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March 11, 2009

Foolishness, Facebook, and Reputation [8:15 am]

It’s not just kids who don’t quite grasp the consequences of the revealed life: A New York Police Officer Who Put Too Much on MySpace (pdf)

[I]n the looking glass of his computer screen, he becomes a man of fierce, profane views on how to keep law and order. A few weeks ago, he posted a description of his mood on a MySpace account. “Devious,” he wrote.

The next day, a man accused of carrying a loaded gun would go on trial in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn — and in large part, the case rested on the credibility of Vaughan Ettienne, bodybuilder, Internet user and arresting officer.

What seemed like a simple gun possession case became an undeclared war over reality: Was Officer Ettienne a diligent cop who found a gun after chasing an ex-convict weaving through traffic on a stolen motorcycle? Or was his story a “devious” facade in keeping with the ruthless character he revealed on social network Web sites?

“You have your Internet persona, and you have what you actually do on the street,” Officer Ettienne said on Tuesday. “What you say on the Internet is all bravado talk, like what you say in a locker room.”

Except that trash talk in locker rooms almost never winds up preserved on a digital server somewhere, available for subpoena. [...]

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You Knew It [8:10 am]

But it’s still a shock to see it in print. This used to be what folks said about US environmental policy, too. Fight Over Internet Filtering Has Test Run in Europe (pdf)

As European lawmakers debate how to keep access to the Internet free and equal — so-called network neutrality — they are inundated, not unsurprisingly, by lobbyists.

But the corporate envoys roaming the halls of Brussels trying to make their case, more often than not, do not represent the Continent’s myriad telecommunications and Internet companies, but rather those from the United States. Europe has become the world’s technology regulator. [emphasis added] So the AT&Ts and Verizons are pitted against the Googles and Yahoos to shape European law in the hopes that American regulators will follow suit.

It may not be precisely true, but it does show you what treating problems the same way that ostriches do will get you.

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Scylla and Charybdis [8:03 am]

Tough navigation for anyone — is this going to make the cut? Google to Offer Ads Based on Interests (pdf)

Google will begin showing ads on Wednesday to people based on their previous online activities in a form of advertising known as behavioral targeting, which has been embraced by most of its competitors but has drawn criticism from privacy advocates and some members of Congress.

Perhaps to forestall objections to its approach, Google said it planned to offer new ways for users to protect their privacy. Most notably, Google will be the first major company to give users the ability to see and edit the information that it has compiled about their interests for the purposes of behavioral targeting. Like rivals such as Yahoo, it also will give users the choice to opt out from what it calls “interest-based advertising.”

Privacy advocates praised Google’s decision to give users access to their profiles.

A counter-example: Advertisers Get a Trove of Clues in Smartphones (pdf)

The millions of people who use their cellphones daily to play games, download applications and browse the Web may not realize that they have an unseen companion: advertisers that can track their interests, their habits and even their location.

[...] Eswar Priyadarshan, the chief technology officer of Quattro Wireless, which places advertising for clients like Sony on mobile sites, says he typically has 20 pieces of information about a customer who has visited a site or played with an application in his network. “The basic idea is, you go through all these channels, and you get as much data as possible,” he said.

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