Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmx DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Fun with paranoia: ways in which data give you away - a collection


This morning I read Tom Morris' post on a new (to me) feature in Quora which shares with other users which questions you've been reading. Being a social tool there's an argument to be made that Quora's behaving quite normally in doing this. Some people have apparently been in uproar about this and have quit Quora - which as Tom points out is a bit of an overreaction given that you can just switch off this setting. I checked to see what setting I had on mine and found it was already off (presumably by default as I'd not known anything about it until I saw Tom's post).

But Tom's clear point is that without knowing about this setting someone could actually be giving away information about themselves that they might not want to. He gives some good examples of situations where that really might not be what someone would want.

4 August 2012

I retweeted this and cc'd Ben Goldacre who's previously written about Spotify which has been keen to share your playlists and songs you've been listening to (Ben wrote his post in January 2012 and the ease with which someone can find and amend options may have changed since then). A few commenters on his post didn't see that this was a big deal and weren't "embarrassed" by their taste in music, but I think you could conceive of situations where someone might not want to have their listenings shared. People might just feel a bit icky that it was happening without their having fully understood what it was doing (you can argue that it's their fault for not reading the sign up instructions of course but I'd rather software undershared by default than overshared).

25 January 2012

I've also been interested in other ways that data, or software settings might give information away and have written three blogposts on different aspects of this.

26 July 2012 
This is about two separate things: (1) redaction of information within documents and in the document's "wrapper" (eg information about who has edited it, and how long they spent on it) and (2) mobile phone keyclicks that could give away  what number you're dialling.

22 July 2012
Twitter and Facebook (and other platforms) allow other people to find your accounts via the email address that you used to sign up with them. You can definitely switch this off in Twitter, not sure about Facebook but worth being aware of this.

1 June 2012
I wrote this after searching a volunteering site. I wanted to share on Twitter a volunteering option I'd found that was of no interest to me, but likely of interest to quite a lot of people that follow me. However the link I was about to share had additional information attached to it. It didn't contain just the web address for the job description but also included my postcode, because I'd used that to search for information near to me. Had I blithely copied and pasted that link without checking what it contained I'd have given away my street address and (I believe) which part of the street I live on.


Edit: 14 August - I've just spotted an option in LinkedIn which jobhunters might want to be aware of, "Activity broadcasts":

By selecting this option, your activity updates will be shared in your activity feed.

    Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies

    Note: You may want to turn this option off if you're looking for a job and don't want your present employer to see that you're updating your profile.

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