages can also get you in trouble.

Disagree, more or less. The key in the above text is “depending on your privacy settings”. If you don’t want to share your phone number, don’t share it on your profile. Plain and simple. The problem might be if people use Facebook application for iPhone, which syncs all the contacts from the phone to Facebook (but not vice versa). The application creates a phone book on Facebook and adds names to phone numbers depending on the numbers people have on their profiles.

Sharing your phone number on Facebook Pages is more tricky thing. There are numerous applications, which search for phone numbers from Pages such as “I’ve lost all my phone numbers”. This way the numbers might (and most likely will) end up in the wrong hands and if nothing else, the amount of spam callers and people selling stuff on the phone will suddently become huge. The problem is using one’s phone number for something illegal, too.

My advice is to check you have your privacy settings so that you’re happy with it (for example sharing your phone number only with some friends and not all of them) and not giving your phone number on any Facebook Page. If someone has lost your number, you can send it to them with a private message or give it on Facebook chat instead!

9. Your Vacation Count-down
“There may be a better way to say ‘Rob me, please’ than posting something along the lines of: ‘Count-down to Maui! Two days and Ritz Carlton, here we come!’

Agree, partly. It is true telling when you’ll be away from home can be considered a bad thing and the count-down gives even more time for any robber to plan what to do. However, count-down to the beginning of a holiday is not that bad. Some people might travel during a holiday but lots of people don’t. Telling you’re on holiday might mean you’re home practically all the time.

10. Your Child’s Name
Identity thieves also target children. “Don’t use a child’s name in photo tags or captions,” writes Consumer Reports. “If someone else does, delete it by clicking on Remove Tag. If your child isn’t on Facebook and someone includes his or her name in a caption, ask that person to remove the name.”

Agreed, more or less. Posting photos of your children online in general can be considered a risk. There are many people who get turned on by children (which in my opinion is disgusting) and you might not want to let people take advantage of that. If in addition you let people know where you live and in which park your children play, you might put them into a risk. Not all people are evil and most people don’t have pedophiles as friends but if the updates and pictures are public, you have no idea who is watching your pictures.

However, if you have set your privacy settings correctly, there’s nothing wrong with posting your child’s picture online and tagging your children but you want to make sure you know who you share the picture with.

11. Your ‘Risky’ Behavior
There have been … reports that insurance companies may adjust users’ premiums based what they post to Facebook.

Disagree. This might be true in the US but in Finland that is not the case. For example my insurance, which covers accidents, covers things such as diving or bungee jumping. The insurance system is a bit different in Finland than in the US. Most insurance companies don’t have the time or the motivation the go through people’s updates on Facebook and check if they do something “risky”. In Finland most of the insurance companies aren’t even using social media actively yet.

12. The Layout Of Your Home
Never post photos that reveal the layout of an apartment or home and the valuables therein.

Mostly disagree. There’s no point posting photos of the layout of your apartment or the valuables you have at home in public. It’s still good to remember that most people are not evil and are not interested in the layout of your apartment or what kind of stuff you have. Your friends might’ve even visited your apartment in which case they’ve seen the antique table you have, the layout of your apartment and they even know where you live! Facebook doesn’t make them robbers!

13. Your Profile On Public Search
Do you want your Facebook profile–even bare-bones information like your gender, name, and profile picture–appearing in a Google search? If not, you should should block your profile from appearing in search engine results. Consumer Reports advises that doing so will “help prevent strangers from accessing your page.”

Disagree. Being afraid of social media and being found online is common but there is no basis for it. For me, Google is part of my calling card. It is essential for me to be found on social media services with Google. Being found is not bad, it’s not the end of the world but in many cases it might actually help with several things. Online communication often means being found. That’s the risk you take when using social media services.

Conclusions
Facebook is not a dangerous place and especially not because of your friends. Bigger problems with Facebook are the security flaws they’ve had too many recently. There is a problem with for example companies not being allowed to hold competitions on their Facebook Page unless the competition is in it’s own application and the company promises to buy adverts from Facebook. Most of the adverts on Facebook are scams and that is why most of the adverts are ignored. No company in their right mind would put money on such advertisements.

