Monday, 15 November 2010

Skype Me ... Or Not

5 Social Media Complications Nobody Tells You
By Pandora Poikilos

Yesterday, was like any other day. I had writing deadlines to meet. I had all my usual online tools opened up and ready to use. There was my GMail, my Facebook page, Skype and the blog. I received a Skype message from a friend but realised it just wasn't his manner of speaking. When I prodded, and I can be annoying, the person seemed to almost get offended and said - "Bye". Then, I got a notice in my email saying - I had changed my password and registered email address for Skype. Alarm bells! When I tried to access my account, all it said was that the email had been changed and try as I could, I couldn't change the registered email back to mine because obviously, I no longer have the password.

Next step. I removed my current email address, which thankfully I could do, logged out and created a new Skype Id. I wrote to the friend whose account was being hacked into and told him about what was going on and then I got around to changing my password information of accounts I use regularly and here is where things got so frustrating, I wonder why social media sites tell you to be careful about your privacy and passwords and then make it so difficult to change yours when you need to. As I cursed and swore, it also got me thinking about the other things these people don't tell you. Yes, yes, they all have their terms and conditions which function very well up to the point that something does go wrong and then everybody wonders what is covered and what is not. Don't get me wrong, I love social media. For the very simple fact, if you love having Coco Pops for dinner, you'll probably be able to find 10 other people who do just that and be talk about it but sometimes, during instances like these, I just wish things were a little simpler and a little more explained.

Can Social Media Sites Be Hacked Into?
Yes, yes and yes. If you Google the phrase "how to hack Skype", there are at least more than 10 results that will give you steps on how to hack into someone else's account and what passwords to use. They even tell you when to do it. So, if you can Google it, and they are writing the codes for it, do you really think Skype doesn't know? And if Google can be hacked into, even though it was just once (and like they are going to say anything different), then I don't think any site stands a chance from being completely safe. But before you get all excited and rush to delete those social media accounts, take a deep breath and read the rest. Think of it as a house. Chances are you're going to get robbed. Equipping yourself with the appropriate burglar alarm, windows and doors is your responsibility and not the neighbourhood watchman. What you keep in the house is also your decision. The neighbourhood watchman covers at least 20 houses in your neighbourhood and can't stay put at your house all the time.

In the same way, you must have an anti-virus (no matter how personal the laptop or desktop is) and keep your information to the bare necessary. Credit card details, bank details, personal photos - there are other places than social media sites and computers to keep them on. You can store them on a CD, print them out, write out the details that can be written. Passwords must be habitually changed at least every 6 months and must contain a combination of alphabets and numbers known only to you. Clean up your browser at least once a week or even daily. Internet browsers such as Mozilla help you store information and this is great until someone else gets their hands on them. Yes, it's very inconvenient to do things the old fashioned way but you have a choice. Slow and with a little more effort or easy and put yourself in more risk of having your personal details used.


But I Deleted That Post
It's an ongoing trend that most people using social media sites think they are able to say anything they like in the name of free speech, delete it and move on as if nothing happened. Think again, it really isn't that simple. There are records of what is being said and no, they are not invading your privacy by collecting this information, it's already stated in their terms and conditions. Don't believe me? Check this out.

Facebook Says - For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it. When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).

So, think again the next time you want to say something and are not sure whether you'd like it to be permanent. It may be a virtual world we live in but that doesn't make it any less permanent and any more free to do whatever you wish with no consequences. Most countries have updated or are in the midst of updating their laws which allow action to be taken against those who misuse Internet applications.


It's Their Responsibility To Fix It
This is like saying your neighbourhood watchman will have to pay you for your television that got stolen while he was doing rounds in another part of the neighbourhood. For those using PayPal or other financial portals you would really like to believe that all is well and safe. Think again. Even banks get robbed, don't they? So, yes, information stored in these sites are also not all that secure and even more importantly come at your own risk. Nobody will take the fall for you when something has gone wrong with your account, even more so when money is involved. For instance, yesterday when my Skype account got hacked into and I was wondering why, I also wanted to know if others had experienced what I had. There were loads. People were commenting that their accounts had been hacked into, their credit card details extracted and used to make calls from Asia to the Middle East.

