Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You Cant Logout in Facebook!

How would you feel if Facebook, or any other site for that matter, is able to monitor each and every action of yours over the web?
Well, look no further because that’s exactly what is happening! Australian Tech Expert Nik Cubrilovic has revealed in his blog post that when you log out of Facebook, they merely modify the cookie, and in some cases install new ones that send user information as you continue to surf the net, even after logging out.

When you log out, Facebook only de-authorizes your browser from the web application. A number of cookies, including your Facebook account number, are still sent to the main site. Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit.
So much for privacy.

In his experiments, Nik found that there are a number of cookies not being deleted, two cookies that are being given new expiry dates and three new cookies being sent. Also, after logging out, when he surfed another site, the primary cookies, that identify us as a user, are still there along with the account number. That is, even after logging out, when you visit a page with a Facebook like button, or share button, or any other widget, the account information is still being sent to Facebook.
The only solution is to delete ALL Facebook Cookies. (Here’s an article on how to delete cookies.)

Also, there are serious implications if you use Facebook from a public terminal. Even if you log out there, you are leaving behind your “trace”. The account ID remains there until someone deletes the cookies. And this account ID is used to identify your profile!

And as if that wasn’t enough, in their own help desk at this page, Facebook has specified that they use the cookies to help advertisers “measure and manage the effectiveness of ads and advertising campaigns”. In simpler words, Facebook provides the advertisers with the cookie information so as to help in their advertising strategies. Though in this Help Center topic, Facebook has stated that the user could opt out of the placement of cookies, nowhere on the page have they specified or provided instructions as how that can be done.

Over all that, the partnership between Nielsen and Facebook could turn out to be a bigger headache for users, once they get to know the truth. The company, best known for its television ratings system launched a product dubbed – Online Campaign Ratings (OCR). Their release note says – 

“The service will allow the company to combine data from its panels with data from third-party contributors, like Facebook, to more accurately measure how many people are viewing advertisements online.
For example, if a user logs on to Facebook (a Nielsen media partner) and then visits another Web site where an ad that Nielsen is tracking is shown, Nielsen will put a pixel in the ad that will prompt Facebook to send Nielsen the age and gender of the people who viewed the ad.”

Though Nielsen have later specified in the post that this data “will be viewed in the aggregate and not on an individual basis” and that  “third parties will not know what site the user came from or the identity of the advertiser”, it’s a little bit hard to digest that fact.

When criticized on this deal with Nielsen, Facebook authorities replied by saying – “there are ways users can opt out of having their activity incorporated with OCR”. Again, they haven’t specified how exactly a user can do that!

Though Mark Zuckerberg has always been going on the stand that its an open world now, I doubt compromising their privacy is what the users had in mind when they signed up on Facebook.

Understanding the need of the hour, a number of applications and plug-ins have surfaced in reaction to this “privacy policy” of Facebook:
  • Google Chrome has created an app called Facebook Disconnect which removes the Ticker Feed from your page when you use the Chrome Browser.
  • Firefox’s ShareMeNot add-on also prevents third party add-ons from tracking you until and unless you actually click on the “like” or “share” button.

Now the question remains – Will users turn a blind eye to this privacy issue and continue using Facebook, or will they stop trusting and using Facebook altogether? The latter seems almost impossible because Facebook has grown so much that it has now almost become a daily routine for many users, if not all. But least assured, Facebook has something to lookout for and rectify, if they plan to continue on in the future with the same impact on the web, and on people’s lives.

So the next time you surf the web without deleting the cookies, remember, someone’s watching!

How to Delete Cookies


1.       Go to the Control Bar at the top of your browser and click on “Tools”.
2.       Click on “Internet options”.
3.       Hit "delete", where it says "delete temporary files, history, cookies, saved passwords and web information
4.       Click “delete cookies”
5.      When it says “are you sure you want to delete all cookies in the Temporary Internet Files Folder?”, click “yes”.



1.      Go to the control bar at the top of your Firefox browser and click “Tools”.
2.      Click “options”
3.      Go to Privacy -> Show Cookies
4.      When a pop-up box named “cookies” appears, scroll down until you see a folder that  says “facebook.com”, click “remove cookie.
5.      (Alternatively, you can also click on “remove all cookies”).


  1. Go to the control bar at the top of your Chrome browser and click the little spanner icon in the top right hand side of your page.
  2. Click “options”.
  3. Chrome will take you to a settings page in your Chrome browser which lists a series of options down the left hand side of the page including “Basics”, “Personal Stuff” and “Under the Hood”.
  4. Click on “Under the Hood”.
  5. Click “clear browsing data”.
  6. A pop up menu will appear. Select “from the beginning of time” from a dropdown menu that says “Obliterate the following items from”.
  7. Select the box which says “delete cookies and other site plug-in data”
  8. Click “clear browsing data”.

Adapted from this article.
Image courtesy - infocarnivore.com 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Zuckerberg "Leaves a 'Mark' on Page"

With Google+ trying its best to keep up its place in the list of Social Networking sites, it has managed to live up to its expectations, in the beginning. And adding to the value of Google’s own answer to Facebook was its founder and Chief Executive – Larry Page.