The problem when talking about social media is – like I’ve said before – trying to scare people instead of telling about the the good things, which have happened because of Facebook. People find jobs and new friends on Facebook, they share information and often learn tons of new things! People keep in touch with distant relatives and friends from all around the world without it being extremely expensive and without even thinking about it. It’s good to be a little careful with your private information but there is no reason to panic.

Social media can be a useful tool for various things. I wish newspapers and bloggers would stop scaring people with it and start thinking about things in a realistic way with both good and bad things!

Keeping up with the change August 26, 2010

Posted by Karoliina Leikomaa in Shadow Karma.
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Some time ago I attended a theme day of leadership organized by the Adult Education Centre of Tampere. The content of the four presentations varied a lot and two of them didn’t even mention leadership but some of them were quite interesting anyway. Jari Metsämuuronen from the Finnish Board of Education talked about the future and how he thinks things might go, which was extremely interesting and reminded me of the discussions we often used to have in Tampere University of Applied Sciences and Education Technology Centre eEDU.

One of the points Metsämuuronen made was that the world has changed a lot on the past 20 years and because the speed of change seems to be excelerating all the time, it’s really impossible to see in advance what kind of changes the future will bring. However he presented some scenarios, which might be possible. He didn’t say any of the scenarios would rule out any of the other ones and most of his speech was quite difficult to grasp, even though it was extremely interesting.

When talking about how the world has changes, one has to look some 20 years into the past. In 1990 our family didn’t have a computer, we weren’t using emails or anything like that. The first computer to our household (with Windows 3.1) was bought around 1994. My father had a mobile phone and he had had one ever since the 80’s because he has a sail boat and it’s important to have a way to contact people if you’re having trouble. The mobile phone was the size of a suitcase (or a briefcase, perhaps) and it was quite difficult to use, if I recall correctly. At least it wasn’t very portable so it wasn’t that “mobile”. My mother got her first mobile phone around 1995 and I got my first mobile phone in 1999. At that time the text messages were all written in CAPITAL LETTERS, which nowadays would be considered yelling.

So, about 11 years ago I started using mobile phones and haven’t stopped since. The first mobile phone I had was such that one could call and send (and receive, of couse) text messages but there were no colours or anything else on the screen. I think it wasn’t until 2005 when I bought my first mobile phone with colours but even that phone couldn’t access the Internet and I thought I wouldn’t need it anyway. The first phone with a camera in it I bought was around 2007 and I don’t think I ever used the pictures I took for anything else than perhaps a background image on the phone. The picture quality was bad and I had no way of moving the pictures from the phone to my computer.

Now my phone has a full qwerty-keyboad, proper internet access and a relatively good camera. I use my phone for several things in addition to calling and texting. A few days ago I had to take my phone to be repaired and since then I’ve used my old phone, previous to the latest one. In just a few days I’ve learned to hate the old keyboard and I never use the internet connection because it’s too difficult and too slow. I started using my new phone in February so the way I use a mobile phone has changed in about six months.

What this leaves us with is: the world is changing and keeping up with the change can be breath-taking. Unfortunately for some and fortunately for others the change is here and the only way to cope in this world is to keep up with the change.

Why entrepreneurship? June 5, 2010

Posted by Karoliina Leikomaa in Shadow Karma.
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Ramine Darabiha wrote a great guest blog on ReadWrite Start with the topic Never Mind the Valley: Here’s Finland. The blog post was about how Finland is becoming the Silicon Valley of Europe, mentioning several great starups, such as Wreckamovie, which I’m always happy to give coverage. Even though the post was focusing on the technology startups, I started thinking I haven’t written anything about why I decided to set up KaroKaro and what do I wish to accomplish with it. As the official date of establishment for KaroKaro is next Monday, June 7th 2010, I think it’s time to write a little about the company itself.

