Thursday, December 6, 2007

Final essay Storing Personal Data Online: What security issues do social networking users face?

The last few years has seen a boom in the area of online web communities, with sites like Myspace ( and Facebook ( being the standout favourites among the youth of today. “Facebook was born in February 2004 as an online alternative to Harvard University's paper-and-ink social directory” (Dye, 2007). Myspace was originally started as a platform for University students to communicate as well as artists of all persuasions from music to the arts. These sites are becoming extremely popular with Myspace registering over 116 million personal profiles online. Along with the obvious positives that the ability to share information gives us, come the risks associated with the storage of this personal data within the public domain. One of the most sensitive areas under discussion involves the disclosure of information about minors, which can then be accessed by sexual predators. Another situation Bloggers are finding themselves in is the posting of personal information which “…could come back to haunt indiscreet users in the future, warn scholars at Purdue University” (Wagner, 2006). “New Scientist Magazine has discovered that Pentagon's National security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks” (Marks, 2006). Others in the industry see Myspace as a social sellout with the site allowing corporations and businesses to market online to potential customers. These issues are becoming more evident as more members of the public are logging on and becoming social networkers.

Creating an online profile for social networking sites is a great way for individuals to communicate with friends and family and to stay in touch using the internet. People with common interests can share ideas and stories, recently social networking has taken off particularly by teenagers who are now using this medium of communication as much as, if not more than email. To create a social networking account are user is asked to supply a variety of personal details including their contact phone numbers, addresses, school details and personal pictures. Storing this type of information in the public domain is becoming an issue. Would parents allow their child to post this information about themselves on a shopping centre noticeboard or publish it in a newspaper? Regardless children are posting this information online without parental consent. In Facebook’s defence they do provide protection for their users by defaulting many data fields to be available to “only my friends”. Users would need to consciously change this setting to allow all personal information to be publicly available.
Unfortunately parents don’t always know what their children are doing online.
So all of this can some times go unnoticed.
Determining if someone is to be an online friend can be still be based on fictitious data. The anonymity of social networking allows users to create accounts using false information and there is no way this information can be verified. This is how predators are able to abuse the system. One example of this abuse resulted in the rape of a 14-year-old girl in Texas by an older man whom she had met on Myspace (MSNBC, 2006). In another case a sex offender in the United Kingdom used Facebook to groom a girl of 15 for sex. The offender won the girls trust online, and then arranged a meeting with the intention of having sex with the minor. As a result the man was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. (The Sun, 2007)

In an attempt to minimise these types of incidents authorities have started to take action.
Following an investigation by New York's attorney general into the social-networking site Facebook, both parties have drawn up a new model for online interaction.
Under the terms of the agreement Facebook will:
• “Disclose the newly implemented safety procedures on its website as specified by the agreement. Ensure that all other public statements made by Facebook about safety are consistent with the specified language.
• Accept complaints about nudity or pornography, harassment or unwelcome contact confidentially via hyperlinks placed throughout Facebook’s website as well as via an independent email to
• Respond to and begin addressing complaints about nudity or pornography, harassment or unwelcome contact within 24 hours.
• Report to the complainant the steps it has taken to address the complaint within 72 hours where the complaint has been submitted via an independent email to
• Allow Facebook’s complaint review process to be examined by an Independent Safety and Security Examiner (ISSE), a third party approved by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, to report on Facebook’s compliance with the agreement.
• Provide a prominent and easily accessible hyperlink to allow a Facebook user or their parent/guardian to give feedback to the Independent Safety and Security Examiner (ISSE) about Facebook’s performance in responding to complaints.
• Submit to the Office reports prepared by the Independent Safety and Security Examiner (ISSE) evaluating Facebook’s performance in responding to complaints. The Examiner will report bi-annually and may recommend additional safety measures concerning complaint handling, as appropriate. DOC”
(Cuomo, 2007)

In a press release from the attorney general’s office, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal co-chairs the national social networking taskforce and believes that while the New York settlement is a step forward companies like Facebook need to do more. The task force is expected to urge:
• “Requiring age and identity verification for users 18 and older, and parental permission for users younger than 18.
• Implementing filtering technology to screen out sexually explicit, racist, violent or other mature images and significantly increasing the number of staff reviewing such images.
• Prohibiting sexually explicit and other inappropriate word and phrase searches.
• Hiding minors' profiles from adults.
• Limiting minors' search options.
• Removing inappropriate advertising targeting minors.”
(Blumenthal, 2007)

Like many other moral issues government protection can only go so far responsibility for children’s safety also rests within the home. Parents need to be vigilante and aware of what their children are doing online Dr Michael Carr-Gregg an adolescent Psychologist and the author of “Real Wired Child” (Penguin 2007) identified seven rules for all families when it comes to social networking sites.