When I wrote to Skype informing them of what had happened, there were very quick in sending a response today. Here's a little bit of what they had to say - Unfortunately, Skype is unable to refund any money that may have been lost because of this incident. We urge you to check that your PC’s security systems are running properly and that they are up to date. In order to prohibit these incidents, Skype strongly advises you to regularly update your PC's security software (e.g. firewall, antivirus etc.) as it is possible that a Trojan/Key logger type of program could be installed on your computer which sends collected info from your computer to a third party who uses this information abusively.

Need I say more? Can they do it? Absolutely. The burden of proof and attempting to fix the situation may come from them but you use these sites at your own risks. You must remember that although you may have done it all by the book and find yourself caught in the middle of a situation where someone has used your credit card details or your email account in an abusive manner, it is not necessarily an immediate reflection on the site. Yes, they are prone to hackers but it also shows that for every right way there is to carry out a task, someone is out there coming up with a way to get around it.


How Much Is Too Much?
Facebook has very often been slammed with numerous privacy debates. The main point always being that they do not protect a user's privacy. I agree with this but only to a certain extent because when you look at the other side of the coin, it is the users who do not protect their own privacy. As I've mentioned in another post, people behave within social media sites as though they have been brought up in a house with no doors. They share everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. What they eat, what they wear, what bus they take to work, how their boyfriend sleeps, pictures of them in their bedroom - seriously? Think of it, in a bedroom that comes with an attached bathroom, even the bathroom has a door and doesn't just open into the bedroom. So, why would you so enthusiastically type in all these information on the WORLD WIDE web and then be so hot and bothered about who is going to see it?

The one bone, and it's a very big bone, that I have to pick with sites like Facebook would be their enforcement of abusive users. For instance, pages or profiles that promote porn, kiddie porn, defamatory or even insulting to any person's human rights can sometimes take forever to be taken down or not at all. They are either not vigilant or seem to think that everybody comes equipped with common sense and one day, people will be able to pluck common sense from their backyard trees and learn what not to do on social media sites. You must also remember that information you share on any site is money to someone, legally or otherwise. When you join Facebook, they have one more user to add to their portfolio. When you take part in an online survey, they have one more email address to sell to an advertiser. You can use free email or free social networking but everything comes with a price tag. It's just the way it is.


It's Not Cool To Be Privacy Conscious
Yes, well I figure it'll be way cooler when someone empties our bank account, picks up our children from their school or even sends emails with our details to make exorbitant purchases which we'll not know about until 5 years later. Thankfully, because Facebook came under such scrutiny for their privacy issues, or rather the lack of it, most other sites have geared up to be more conscious on what user information is shared and not shared. I'd like to think of it in this way - irrelevant of the car you drive, you should be able to choose your parking spot and when you do park, you don't just walk away from your car without locking it, do you?

In that same way, most sites allow you to choose what you want to show your friends, your colleagues and the rest of the world. Showing a little less or doing things a little differently, in a good way should not be an option that you should toy with. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of 'followers' and networking at the click of a button but the ramifications of what we do today, however virtual, are bound to come back to us sooner or later. Even if it means your grandchildren are going to Google your name and find that horribly indecent picture of you and an old 'friend' who is not their grandpa. What do you think?
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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom

SherbetBlossom

Blog-A-Licious

Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife

Blog-A-Licious

My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo

tbaoo

Blog-A-Licious

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Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun

Greatfun4kids

Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

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Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max


Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry

BlogNostics

My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
Awarded By Jo Frances

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded By Alejandro Guzman

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded by Kriti Mukherjee

My Awards - April 2011

My Awards - April 2011
Awarded By Roy Durham

My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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