Finland isn’t the most supportive country for entrepreneurs. You can get money from the government but not too much and if you manage to get any money of your own you are denied the “start money” as the call it. This country seems to hate people who might get rich and might do well in business. However, they love people who already are rich and do well as they pay a lot of taxes. The Finnish mentality is traditionally against succeeding or having more than others. “Who is happy should hide the happiness” goes the old saying. People are way too jealous and way too scared to let others know if they’re doing well. People in Finland are mostly modest, which means most Finnish people wouldn’t be good entrepreneurs, without proper education on how to express themselves. This is why great startups can come out of nowhere and surprise people – the Finnish people just don’t make noise when they’ve got a great idea. To top if all up, all the business teaching in this country seems to aim to one goal: if you’ve got an idea, keep it to yourself and make sure the thing (whatever it is) is completely ready until you publish it. Luckily people are learning this is not the way to do business related to the Internet and have learned the value of beta releases, too.

The idea for setting up a company came last year when I was talking with some friends and co-workers about wanting to do more stuff related to the development of eLearning and less Moodle administration. Of course, at this level it was all fictional. I didn’t think I’d really set up a company and thought I would be willing to work for a small company but I didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur. As the year ended and I realized I didn’t have any more work from the university of applied sciences, I thought: heck, why now? I had realized I actually knew quite a lot about this and that and started thinking myself more in the lines of an entrepreneur than an employee. Maybe it was there all the time, I just needed to find it.

I got onto the entrepreneur course on January. Out of 44 people 16 were selected and I was one of the lucky ones. The group was great and the best thing about the whole course was the discussions with the group. The course itself was quite lame, teaching old ways to do business (with “you must know your competitors and stay away from them” instead of “you must work together with other companies in the industry”). The good thing about having such a poor quality teaching was I learned a lot about how I don’t want to conduct my business and realized ways I want to conduct my business. In the end of April, the course was over and I graduated (if that’s even the right word for that). The people evaluating me in the end said they had no choise but the let me pass as I was so into the company and was so excited. I already knew what I wanted and was ready to work for it. A thing which is still true.

Before applying all the things from the government (which helps starting entrepreneurs by providing some 600 euros per months for “living expenses”, if you’re lucky), I had to pay a visit to Ensimetri – the place for new companies to get help on all the important things. They had to write a statement saying I’m entitled to get the money from the government. Unfortunately the person at Ensimetri wasn’t too great and it took him two weeks to get the statement done (it should’ve been more like two hours). At that time I had hurt my ankle and couldn’t walk much for nearly two months. When I finally managed to do all the stuff needed, the decision itself took one day. After that I was ready to register my company and so I did. I decided it might be easier for me if the date of establishment was on Monday, especially with all the stuff I had to take care.

So, now I’ve got a company, which will start on Monday and I’m more excited as ever! What I wish to gain from a company of my own, then? First of all, I wish to do interesting stuff with inspiring and new and different things and people. I wish to feel I’m actually doing something good, making an effort on promoting the use of social media and eLearning in general. I wish to learn more about the field and expand to other fields, too. I wish to get to know great and interesting people and perhaps even be part of making their dreams come true. And of course, I wish to make a living.

If I had to say things I wouldn’t want to do, the list would be something like: I wouldn’t like to be part of projects doing things as they’ve always done before. I want to change the world and change business and at least be part of the change, which is happening all the time. I wish companies would understand what “community business management” means to me and how I think that’s the only way to do business. I wouldn’t want to be working in a project, which meant I couldn’t do it in collaboration with other companies. I wouldn’t want to do boring things, either, but I know I will have to do those every now and then, too.

I think leaving this as it is now is a good idea. I will come back to this text after a year or so and see what I feel about it then.

About Failbook..um..Facebook May 11, 2010

Posted by Karoliina Leikomaa in Shadow Karma.
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I’m sure most of you know how people have sang the theme from Loveboat with the lyrics “Fail boat…”. It seems to be Failboat is now history and we’ve got ourselves a new and improved fail: Failbook..um.. I mean Facebook.

When talking about Facebook and marketing, I’m the first one to say it can be a good place. Not to mention keeping in touch with people. But I’m also ready to point out it’s not perfect, far from it, and it hasn’t been. Unfortunately with the recent changes they’ve done on the site, the quality has gone down. It’s actually getting worse than Myspace and that’s quite an achievement in my book. And I’m not even going to start with the “Like” button, which makes communication on Facebook impossible (you can read a good blog post about it from here.

