Tag Archives: Yelp

What Social Data Is Worth (And Why You Should Back It Up)

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Data backup worthWhat is the value of a tweet? How much does Yelp value a review? As a participant in the social media economy, how much value does your participation create for companies like Facebook and LinkedIn?

These questions came to mind recently as we had a deep discussion at Backupify about the value of data in the cloud. Sometimes people ask me why they should backup their cloud data. The answer that I give comes from asking thousands of Backupify customers why they do it – because the data is valuable, and it is always important to protect valuable assets.

Quantifying the value of data to a business is relatively easy. For customers who use our Backup for Google Apps or Backup for Salesforce products to protect their corporate data, it boils down to three basic concerns:

  1. How difficult it would be to recreate that data
  2. How much revenue would be lost if the data was lost
  3. How much productivity would be lost if important data could not be accessed

The value of social data (for both consumers and businesses) is a little bit harder to quantify. We decided to take a shot at it by building off some publicly available information to figure out what social data, which social media companies, and what social media actions are the most valuable. The results are in posted in the Backupify Social Data Value Infographic below.

We plotted the data in two different ways. The first is by average per-user value, which of course has Facebook as king of the hill. The second plot shows how many users a service would require to reach a $10 billion valuation. As you can see, most of the companies are unlikely to ever get that big.

So take a look, and let us know what you think. Are Yelp reviews really worth more than tweets? Who should we have put on the graph that didn’t make it? Which pieces of social media are over or under valued? Leave a comment, write a post, or just tweet @backupify with your thoughts.

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2 steps to disable Facebook Places (and the reasons why you need to)

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Yesterday afternoon, Facebook finally unveiled Places, the social network’s long-anticipated location-based feature set. At first blush, Facebook has given us the bridge between Gowalla, Foursquare, Yelp and Booyah we’ve been waiting for but — as is often the case with Facebook — there are some none-too-subtle privacy consequences. The ACLU of Northern California has a few critical warnings to pass along before you put Facebook Places into play.

Here are the critical Facebook Places privacy takeaways:

  • Once you start using Places, all your friends can check you into locations
    If you activate Places, your location will only be displayed to people on your friends list. Unfortunately, it will be displayed to all the people on your firends list; there are no granular controls. Moreover, once you join Places, all your friends can check you into a location — just like they tag you in photos right now. Shopping for that surprise birthday gift? Better hope your best friend doesn’t tag you at your spouse’s favorite store.
  • Your friends can check you into Places even if you don’t use it
    There is no “don’t let my friends check me into places” option. You can only deny a specific check-in, so the buddy that tags you in every photo he uploads can now annoy you twice as often by tagging you into Places repeatedly, too. If you agree to let friends check you into Places, it’s a blanket permission. You can’t trust your spouse and not trust your gabby friend. It’s all or nothing.
  • “Here Now” data goes to everybody
    “Here Now” is a function that displays which of your friends is (or has recently been) at a Place you just checked into.  If you have any Facebook privacy setting anywhere set to share with everyone, your “Here Now” data will be broadcast to your entire friends list, so expect to be accosted at your favorite coffee shop.
  • Facebook Places share location data with other apps
    The whole point of Facebook Places is to allow advertisers to hit you with location-aware advertising and communications. Unless you explicitly opt out of the functionality, expect coupon targeting from the moment you start checking into Places.

That’s the bad news. Here’s how to make Facebook Places as private as possible (quoted from the ACLU’s DotRights resource page):

Adjusting Check-In Visibility, Turning “Friend Check-Ins” and “Here Now” Off

  1. Go to your privacy settings page and select “customize settings.”
  2. Select the Places settings.
  3. Enable Places? (You may need to enable the product before you can change your settings.)
  4. Adjust your settings:
    a. To adjust who can see your check-ins, use the pulldown next to “who can see my location.”
    b. To disallow friend check-ins, uncheck the “Allow friends to check-in” box.
    c. To disable Here Now, uncheck the “Here Now” box
  5. If you want, disable Places.

Preventing Your Friends’ Apps From Receiving Your Places Info

  1. Go to your privacy settings page and select “edit my settings” under the “Applications and Websites” title.
  2. Select “edit settings” next to “info available through my friends.”
  3. Uncheck the Places check-in box.

Facebook has the critical mass to make Places the dominant player in useful location-based services. Unfortunately, they also have a history of sketchy privacy practices. Hope you’ve got a backup plan.

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Why you shouldn’t delete your Facebook data — even if you delete it

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Deactivating my Facebook Account
Image by mark_am_kramer via Flickr

The trendy new meme among the internet intelligentsia is that it’s time to delete your Facebook account. Granted, Facebook doesn’t make it easy to do so, but conventional wisdom now holds that it’s better to go through the ordeal of deletion than leave your data in Facebook’s nefarious hands.

Unfortunately, you can’t actually delete your Facebook account. You can deactivate your account, but Facebook has no intention or obligation to delete your user data for an additional two weeks. Facebook is a bit like Hotel California: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

And because you can’t delete your Facebook data, you shouldn’t delete your Facebook data. That is, you can quit Facebook, but don’t do so before you backup your Facebook data somewhere else.

Setting aside the fact that many industries are required by law to preserve their social media data, even on inert accounts, it’s simply a bad idea to leave Facebook as the only party that knows what Facebook knows about you. If Facebook suffers another Yelp exploit or mass identity theft, you’re going to want to know what data was compromised. The only way to know that is if you have a copy of your Facebook data. Deactivating an account stops Facebook from accruing more data about you, but it also stops you from assessing what data Facebook has on you.

Yes, we are one of the available services for backing up your Facebook data, and it is a bit self-serving to point this out. But if a security breach suddenly makes all your private Facebook messages public, or suddenly exposes all your private photos to the world, wouldn’t you want to know exactly what was being broadcast to the Internet at large?

Before you quit Facebook, be sure your Facebook data has a backup plan.

Facebook has just made your data more useful – provided they can protect it

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New, Improved *Semantic* Web!
Image by dullhunk via Flickr

There are a number of competing opinions about Facebook’s new Open Graph Protocol. On the one hand, it’s a giant step towards the Semantic Web that Tim Berners-Lee predicted and desired two decades ago. On the other hand, it’s another play for making all your data a proprietary asset.

The bottom line: Your Facebook profile data is going to drive a whole lot of Web functionality in the very near future, unless you opt-out of the Open Graph. For now, your Yelp, Pandora, and Docs.com experiences will be affected significantly by your Facebook profile data, and for those that don’t opt out, that dependence on Facebook to maintain a user experience will only grow more extreme. You can’t delete your Facebook account and expect Pandora or Yelp to behave the same way after your Facebook profile is gone. For many people that isn’t a problem, but — as is Facebook’s desire — your Facebook profile data just became a whole lot more valuable if you care at all about customizing your experience on many partner sites.

So what happens if your Facebook profile is lost? In theory, a huge chunk of your Pandora, Yelp, and Docs.com data is lost too. Now your Facebook security is also a big part of your Pandora, Yelp, and Docs.com security. While you can bet Facebook will get increasingly serious about interior data redundancy — after all, they can’t sell data they can’t keep — your Facebook data is now also infinitely more valuable to hackers and spammers. Just last week, word broke that hackers were selling 1.5 million stolen Facebook profiles.

Hope those 1.5 million people had a backup plan. And as Facebook extends their platform across the Web, we hope you’ve got one, too.