Beware the ToS Rights Grab of Headliner

This is just a warning folks….

This came to my attention recently, wordpress.com has integrated a new 3rd Party Service into its post blogging panel (you know, the panel that comes up after you publish a post). I wondered about it – ostensibly it looks like a great service, who wouldn’t want to promote their posts for free across a range of services? Who ever reads the terms of services anyway? Well perhaps you should, when you read the ToS (Terms of Service), they basically are taking the right to do anything they please with your content, no holds barred

section 5c)

You grant to HEADLINER the unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual fully-paid and royalty-free right and license to host, use, copy, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, resell, sublicense, display, perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, modify, make derivative works from, retitle, reformat, translate, archive, store, cache or otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content to which you have contributed, for any purpose whatsoever, in any and all formats; on or through any and all media, software, formula or medium now known or hereafter known; and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed and to advertise, market and promote same.

Nice. So they have your content forever to do with as they wish. I’m a little disappointed in WordPress.com & their choice of partners. This post isn’t knocking them, wordpress.com provide a great service and I love that its free (funded by the ads they put on your posts but thats ok, they have to make money somehow). This post is to raise awareness of what you are getting into with headliner in the tiny tiny print. According to the complaints on the forums you won’t even get the wordpress stats from traffic flowing through the posts you promote there. I sharn’t be clicking the link but here it is in red in my screenshot so you know what not to click:

headliner screenshot

UPDATE: Headliner.fm have ameded their TOS and commented on this post – please see here. I still have my concerns and don’t feel ready to use the service, see my reply here.

Are you an accidental over-sharer?

OK, this is a little off topic for me but the subject came up at work so I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts about internet privacy and all the little ways you might be letting your details slip out without even realising it.

padlock

Why do you care?

“Well who cares if people see a bit of personal info, what are they going to do?”  Most people arn’t famous or interesting enough for a stalker so what harm does it do to share? Well I can think of one major reason why the average person should be cautious: MONEY!

If I was a burglar I’d totally be tuned into the net and it looks as though they really do. Think about it, if you know someone’s home will be empty for two weeks while they are away you’ve much less chance of getting busted, they can even case the joint with google street view. And how many of us photographers getting excited about our trip either tweet or blog about it while we’re away? The guys from pleaserobme.com knew that when they created their website to highlight this very issue. If you are really unlucky your insurance premiums might go up. The only saving grace for us photographers is – we don’t travel light… we take most of our expensive gear on holiday with us! Laptops, cameras etc.

Also, bank theft. How safe is your money? Think about it, what security questions does your bank put on your account and just how easy is it to google for those answers now? Mother’s maiden name? Birthday? Address? First pet? If you have telephone banking for example and forget your 27bazillion digit code (as everyone does) what questions do they ask to verify its you? You should try googling yourself to see if you can find the answers to your security questions.

How can you stop?

So where are we all allegedly sharing all this personal information? Any of these sites sound familiar?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Flickr/Twitpic/other image sites
  • Blogs
  • Your own website?

A lot has been written about facebook privacy settings over the recent months (years?) so I wont go into that too much, but if you are interested check out the scary trend of the default privacy settings in facebook to allow your private data to be public with this chart… http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/ And definitely make a point of checking your privacy settings regularly . Facebook has got to be the first point of call for any information harvester just for the sheer volume of personal information that people share. Email addresses, other sites you belong to (to further harvest for info), likes and dislikes (which make great guessing information for passwords), where you went to school, what you do for a job. Don’t get me wrong, I like facebook, I’ve reconnected with loads of old friends and can easily keep in touch with new ones however even though I have adjusted my security settings to a level I’m happy with, stories like these don’t inspire confidence that any data on there could be kept private for long: http://www.metro.co.uk/tech/824782-facebook-chat-taken-down-over-major-security-flaw

Edit: after writing this post I saw this article about the more recent failings of facebook privacy… http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/05/facebook-rogue lots of things I didn’t know in there – very scary stuff! And this… about facebook integrating across the web: http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/voices/2010/05/facebook-across-the-web-how-creepy.html

Twitter is such a simple premise. Everything is public (apart from DMs but it only takes one security hole to happen). Just remember that and be careful what you tweet. Its easy to get sucked into a conversation and believe that no one else is listening. Now that google searching twitter too you never know whos watching.

Flickr & twitpic / other image hosting sites are great but remember, if you take a snap of your front room what else is in the photo? In the background are you showing everyone what is in your house? Also, many images are now geo-tagged automagically by your camera or phone (this means all the exact location information is stored inside the picture and can be picked out by websites such as google maps). So if you use your iphone to photo everything then upload to the net immediately, you are essentially telling everyone where you are and what you are looking at right now! I think that feature can be turned off though.

Your own website/blog is completely in your control right? You have a contact form rather than an email address to keep you safe from the evil spammers? Well what about the whois information from your website domain? Whats that? Well, you can potentially get the name, address, phone number and email address of the owner just by looking up the whois on the website. Go on do it now…. http://www.whois.net/ lookup your domain and see what info it gives you.  With .co.uk sites you can almost always opt out of whois within your domian settings (meaning it displays the details of the company who you bought your web domain from).  For .coms only some web hosters provide that opt out service (and some charge for it), it’s worth transferring your domain to someone who’ll protect your privacy for you (I use nameguard.co.uk).

For an interesting article on location based privacy (and some scary questions for the future) check this link out: http://www.eff.org/wp/locational-privacy

“Locational privacy is also about knowing when other people know things about you, and being able to tell when they are making decisions based on those facts.”

The conclusion?

Batten down the hatches of your privacy leaks (that I mention above) and ask these three questions when writing anything online.

1. Will my mother read this?

2. Will my current or a future employer read this?

3. Am I writing because I have something to say or do I just have too much time on my hands? And blog after the fact to update the world of your doings…

Stay safe…

Suzy

Wintery Updates

Ok, I’m usually a tropical sort of person but its winter holiday time again and wordpress has added a new feature to make it snow on your blog so until January the 4th this will be my little winter corner!

If you want to make your blog snow here’s the link…

http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/a-little-snow-for-the-holidays/

Dont worry I’ll bring back the sun in January when I come back from Cayman with some more tropical underwater photos! :)

In other news my pc has died (booo!) so I wont be able to update my facebook photography page until its fixed (both facebook and Redbubble are now banned at work)!

A new feature on wordpress :)

OOooo how exciting! A new feature I’ve actually been wishing for on wordpress.com – post by email.

This post is my test run. You can find the details on how to do this with your wordpress.com here:

http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2009/05/12/post-by-email/

EDIT: I did have to come in and edit in wordpress after all because my default category is photography and this is not a photog post.