I wrote a couple of months ago about Facebook removing the Iron Sky page. They returned it in less than 24 hours without any explanations about why it was removed. Only couple of weeks ago Timo Vuorensola, the director of Iron Sky left Facebook and wrote a good blog post about why he left Facebook. Had only five minutes passed after the blog post and Facebook had created a community site for Timo Vuorensola. The problem was there was (and still isn’t) any way to control or get any use from people “liking” the community site.

After looking into the situation, the guys at Energia Productions noticed Facebook is creating “community pages” about nearly every article in Wikipedia. Sounds good, so far. Not only are they creating pages for “good” things (such as cars or dogs or cute puppies or whathaveyou) but they’re creating pages for things such as “Nazism and Faschism”, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and of course Child Sexual Abuse. (The liks might not work as they might remove the pages but they’ve been there for some three days already so…) Keep in mind, this is Facebook which tries to keep it’s nose away from ANY offensive material.

Now looking at the pages, you might wonder why anyone would “like” those things. Most people don’t. However, Facebook is trying to be clever. Before you could write your interests down the way you liked but now all the interests are “pages you like”, which means Facebook not only creates a new page for all the interests but tries to find the page “closest” to the thing you’ve put as your interest. In my case it said quite reasonable things but also “Graffiti”. I’ve got no idea why or where it came from.

The problem with all the pages and interests is that it might turn some meanings around. I’m pretty sure one of the people who (accoding to Facebook) “like” Child Sexual Abuse has had something like “against child sexual abuse” on their profile. As there is no page like that, Facebook has decided it must mean this.

Lately I’ve heard too many news about the security flaws on Facebook and the problems with the “Like” button and stuff. The future, as I see it, seems to be quite grim. No privacy (and I don’t even need much of it), no way of communicating and no use for companies to use Facebook. My company still has a Facebook page but I’m afraid if my company ever gets bigger it will not be the only page and after that it might be impossible to have any discussions on Facebook with my clients or the companies I work with on. Not to mention people having interests in stuff like “Pedophilia” or something similar and I really don’t think that’s ok.

So, Facebook, please: GET A GRIP and get your stuff together. There are many people willing to use Facebook for several things but not like this!

Ning Goes Buy-Buy April 16, 2010

Posted by Karoliina Leikomaa in Shadow Karma.
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Ning, the web-service providing a place to build a website, have discussion forum, chat amongst various other things announced they’re cutting off their free service, forcing all the users go Premium. The reason for this was, according the new COO, is business. The biggest income for the company is the money they get from the Premium users. Up until now the way the service has worked is that one could start using the service for free, just to see if Ning works for what one is doing. I’m guessing most of the users upgrade their service for the Premium one sooner or later as it’s possible to get rid of the adverts and have you own domain for it, etc. At the same time they’re cutting 70 people of their stuff, nearly 40% of their employees. The full story with the letter from the COO can be found from Tech Crunch: Ning’s Bubble Bursts; No More Free Networks, Cuts 40% Of Staff.

I’m not using Ning for anything at the moment but I have and I know people who do. There is a bit charity-based project between going on, using Ning for various things. The project has several sub-projects and aim to increase the know-how of eLearning and entrepreneurship. All in all, the project is extremely great. Most (if not all) of the people working on the project are volunteers so they do not get paid for it (at least not much). The project is – as everything is – on a budget and they chose Ning because it was free and provided what they needed. I haven’t heard what they’re going to do about it but I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved to another service, which can be difficult because I don’t think Ning is going to make exporting the data easy in any way.

I’m sure there are several small charity and other projects, which use the free version. Even if the Premium users are the best source of income for the company, there is still no point in removing the free version. I wouldn’t pay for a web service just to see whether it’s good for whatever I’d need it for or not. I’d like to try it out first and then decide if it’s the service I need or not. Unfortunately that’s not something the “old school businessmen” think is good.

I believe for a web business to succeed, it must listen to the people who make it what it is – the users. Lots of companies have understood this and think it’s worth it to have a free service. It might be lacking some of the features the paid version has but it’s a working service anyway. It might have adverts (bringing money for the service) but it’s still working. If (and it seems when) Ning decides to remove the free version, they’re shooting themselves in their own foot. There are several opportunities Ning will be missing and it might not even be impossible for the whole service to be closed after a while because there just aren’t enough people willing (or able) to pay for it.