Direct Message Read Receipts: Another Desperate Mistake For Twitter?


Essential modernisation. A good way to demonstrate that you’re proactively ignoring someone. A stalker’s charter… These are some of the reactions to Twitter’s introduction, on 8th September 2016, of Read Receipts for Direct Messages. Although Tweeps can opt out, Twitter automatically opted users into the new system without warning, consent, or in many cases, even knowledge.

Continue reading Direct Message Read Receipts: Another Desperate Mistake For Twitter?

How To Find Twitter Users’ Previous Usernames

You Cannot Hide on Twitter

This comes in a line of posts which could be placed into the general category of: “Don’t think you can behave like an absolute plank on social media and then remove all trace of what you’ve done”. Social media is terrible at keeping secrets, and when it comes to username changes on Twitter, that couldn’t be more true. Even after Twitter accounts have been deleted and are long gone, it’s still often possible to track their username progressions, and establish an overview of what the users were up to. Continue reading How To Find Twitter Users’ Previous Usernames

Microsoft Privacy Update: What You REALLY Need To Know

Microsoft Privacy 2

With Microsoft updating its Services Agreement and Privacy Statement from 1st August 2015, the usual, weasel-worded emails have been dropping into our inboxes, expressing how much the business cares for our privacy and gives us… ahem… ‘control’. As I said in an article about Soundcloud, the only real concern data-mining businesses have about our privacy, is how much they can invade it, and then gloss over their gross invasions with soundbyte PR. But let’s not jump the gun. Here’s Microsoft’s soundbyte PR…

We remain committed to protecting your data, being clear about how we use it and putting you in control. For example, we do not use the contents of your email, chat, video calls, documents, photos or voicemail to target advertising to you.

Sounds great, doesn’t it. Of course, they have to protect everyone’s data within the bounds of the law, so it always makes me laugh the way these companies pitch data protection like it’s some sort of luxury commitment, offered out of the goodness of their hearts. And just because Microsoft doesn’t scan your private communication and content for the purpose of targeting ads, it doesn’t mean the organisation doesn’t scan. Indeed, it has to scan email – otherwise how on earth would it recognise spam? Continue reading Microsoft Privacy Update: What You REALLY Need To Know

Cookie Horrors: Extreme Data Mining and Online Spying

Extreme Data Mining and Online Spying

Do you block or regularly delete Web cookies?… Nice one! Unfortunately, however, not everyone wants to congratulate you. Indeed, it’s probably fair to say that the Internet as a whole hates your very guts. But don’t worry. The Internet has many sly solutions to your increasingly futile attempts to regain some privacy, and the more of us who block or delete cookies, the worse things are likely to get. Continue reading Cookie Horrors: Extreme Data Mining and Online Spying

Is Privacy-Protected Search Just A Gimmick?

Ixquick new

Privacy protection has become a big factor in the realm of smaller search engines. It’s one way in which an otherwise unremarkable site can compete with the most accomplished and spectacular in the world. If users fear serious privacy breaches enough, they’ll seek out a search engine which professes not to store any of their data, and in the wake of media stories about mass government surveillance, that’s exactly what’s been happening.

But is privacy protection a real commitment on the part of the search providers involved, or is it just a gimmick? If one of the search businesses currently trading on privacy were to grow to the size of Google, would it maintain its values, or would it quietly throw that privacy commitment out of the window and start mining data, just like everyone else?…

Continue reading Is Privacy-Protected Search Just A Gimmick?

Your Digital Fingerprint: What The Web Doesn’t Want You To Know


Have you noticed that the websites you use are getting more and more dependent on JavaScript routines that don’t appear to do anything other than make the whole experience that little bit more sluggish? Simple, fast and perfectly usable systems have morphed into more resource-hungry and generally more annoying environments. Do they do any more for users today than they did in the past? In most cases, no. So why are online businesses investing so much time and money in these extensive updates?

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How To Get Into The Big Brother House

Big Brother Poster 16 August 2010

People used to be pretty good at rejecting spyware. That godawful toolbar which downloaded itself onto your Pentium III PC back in 2001, disabled your search engine and turned your browser into a marketing portal?… Well, you had your security software in attack mode within five minutes, didn’t you?

Continue reading How To Get Into The Big Brother House