In order to probably enhance the usage of Google+ and to make it seem more casual and friendly, the Google CEO regularly shared articles, posts and even his vacation photos with the 300,000 and more followers in his Google+ Circle.

But now it seems that the CEO himself has had enough of one of his products! His last post in G+ was about a month back on 15th August regarding a couple of quotes from Android partners and top brass from Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC and LG. Ever since, there has been no updates in his public profile. Its possible that he might still be active in his private circles, but why play the risk when a lot matters to Google on the success of Google+? And that might cause people ask the million dollar question – “Why do you want us to use something that you yourself stopped using?”

Good Question!!

As Paul McNamara quotes in his article:
          Google+ is not for everybody, of course; certainly not for every CEO.
But if that's the case with Page, why not just come out and acknowledge it instead of going through the motions of creating an account, participating in the early weeks, using the forum for public relations, and continuing to suggest that users follow him?

Meanwhile in another part of the world (probably not that many thousands of miles away from Page!), is another CEO who’s making the headlines again with a new added feature in his website – Facebook. Yes, am talking about Mark Zuckerberg and his new idea of a “Subscribe” button in FB. Kind of reminds me something that Twitter works on!

The new feature in Facebook allows a person to subscribe to the News Feeds of a person even if they are not Facebook friends. Similar to following someone in Twitter or adding someone to your Google+ Circle. But that’s not all. The place where Zuckerberg “leaves a Mark on Page”, is in the fact that he converted his 5+ Million Facebook fans into subscribers of his. And the number is rising at such a pace that each time I click refresh on his FB page, the number increases by about 10-20!

Now that’s what I call a trick out of the box. Neat!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

SEO – The First Step Towards A Healthy Social Media Presence

While focusing on Social Media Marketing a few people tend to forget how important SEO can be for your business’ website. Just as you need a strong foundation for your home before you start building it, similarly a successful social media campaign could really do with an optimum amount of SEO for your website. Don’t overdo it, and don’t keep it too minimal. Just the right amount of salt!

First try to understand how search engines index your website. Search engines find websites using softwares that follow links to crawl the Web. These are called Bots. To be found quickly by search engines, it helps to have inbound links to your website. More important, the links within your site should be working properly or the bot would not be able to reach the page pointed by the link, and hence will not be able to index it. That’s one point lost!
Regarding images in your website, they mean nothing to the bots. The only info a bot can gather from a picture is if anything is specified in the ‘alt’ attribute. Therefore, always make sure that you provide description about the image via the ‘alt’ attribute. This not only helps the bots ‘read’ your site better, but is also helpful in cases when the viewers of your site use a browser that doesn’t support images.

Meta Tags, also called as meta information, is a method you can use to provide information about a web page.
The most common meta tags provide a description and keywords about the website to the search engines. It tells the search engines what the content of your website is all about.
More details about the syntax of Meta Tags can be found here.

-        Make site navigation as easy as possible.
Structure your pages of the website clearly in a clean order and try to give a link back to your homepage from all the pages of your website

-        Provide a SiteMap
          The whole of your site should be contained as links in your sitemap. If there are hundreds of pages, you could separate the different pages under different sections or even divide the sitemap into different pages.

-        Don’t focus on fancy graphics and heavy use of images
          Since the visitors to your website will be keener on your content rather than how flashy it looks, don’t give undue importance to what fancy font you plan to use. Similarly, try using images only to the level of that needed. Overuse of images will increase the time it takes for your site to load, and that could cost you some serious number of visitors!
All said, make sure you don’t make the site look boring. Make it a pleasure for the eyes but at the same time, know the limits.

-        Provide ‘alt’ attributes to images
          As said before, make sure you provide correct ‘alt’ attribute text to the images in your site

-        Focus on content
          This is the most important fact that you should keep in mind. Content! That’s the reason why people visit your website and unless you provide them with quality content, you can’t expect them to revisit your site.

Links on your website form an integral part of how search engines index your site.
Inbound links are links to pages in your site from external websites. They are considered as a means of determining the value of your site, because the more the number of inbound links the more number of sites think that your site has content worth linking to. Also, an inbound link from a site that itself is highly valued is worth more than an inbound link from a low value site.

 As the name suggests, outbound links are links from your site to external websites. They provide credibility to your website and can also be of service for visitors, providing them additional information about the topic. However, optimize the use of outbound links because using too many outbound links can even lure your visitors away from your site, which is bad for business. Also, search engines penalize your ranking if you have too many outbound links. For a page with about 300 words, you could have a minimum of 2-3 and a maximum of about 10-12 outbound links.

Cross links are links within your site. It is good to have as many cross links in your site as possible, at the same time keeping in mind the ‘overdo’ factor. Effective cross linking helps keep visitors on your site longer, which in turn can seriously affect your SEO in a positive way.


These simple points, if catered to in a well enough manner can make Search Engine Optimization of your site a breeze and in return, have a big impact on your Social Media Presence.
Happy SEO’ing…