1. “Make sure that computers are in public places in the home and not in the child's bedroom.
2. Download a free internet filter and keylogger software.
3. When your kids are online, do a little ``shoulder surfing'' from time to time.
4. Check their social networking profile regularly.
5. Never meet in person the people you have met online.
6. Don't post anything that would embarrass you later.
7. Think twice before posting a photo or info you would not want your parents, teachers, future boss or landlord to see.”
(Carr-Gregg, 2007)

Another danger comes not from sexual predators but from the users themselves. Where older students get into trouble with online communities is not understanding that the information they post may stick around, becoming a paperless but permanent record of their character. (Wagner, 2006) A great injustice in the eyes of some are the old or unflattering photographs that make it into Google Image search. It is difficult if not impossible to get such things removed-or to chase down a trail of negative or false information once it’s been able to fester on the web. (Vise, 2005) It may be considered harmless fun posting questionable photos or stories of oneself in a blog, but to a future employer doing a simple background check it can be viewed as less than desirable behavior in a future employee. Users need to practice self-censorship when it comes to posting personal information online.
With the amount of personal information being stored online The National Security Agency (NSA) is pursuing its plans to tap the web since phone logs have limited scope (Anderson, 2007). Not only are potential employers gathering information from blogs, the NSA are filtering the majority of internet data in the US using Filters which search for key terms. These filters allow the NSA to data mine huge amounts of traffic both domestic and international. With the majority of web servers based in the United States users need to be aware said that the bulk of worldwide internet traffic has at some time gone through an NSA filter.
Businesses are seeing an opportunity to make money off these social networking sites. Myspace allows companies to develop personal profiles to create an online presence where their biggest customers spend their free time. Wade Roush an editor for Technology Review has concerns that.
“MySpace is undermining the "social" in social networking. The general expectation when one joins a social network is that its other members are actual people. On MySpace, this isn't always so. The movie Jackass: Number Two has a profile on the site, as do Pepsi, NASCAR, and Veronica Mars, the CW network's teen detective. The company interprets the idea of a "profile" so broadly that real people end up on the same footing as products, movies, promotional campaigns, and fictional characters-not exactly the conditions for a new flowering of authentic personal expression.
(Roush, 2006)
This is an example of how businesses are making their way into every corner of the internet wherever they can see a potential customer or a chance to push their brand. Businesses make money on the web, many companies are solely web based for example and, any information these companies can gather about potential customers strengthens their position in the market. Social networkers should be wary of this when providing personal information online.
In conclusion like any new medium, care needs to be exercised when it comes to personal security. While governments mandate safeguards aimed at protecting minors while online, the final responsibility lies with the parent. Parents need to be vigilant and educate their children in the dangers that exist when communicating with anonymous strangers online. Just as parents educate their children not to accept lifts with strangers. They need to work with their children to ensure their children understand that some information should be kept private. Parents need also to understand what their children are accessing on the World Wide Web and whom they are communicating with. Older Users also need to exercise care when posting personal information online. Users need to be aware that all information stored online can be accessed either legally or illegally by various institutions and individuals. Web users need to understand that businesses on the web are still businesses and that they are trying to make money at every point, they see every web browser as a potential customer.

Anderson, N (2007, June, 13). T&T willing to spy for NSA, MPAA, and RIAA. ARS Technica, Retrieved December 4, 2007, from
Blumenthal, R (2007). Facebook to take stronger steps to protect kids. Retrieved December 4, 2007, from Office of the Attorney General Web site:
Carr-Gregg, M Caught in the net. (2007, December, 3). Herald Sun, p. Education.
Cuomo, A (2007). Retrieved December 4, 2007, from Office of the Attorney General Web site:
Dye, J (2007).Meet Generation C: Creatively Connecting Through Content. EContent. 30, 39.
Marks, P (2006).Keep out of MySpace . New Scientist. 190, 30.
Roush, W (2006).Fakesters. Technology Review. 109, 72.
Vise, D (2005). The Google Story. New York, NY: Random House.
Wagner, C (2006).Blabbing on your Blog. The Futurist. 40, 7.
(2006, June, 20). MSNBC. Retrieved December 5, 2007, from Girl, 14, sues MySpace over alleged sex assault Web site:
(2007).Facebook perv caged for three years, The Sun. 12.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Photoshop Blogg

Ok so here are my final Photoshop edited images. Some are stolen from the net and others are ones I have taken..
This first Photo is once again of me and some really good mates Ive used a stamp effect on us and I have put us ontop of the brisbane skyline at night both of these are my photos taken on a 10mp camera.

This photo is one taken of a friend of mine at a pool party late at night and I have superimposed him onto a beach landscape just to give it a much more summery feel. The caption which reads "DONT ASK" is in reference to how funny a night it was. The becah landscape was stolen from the net and the photo of geoff was taken on an old 3mp camera of mine.

This next photo is a represenation of HI TECH it may not be much now but in the 1960's these tanks were the very latest in technology. This photo was taken in Vietnam earlier in the year when I went to vietnam I have used a poster filter on the tank to make it stand out I have also added the word saigon which was what Ho chi min city was called during the war.
This photo was taken with a 10mp Camera.

This photo is of a news camera but from an angle no one usually looks at with a weird sky background this is trying to represent how the news is not always the full truth but its sometimes lies like how the sky isnt purple. To create this phot I changed the Hue of the whole picture

This Games photo is a fun little creation of mine showing several console types all connected I did this by stealing images online and superimposing them on to the image of the PSONE console game.

