I hope you all have coped with the constant media pre electoral spin season, dizzying wasn’t it!
Can we try to forgive & forget the unacceptable conduct of those so called ‘leaders’ whom we are supposed to respect enough to represent us nationally, when they behave worse than feral teens on a sugar high?
And as for the TV & written media please don’t get me started … do I really need a TV any more I wonder.
One particularly glaring point about the election result is that it brought to the fore the newly arrived insignificance of the mainstream TV and printed media platforms.
Our youth mostly don’t bother with those platforms so their views were formed without being tainted by politically biased media proprietors or influenced by a need to kowtow to murmurings of privatisation. Refreshing!
Anyway on to I.T topics and these are on Social Media.
Postings – Occasionally we see a post on our Facebook news feed which might contain a request that instead of using its ‘share’ link, we copy/paste the content instead and make a new post of it ourselves. I assume that would also apply to the memes that are all over Facebook every time some kind of vote is looming. For images you might have to make a copy of the image and create a post with it. Why do this and what happens if we do?
There appear to be 2 main outcomes, so depending on the nature of the post material some care is advised.
Algorithms – These days algorithms are being built into social media platforms as a norm so you might want to consider what making this choice will do for your own posts.
Algorithms are said to have the effect of influencing the readers behaviour when using the platform, i.e how we react to posts we see. More so now than before we are becoming aware that what we are given is probably only a part of the whole pool of available information on the topic. This is down to algorithms working on the website and the logic is that because we don’t have time to read everything we get what they think is most likely to be interesting.
Background – In effect what appears in our ‘news feeds’ has been shaped to suit any bias or preferences that the platform has detected in our responses previously, what we liked and to which posts we responded. In the main we can suspect this is done for marketing purposes, after all its a ‘free service’ and by them using us as a target audience for marketing purposes its a easy guess their motive. Though more darkly, political agendas are now identified as being heavily involved and are said to have been effective in recent controversial electoral outcomes such as Brexit & Trump.
For more on this you might like to read the section titled ‘Controversy surrounding the use of algorithms’ on this Wikipedia – Algorithms, and I refer in particular to the sub title ‘Legal Concerns’
So what is the main difference?
If you re-post using the ‘share’ link, your post is subject to the restrictions placed on its circulation by the person who posted it before you, so according to their privacy settings it may only reach friends that you share with them. So this could restrict the reach of the post, in some cases its not safe to share some types of personal or other information too widely.
Also if the post is identified as one which needs removal i.e. its faked news or a scam the removing it from all feeds down stream is easy the originating account post is removed. So control is better.
The downside of this is that because the posts incoming to you carry a restriction you may wish to use the Public Post option in which case it would be accessible to a much wider audience (though again I expect some algorithmic re-shaping might apply.
If you copy/paste a post into a new one of your own you can remodel it say by adding a picture or rewording or spell correcting it.
But if the post is one of the more ‘challenging’ types it is harder to stop and so scammers and news fakirs have a freer run and can use a search function in the platform to identify you personally as someone they might like to close up to, user beware! this would also happen to all others who used copy/paste, you in effect own it the same as any post you originate yourself.
Two Stage Log In
I am reading now that some experts say that the use of ‘strong’ passwords alone is being seen as falling off the back of the secure practices wagon. Do I hear a sigh or two? ……
Many of you will have already used a version of this with your online banking where your debit card is used with your PIN to generate a code to enter as a second stage to the log in process into your account.
So a second stage login authentication for other vital websites is now also a good idea.
This applies to social media, email and other more important online sites such as for editing your own website because if you were to lose access to it because a hacker had locked you out and was using it to rob your friends or misrepresent you how would you feel?
There are 2 particular methods and one involves a mobile signal connected smart phone or pad, the second method uses a small App that generates the code without a mobile signal.
Note:- because the use of texts by the first method means an insecure text is used to send you a login code, it is advised to use the second (App) method instead. Also I have experienced some annoying delays in receiving texts recently for some reason which have delayed my use of a website.
If you use the first method you would log into the website first using your user name & password, then on receipt of the text you enter the code in the text. Done.
This is offered by most sites you log into these days and is often set up by finding your way into the “Settings” – Security area of the websites menus. You add your mobile phone number and its done.
A text is sent each time you then log into that website.
The second (I think better) method is the App generated method.
This involves you downloading a free small Authenticator App such as Sophos Authenticator or Google or Microsoft Authenticator onto your smart phone or pad … there are several around just find them through the usual preferred App repository on your particular type of smartphone. Do make sure you allow the App to access your smartphones camera for it to work. note:- if you choose Google Authenticator App then see this article on ‘Authy’ which might be also useful.
Once you have installed the App on the smart device you go to the website you wish to set up 2 stage login on a another device such as a PC or laptop. Navigate to the Settings or Options page associated with 2 stage login, the App setup method bit.
This will offer you a QR code in the form of a strange looking square on your laptop/PC screen, use the Authenticator Apps ‘scan QR code’ option to run the camera through the App and point it at the laptop/PC screen to capture the QR code.
The App will record the QR code and add it to a list in the App. Done!
Save the settings on the website to use the 2 stage login in future and logout.
The next time you log into that website it will prompt you for a code which your smartphone will generate there and then, this code changes every minute or so so you will need to open the App each time you log in.
Should you lose access to your smartphone for any reason you can prevent a lockout by downloading and keeping safe some access codes the website will let you have, but grab these NOW so you have them already, just in case…..
Lastly there is a new and very secure method in development using ‘Security Keys’ but as this snippet from Facebook’s website shows its far from universally usable now so better left until its more developed.
“Security keys for Facebook logins currently only work with certain web browsers and mobile devices, so we’ll ask you to also register an additional login approval method, such as your mobile phone or Code Generator.To add a security key from your computer, you’ll need to be using the latest version of Chrome or Opera. At this time we don’t support security key logins for our mobile Facebook app, but if you have an NFC-capable Android device with the latest version of Chrome and Google Authenticator installed, you can use an NFC-capable key to log in from our mobile website.” source Facebook
That’s all for this edition, I hope you found it useful and not too heavy going.
As always do call me for a chat if you would like to reflect on IT matters, or life in general, ….
though not politics …. PLEASE, NO MORE POLITICS!! 🙂