Facebook force-feeding Messenger, going mobile web instead

So Facebook wants me to install yet another permissions-greedy app just to read messages? That is so frustrating! So no, don’t think so guys. I’m putting Facebook back into the (slightly) safer sandbox that is the mobile web;
facebook forces users from app to web
So thanks for reminding me why I love my mobile browser that much Facebook!

Hey! Widgets! Leave our privacy alone!

After having NoScript disable the Facebook Like widget a couple of weeks ago, I felt really bad for Mark Zuckerberg who must have been feeling singled out by my actions. If only to make all widgets equal and as I don’t use them anyway, I’ve now told NoScript (only available in Firefox) to also block the Google+ and Twitter widgets with the following ABE User ruleset (under NoScript Advanced options):
# also stop google+ widget
Site plus.google.com
Accept from plus.google.com

# and twitter
Site platform.twitter.com
Accept from twitter.com

Remove Facebook like buttons with NoScript

If you don’t like Facebook’s omnipresent Like widgets (there were already plenty of reasons why not to like them and last week’s cookie-debacle only added to that conclusion) and if you already use NoScript so you don’t want to install another plugin (like Ghostery, which reports any tracking activity and allows you to block it), you can put this in NoScript’s ABE user ruleset (NoScript Options -> advanced -> ABE);
# Allow Facebook scripts and objects to be included only
# from Facebook pages
Site .facebook.com .fbcdn.net .facebook.net
Accept from .facebook.com .fbcdn.net .facebook.net

This tells NoScript to allow Facebook scripts (you know, to visit facebook.com), but to stop them from being included in other sites. I guess with NoScript’s surrogate scripts one might even be able to replace Facebook’s Like-widget with one that just shows the old-fashioned (and harmless)  share-button. Now wouldn’t that be fun?

Out with Google Plus, in with Yammer

I’m not a social network expert by any measure, but it seems to become clear that although the initial enthusiasm among the geek-crowd was big,  Google Plus isn’t cutting it in the real world. I don’t have a Plus-tab open in my browser any more and when I do go Plus, there isn’t a lot going on in my circles which I want to participate in.
Compare that to the way Yammer took off at the company I work for; in less than a months time 800+ colleagues (out of approx. 1500 employees) joined and we’re getting to know new colleagues, discussing more or less work-related topics (1500+ messages) in the open or in multiple interest-specific groups (15 at this moment). Good times!
I don’t know how Yammer is doing in other companies in Belgium (and Europe by extension), but to me is seems that Yammer succeeds where Google Plus is failing; bringing together a group of people (in a more or less “private” environment) that share a common context but who didn’t share a social network before and allowing them to engage and to create engagement.
Google Plus might be neat from a technology & privacy point of view, but it essentially was (and still is, I guess) a “me too” exercise, trying to occupy a market that has already very successfully been taken by Facebook & Twitter. And yes, Yammer does have an API.

Google Security says “Thanks Frank”

A few weeks ago I received the following in a mail from Google;

As a small token of appreciation for helping keep Google’s users safe and secure, we’d like to credit you on our website.

And indeed, yesterday my name was added to the “Honorable Mention” paragraph on Google’s Security Hall of Fame.
I don’t consider myself a security expert by any measure (although I am very interested in web app security) and I discovered that vulnerability in the iGoogle Facebook gadget merely by chance, but it’s nice to see my name (and a link to this blog) up there! Thanks for thanking me Google!

Binnenkort Blog Action Day over Water

‘t Is maar om te zeggen dat ik hier op 15 oktober (Blog Action Day) iets stichtelijks over water zal schrijven. Misschien over flessenwater en de Facebook-pagina “100.000 leden voor kraantjeswater in restaurants”?
Ge moet daar overigens maar al eens naar gaan kijken, naar die pagina, dan ziet ge hoe ge als Communications Dikkedeur van pakweg een flessenwater-bedrijf niet met sociale media moet omgaan. Van de weeromstuit gaat ge misschien “kraantjeswater-fan” worden, ook al zit dat niet in uw genen, al dat Facebook-fan-gedoe.
De rest is voor de 15de en voor “Water no get enemy” van Fela Kuti, hier door zoon Femi en een handvol nobele onbekenden;

StuBru, Facebook and why we need (something like) Diaspora

Earlier this month Facebook deleted the official Studio Brussel page, cutting the Flemish youngster radio station off from their 114.000 fans. StuBru didn’t receive information on why the page was deleted, just a vague statement that they breached the Facebook Terms. It took a week to get the page restored, but nonetheless web-editor Stijn Van Kerkhove raved (translated from Dutch);

We were surprised when our website got deleted, but we’re even more pleasantly surprised to be back.

“When our website got deleted”, seriously Stijn? A Facebook-page isn’t a website and it isn’t yours either, ultimately. When on Facebook you are (and I am) at the mercy of a private company that has absolute power over anything you do on its premises. Facebook decides what pages look like, Facebook decides what you can and cannot post and Facebook reserves the right to expel you from their community for whatever reason they do or don’t come up with.
Given the increasing importance of social networks in our lives and economy (and the never-ending privacy-problems with Facebook), I do believe that we’d be better of with a open, decentralized system which does not have a sole (commercial) owner with absolute power. That’s why it’s a good thing that Diaspora exists, even if the alpha code they released a couple of days ago is not up to expectations. That’s why status.net (and identi.ca) are great. And that’s why OStatus, an open standard for following friends and sharing statuses on distributed social networks which is already implemented in status.net and which will probably go into Diaspora as well, is incredibly important.
And on a vaguely related note; that Facebook-movie by Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher looks great, doesn’t it:

THE SOCIAL NETWORK - Official Trailer [2010] (HD)