Quick Hits: Groupon Explains “Always On” Location Tracking

In today’s Quick Hits, we talk about Groupon’s privacy policies, why one German official has a problem with Facebook, and a political candidate’s Facebook faux-pas.

Groupon Explains Location Privacy Policies

In response to Congressional inquiries about the company’s recently privacy policy changes, Groupon has issued a statement clarifying its stance on location tracking. Kashmir Hill at Forbes writes that Groupon “wants to start collecting location information from phones — even when the Groupon app is not on — in order to tell people about deals in their vicinity.” According to Groupon, this can only happen with a customer’s consent, but Congressmen Ed Markey and Joe Barton still warned the company not to violate user privacy.

German Privacy Watchdog Orders State Institutions to Shut Down Facebook Pages and “Like” Buttons

Claiming a violation of German and European Union data privacy laws, Thilo Weichert, Data Protection Commissioner for Schleswig-Holstein, “ordered state institutions to shut down [Facebook] fan pages…and remove the [Facebook] ‘Like’ button from their websites.” Facebook disputes Weicher’s allegations that the company tracks and stores user data for two years, but did admit that it accesses technical information about the user, such as an IP address. Weichert’s order demonstrates how Germany and the United States treat the subject of privacy.

Facebook Records Which Profiles You Visit the Most

Facebook collects a wide range of data on its users, but one of the more interesting things Facebook records is which profiles you visit the most. Zack Whittaker at ZDNet explains how this works, writing “Facebook uses a server-side script, loaded when you use the site, called first_degree.php. This acts as a ranking algorithm, likely to be based on those who you interact with, the profiles you visit, who you chat and communicate with and those who you have recently become acquainted with.  The higher the negative number, the more likely the person attached to it will display in Facebook’s autocomplete search — at the top of the window.”

Canadian Politician Apologizes for Facebook Jokes

A Canadian politician recently apologized for several off-color jokes on his Facebook profile, saying “If I could do it again, I probably wouldn’t have posted it.” The jokes, which were made prior to his decision to run for office, tried to shrug off the Facebook posts saying they represented his “taste in humor,” but acknowledged that they may have offended some. The candidate’s efforts to distance himself from his Facebook profile represent a new reality for politicians seeking election in the digital age.

Facebook Issues Security Guide for Teachers, Students, and Parents

In an effort to address concerns over security, privacy, and bullying, Facebook has published a free, 20-page guide titled “A Guide to Facebook Security.” PCWorld writes that “the pamphlet is available on the site and was co-written by security experts Linda McCarthy and Keith Watson, and editor and teacher Denise Weldon-Siviy.”

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