In today’s Quick Hits, we warn about a Twilight-focused Facebook scam, offer two op-eds on Internet privacy, and discuss Google Street View.
According to some anonymous reports coming out of China, Facebook, the world’s largest social networking website, may join with Baidu, China’s largest search engine, on the creation of a new Chinese website. Breaking into the Chinese market is an important goal for numerous American web companies, but the country’s poor track record on human rights issues and censorship has made it difficult.
The popular Twilight franchise of books and movies has become fodder for Internet criminals on Facebook. According to Mashable, a new “likejacking” scam is sweeping across Facebook using the upcoming Twilight movie as bait. Mashable warns “if you’ve been tagged in a Facebook friend’s photo album or seen a link promoting a Twilight: Breaking Dawn game, be careful. It is likely a scam designed to spread on Facebook and grab your personal data.”
Google, which has long faced criticism in Germany over its Street View program, has decided to shut it down. According to Time’s Techland blog, Goolge “isn’t taking any of the old Street View pictures down, but they’re not adding or updating any either.” Google only launched Street View in Germany last summer, but it was immediately met with skepticism by German privacy regulators. Google has also had a hard time implementing Street View in other European countries, where privacy is treated as a valuable commodity.
In an op-ed for TechCrunch, Habib Kairouz, managing partner of Rho Ventures, writes that “consumers will willingly render personal information under the right circumstances,” but that “many online companies today have extended their practices way beyond consumers’ tolerance levels.” In other words, Kairouz is saying that consumers are not necessarily worried about privacy so much as they are about controlling access to their information.
In an op-ed for Slate, Farhad Manjoo argues that excessive regulation of data privacy may lead to a stifling of innovation among Internet companies. Manjoo uses the FTC’s historic privacy settlement with Google over Google Buzz as an example, writing that, while he agrees with the FTC’s decision to take action, “there’s a good chance that privacy regulators—spurred by a public that doesn’t really know what it wants when it comes to online privacy—may go too far, blocking Google from collecting and analyzing information about its users.” Essentially, Manjoo argues that the good things companies do with our private data outweighs the bad things. It’s not an argument that we agree with, but it’s worth reading anyway.