MERIT Solutions Blog

MERIT Solutions has been serving the Chesapeake area since 1982, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Facebook’s Massive Data Leak

Facebook’s Massive Data Leak

Facebook is many people’s favorite—or at least most used—app and it does bring value to people by letting them keep tabs on friends and family, or grow their businesses. It has grown to be one of the largest, most successful software technology companies in the world. Unfortunately, with that type of exposure comes the responsibility of securing massive amounts of personal data. In this quest, they leave a lot to be decided. Today, we take a look at the situation Facebook is in as they are dealing with one of the largest data leaks in history.

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Making Sense of Facebook’s Privacy Settings

Making Sense of Facebook’s Privacy Settings

We’ve been talking about Facebook quite a bit on our blog, and for good reason - we’re all concerned with our privacy, and Facebook has been notoriously front-and-center when it comes to Internet privacy. In this post we will break down Facebook’s privacy settings to help you gain control over your personal identity while using the social network.

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Take Control Over Your Facebook Security Settings and 2FA

Take Control Over Your Facebook Security Settings and 2FA

Whether you love, hate, or are just indifferent about Facebook (no judgement here), it’s worth configuring and locking down your account to control what others can see about you.

Facebook is front and center when it comes to privacy-related issues worldwide, so in this blog we are going to discuss how you can take control of your personal information. This post will also serve as an excellent starting point for anyone who doesn’t understand 2-factor authentication.

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Should Big Tech Be Reined In?

Should Big Tech Be Reined In?

It’s not a secret (well, not anymore) that the big tech companies have influence. These companies, that include Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook, have been in the spotlight more and more as the argument of data privacy has gotten louder and louder. Public sentiment is starting to blow back on their business model--and since, Yahoo, once the predominant name in Internet-based services, was broken up and sold to Verizon for cents on the dollar after being at the center of the largest data breach in recorded history--there have been rumblings that there has to be something done to protect the public from major publicly-traded technology companies that use individual’s data in ways that some deem unethical.

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Social Media Can Help and Hurt Any Business

Social Media Can Help and Hurt Any Business

In many ways, social media is the defining characteristic of the information age. It has transformed the way people communicate, market their products and services, and it has brought a litany of issues into the public consciousness. On the other side of the coin, social media currently costs many business billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of social media, and how your business can put yourself in a net-positive position regarding the technology.

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Tip of the Week: Annoyed By Fake Friend Requests on Facebook? Here’s an Easy Fix

Tip of the Week: Annoyed By Fake Friend Requests on Facebook? Here’s an Easy Fix

Have you ever gotten Facebook requests from strange people who you don’t know? While it might be tempting to give them the benefit of the doubt--after all, maybe they know a friend of yours--it’s best to keep strangers off of your page when you can. In order to give your page, the flexibility to accept friend requests from people you may know, and protect it from strangers, you can implement a “follow” feature, and limit who can send you friend requests.

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Tip of the Week: How to Download Everything You’ve Posted to Facebook

Tip of the Week: How to Download Everything You’ve Posted to Facebook

If you’ve had your Facebook profile since the dawn of the social media age, chances are that it’s accumulated an immense amount of personal information. While you might have felt weird handing over all of this data to Facebook, the company has made it surprisingly easy to take it back; well, as much as you can, at least.

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Tip of the Week: 4 Ways to Get a Handle on Social Media in the Workplace

Tip of the Week: 4 Ways to Get a Handle on Social Media in the Workplace

Social media may be a great way to connect with other professionals and communicate with your friends, but it can be dangerous if you have poor posting habits. Before you share something, think twice about whether it contains any sensitive information that could be risky to yourself and your business.

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Open Letter to Twitter

by Randy Spangler

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, there was an article about how Twitter's COO, Ali Rowghani needs to come up with a way to make eight year old Twitter relevant and required. Today, their stock hit a new low.

Well, I have a few suggestions.

I have been on Twitter for a long time (since 2009), but I am much less active than I have been in the past. Why? Because Twitter requires a LOT of attention to stay up with the stories. Since Twitter is a veritable waterfall of information, if you look away, you miss out. Going back a few hours or days is an option, but like swimming upstream, it can be a fool's errand.

How could they fix this problem? I don't know, but it really is a problem. Facebook works differently in that your 'friend' posts something and then people who want to comment add their comments to that 'thread', and you can see each thread separately with all comments in chronological order. Very easy to follow. Facebook also has a little globe icon which lights up with a number to indicate how many threads that you have commented on have new comments. Plus, Facebook's posts are findable for months after posting.

Twitter just has a stream of comments. Yes, you can pick out some favorite folks you want to follow and put them in their own column, but it is still a disjointed stream. Where Twitter really differs is that if you type in a search term or a hashtag, like #DWTS, you can see everyone's comments about Dancing With The Stars. Kinda cool, but overwhelming in the amount of data coming in during a big event.

In order to make Twitter more relevant, they need to become more like Facebook, at least in the area of their user interface (UI).  There needs to be a better way to follow comments and threads. With the 140 character limit, retweeting (the act of rebroadcasting someone else's tweet, usually along with your own comment), not only is hard to follow, but becomes necessarily cryptic, requiring lots of brain cycles figuring out how to condense your comments to fit into the 140 limit.

Another big issue with Twitter is that they limit the number of people you can follow based upon the number of people that follow you. This was done so that someone couldn't create dummy accounts and just follow lots of people in order to increase those folk's follower count. In Twitter, your number of followers is a badge of pride and the coin of the realm. I have 1854 followers and I am capped out at following 2087 other accounts. Twitter does not reveal their specific formula for when your account tops out, but your follow count is roughly 10% more than your follower count.

This limitation is a problem for brands and celebrities more than for individuals. If someone new to Twitter wants to follow all of their favorite singers, actors and brands, they will soon run out of slots to do so. These famous accounts virtually never follow back (the courtesy of following someone who follows you). Part of the problem is that once you follow someone, their tweets add to your own waterfall of inbound tweets, quickly becoming unmanageable. If someone wants to join twitter and just read it like a magazine, they will need to rustle up a lot of their own followers to increase their follow count.

I like Twitter, especially in the middle of an event, like an election or a sporting event. You get information from people you have never heard of and it is very entertaining. Sometimes a meme will pop up, like #SongsFromHillary where you spoof a song title to make a joke ("Take it Sleazy"). It can trend like wildfire and die down just as quickly, but it can be fun to watch and to participate in, especially if someone retweets one of your comments.

Twitter's financial challenge is to create ads that subscribers will see but not get annoyed with. Facebook puts their on the right side of the screen, or sometimes does relevant posts on your wall. I can live with that. Twitter can put a sponsored tweet in-line, but it flows right by. They can also message you, but that is getting a bit personal and annoying.

If it was my decision, I would remove the follow cap by better policing of dummy accounts. People should be able to follow however many accounts they wish to follow. They also need to come up with a better UI. The old TweetDeck program was much better than the web app they currently have. I think the column metaphor needs to go. I know there are many other Twitter apps out there, but most folks will gravitate to Twitter's own program. It needs to be fixed.

Another option is that it may not be fixable. By virtue of their self-imposed 140 character restriction and the nature of the waterfall of data, perhaps Twitter is relegated to being a popular, but unprofitable, niche application. Is that so bad? For the users, no. But for the stockholders... yeah. Good luck Mr. Rowghani.
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