I really like this Success image its an photo I took at the Alley surf spot on the coast and I have written the words Success on the wave using the pattern of the rocks in the foreground. This photo was taken on a 8MP camera

The last photo is a representation of celebrity and how people who are chased by the paparazzi must see their lives. Its shows the paparazzi but they are very blurred and none of them stand out more than the other. This photo was stolen off the net and a Dark strokes filter was used.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Essay Ideas

web pro news

who owns the internet


The news and observer


Google domains

Google docs


The internet in 10 years

I would love to say that the intenet is going to integrate its way into every aspect of our lives but I feel that with the ever increasing digitalisation of our world we are very soon goin to see a rejection of everything that is digital. Im not only talking about those people you see when you take a day trip down to Byron Bay who sit around in hemp shirts and dont wear shoes. Im talking about normal everyday people who are sick of needing someone to fix every new electronic gadget in their house why do we need a $30 electric toothbrush when a nromal one costs $2.

I think people will always have a computer in their homes but their has to come a point where people do not want to be dependant on a machine for everything. They want to go to the store to pick the milk they want, they dont want the fridge to order the same milk every week we naturally as humans want to feel that we are in control and I really think that in 10 years we will still have the interet and yes you can order everything you nwant on the internet without ever leaving your chair. The fact of the matter is we are humans and humans need human interaction.

I think that devices such as the digital cmaera will still be around but as we get older in terms of our lives on the internt we wont be posting as much as we do know because we will know the hazards of putting all your personal information online for the world to see. We are still in the honeymoon period when it comes to personal homepages like Myspace and facebook we are going to hit a rough patch and that is when we are goint o see a big change in how we share pictures over the internt and how we talk about they things we do online. I think our generation whatever we are called I dont know are ruined when it comes to the internet we are the ones who have made it a wonderful place to share information when in actual fact its not and the secret to a good life should surely be less dependance on computers. I perosnally know I spend to much time on the internet just doing crap all, but we do. I think our kids will have a much better chance in getting the balance right.

Sounding a bit doom and gloom I know but I really think the internet is not the be all and end all of life its merely a tool to express whats happeing in the real world. I actually just finished watching existenz this morning and that movie with the bland real world and the colourful computer world is a perfect example of how some people are taking the digital age way too far. The thought that it was more important to pay the game than to live life and be in your own body is not a healthy way to life.

Thursdays Lecture

Todays lecture we looked at the idea of CyberUtopia and how technology is our saving grace in this world. We looked at the 2 new comings of a media age.
Firstly the telephone where people could all of asuddent transmit what they thought to people all over the world (eventually)but only to one person at a time. Then the second age where the Internet allowed people to transmit information to millions of people in every country around the world. This allowed for a transparent world to be born. where information can be transmitted where ever a cable has been laid. However the further we march down the digital road the more dependant we are on it and were we to loose phonelines or worse electricity where would we be in our digital world then. This emergence of the digital world has to stop somewhere or we will find oursleves stranded when the inevitable does happen.

Wednesdays Tute Questions

Q.Given the conventional wisdom that traditional media are still the dominant form for getting "news" out to the world, do you think the internet will effect the audience for those old media?

A. I thin
k the Internet has been a great tool in allowing news to be published by not only the old traditional media but also new types as well. However I do not thin that unofficial blogs and peoples personal homepages or anything of that ameture nature is goin to tae over the fact fact that we still get our news from the large news coprporations. Yes new media outlets do offer fresh opinions but they are not going to wipe out ther media giants of this world.

Check out the local IndyMedia website. What kind of news is there, and do you think a website like that has a place in your life?

A. A website like this with independant community based political news is a great way for people to get their voices heard on an international level without needing the approval of commercial new outlets. In my own life I could see it coming in handy If i was trying to find out information on an event which was clearly not covered by the mainstream media but apart from that it doesnt bemnefit me personally. But I can see how it is a great resource for people in developing countries or countries where the news is government run.

Do you think the internet is (was?) an effective tool for politicians to reach out to their intended audience?

A. I think it was a great marketing ploy by both parties in the recent federal election to use the internet to make certain anouncments and proposals. Particularly those aimed at the youth of Australia. I think it was a step that logically had to be made the youth of Australia are becoming the online generation. For the politicians to not embrace this new media would be a perfect example of the old fashioned establishment not keeping up with the times. In thining about it, it was a stepo that had to happen every single company aims to sell themsleves online so why wouldnt political parties do the same. Long over due I say.

What do you think about blogs as a way for people to get information out? What about their role as political commentary?

A. As i said in the question above I cannot see blogs taking over the way we get our news. Yes RSS feeds off other peoples blogs in homepages like pageflakes are a great way to read news but they have one major flaw. The news you are reading is still just spouted out of somones mouth without any backing. That is why the major news networks hold such a stronghold because they check their facts and backup everything they say that is the reason they are a news corporation. Blogs are a great tool for uploading and announcing personal information but when it xomes to the news I think people will stick with what they know. When its looked at in a commentary sense they are a good thing but in a reliable news sense then yes.