To “Like” Likester or not to “Like” Likester—that is the Question

  Likester—the self-proclaimed global popularity engine—is yet another utility designed to work with FaceBook. Google for reviews of  Likester, and you will find a lot of Likester enthusiasts, including repeated reports of Likester predicting winners of Ameican Idol.

There is a dark side of Likester.

The About_Likester page blithly says “When you sign up with Likester, you contribute your anonymous data (what you like), in exchange for seeing what everyone else likes. What you have “liked” is publicly available information anyway, so you’re not giving up any privacy to play here.” It’s one thing to have “likes” spread around one’s social network. The impact of compiling and reporting those “likes” is dramatically different—and can have consequences the end user never imagined.

I do not like apparent self-contradiction. While the About_Likester page says that “Once you join (without filling out any forms, I might add),”  the Privacy Policy says “At several places on our Website or in connection with our services, we collect certain information you voluntarily provide to us that may contain personally identifiable information. For example, our customer registration page requests your full name, email address, company, and postal address.”

I do not like tracking people who have not explicitly given their permission to a company that does not transparently explain how long they will keep a user’s location(s). Likester has yet to demonstrate a genuine business case for creating a “a heat map that shows you where the Likesters live” other than “We think this is really neat. We’re pretty geeky like that. ” The only people who would buy an attitude like that are under thirteen years old—the ones about whom their own privacy policy says “OtherPage’s services and the Website are not intended for and may not be used by children under the age of 13. ”

Sorry, Likester, but I think I’ll go read Shakespeare’s Hamlet instead.

 

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Toastmasters Core Value vs Today’s Security Issues

I belong to an organization of about 260,000 members called Toastmasters International. Its core values include “integrity, dedication to excellence, service to the member, and respect for the individual. ” That’s pretty heady and idealistic stuff when you export it to countries where there is current  protest that respect for all individuals is not an ongoing part of political dialog. And there are calls for democracy.

My last blog noted that there were there was only one (1) Toastmasters club in Tunisia, one (1) club in Egypt,  no clubs in Libya, 60 clubs in Bahrain and no clubs in Syria. There are no clubs in Yemen, Pakistan or Afghanistan. There are people in each and every one of those countries that not only do not wish Americans well but also who are highly motivated to damage or destroy a part of American lifestyle that has facilitated the growth of democracy: the very high tech which a younger and more sophisticated generation in those countries has been using to bring about revolution.  And there are those who would use that technology against all things American.

The death of Osama bin Laden this past Sunday did not play in Islamabad the way it played in New York, Shanksville or Washington. There are Internet-enabled people in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan—and even in the USA—who are also motivated to do damage to users they do not even know. That does mean you and me.

So I looked at the single largest website I visit regularly and wondered what can be done that will make my connection with FaceBook more secure.  So here it is:

Go to Account/Account Settings/Account Security.
Click in the Secure Browsing (https) box.
You will be prompted for a computer name.
Create a short name and save your settings. You are done.

So fellow Toastmasters and friends, remember that just because the televised reports you watch in American mainstream media say that people in the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen or other countries are looking for a more democratic way of life that does not necessarily mean democracy as you understand it…and does not necessarily mean all those folks are suddenly your friends.

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