Tag Archives: data


How to permanently delete your Facebook account

Recent revelations about the way Facebook data has been used in the past, might make you think again about your happy, innocent use of the social media giant. The increasing understanding that we don’t quite get everything that happens to our personal data means that many are feeling increasingly uneasy about it.

At the very least: Don’t do quizzes on Facebook.

But if you want to get off Facebook, what do you do? Because it’s not exactly intuitive…

How to deactivate your Facebook account:

Doing it this way, means you can return to Facebook when you want, if you can’t cure your addiction to it.

So take the following steps:

  1. Click the downward arrow at the top right of any Facebook page
  2. Select “Settings”
  3. Click “Security” in the left column
  4. Choose “Deactivate your account”, then follow the steps to confirm

If you deactivate your account your profile won’t be visible to other people on Facebook and you’ll be hidden from Facebook search, but some information, such as messages you sent to friends, may still be visible to others.

You can reactivate your account at any time by logging in with your email and password. Your profile will be restored in its entirety.

How to permanently delete your account

If you really want to go, you can request to have your account permanently deleted. But once this has happened, it won’t be possible to reactivate your account or retrieve anything you’ve shared on your profile.

So before you take this step, you may want to download a copy of your information from Facebook:

  1. Click the downward arrow at the top right of any Facebook page
  2. Select “Settings”
  3. Click on the link at the bottom of the main menu that says “Download a copy of your Facebook data”.

Then you need to go to https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account, click on “Delete my account”, then follow the steps to confirm.

It can take up to 90 days for Facebook to delete all of the things you’ve posted, like your photos, status updates or other data stored in backup systems, but while this is happening, it is inaccessible to other people using the social network.

And remember that some of the things you do on Facebook aren’t stored in your personal account. A message to a friend, for example, will remain even after you delete your account, so you will need to contact the recipients of you want that removed too.


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Education Work

Why you shouldn’t do those Facebook quizzes – and how to disconnect from them

If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you may have see the online quiz that creates a ‘word cloud’ from all the words you use most regularly on the platform. It has gone viral – and its a classic example of why you shouldn’t hop on those ‘harmless’ quizzes that your friends seem to have so much time to do.

Time To Ask Yourself A Simple Question

So whether you’re asked ‘what is your signature pop song’, ‘what historical figure you are’ or ‘what literary figure you most resemble’, just ask yourself why the quiz-makers have bothered.

After all, it’s not up to them to decide how you pass your time. Those tacky adverts down the side aren’t going to pay their bills.

The UK-based VPN comparison site (yes, there are such things) Comparitech looked into the information the word cloud quiz ‘needed and discovered it asks for your name, birthdate, hometown, education details, all your Likes, photos, browser, language, your IP address and even your friends list if you link it with Facebook.

That’s quite a lot to ask when creating something from your public utterances.

Many quizzes and games ask for similar amounts of seemingly superfluous information. They may also ask you to authorize the connection to the social network, to make sure you share your results in the hope that the quiz goes viral. If you don’t allow the sharing, the chances are that the quiz doesn’t function.

It’s About Control

The big issue with all this is that once you’ve handed your data over, you can’t control what is done with it, even if you never use the quiz again.

These games are simply data harvesters and, buried deep in the privacy policy you ‘sign’ when you connect, is often the permission to continue to use your data even after you disconnect from whatever tempted you in the first place. And that often means sharing your data with third parties – clicking that permission button has already allowed that.

The only safe way to deal with such things is to never use them in the first place, but you can alter what the quiz/game app can access.

How To Get Rid Of Facebook Apps

To get rid of older apps you already authorized, simply click the lock icon on the top right corner of your Facebook page and go to “See More Settings.” You can see the “Logged in with Facebook” list under the Apps section — click “x” to remove any application that you don’t trust or recognize.

There’s an element of watching a sprinting horse as you close the stable door about that approach. Abstention is your best policy – because even if you don’t worry too much about your own privacy, by sharing the app and your data, you could be making your friends more vulnerable too.

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The people wrongly selling student data? The UK’s university admissions people

Only last week, President Obama’s student privacy pledge was in the news. But in the UK, some significant people weren’t listening….
Britain’s university admissions service, UCAS, has been found guilty by the UK information commissioner of breaking data protection rules by signing up teenage university applicants to targeted advertising campaigns for mobile phones, energy drinks, and other products, thought to be beloved of young types.
The ruling followed an investigation triggered by The Guardian newspaper which showed that UCAS Media, the service’s commercial arm, earned millions (of pounds sterling) by strongly ‘encouraging’ students to allow their data to be used in targeted campaigns by text an email for companies like Red Bull, Microsoft and Vodafone.
The UK’s data rules on electronic marketing were broken because of a complex opt-out procedure and by encouraging teenagers to stay signed up because the opt-out wording warned that unticking the boxes would mean they would miss out on information about careers, education and health.
The Information Commissioner ruled that this meant users “felt obliged to let Ucas use their information for commercial purposes, otherwise they’d potentially miss out on important information about their career or education”. And it’s that tactic which breached the UK’s data protection act.
Ucas will now update its registration form and privacy policy to reflect the ruling.
While the companies who advertised did no wrong and while the data rules were broken, rather than proven inadequate, it’s worth remembering the approach of Obama’s student privacy pledge and the principle it encapsulates. As Obama put it:
“We’re saying that data collected on students in the classroom should only be used for educational purposes – to teach our children, not to market to our children,” Obama said. “We want to prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes other than education.”
And if the organisation responsible for university entry can’t understand those principles then there’s something gone rather badly wrong.

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Education Work

Making sure you protect student data

Earlier this year, Google added it’s name to the list of companies in the US which have signed a student-data privacy pledge. The list of EdTech, and plain ‘Tech’ companies which have signed up to the pledge started to really grow after a pretty hefty nudge from President Obama.

The President, in his State of the Union Address, has also laid out proposals which would simply apply logic and common sense to those who may be in need, saying technology in education could be a powerful tool for learning, but shouldn’t be used for marketing.

“We’re saying that data collected on students in the classroom should only be used for educational purposes – to teach our children, not to market to our children,” Obama said. “We want to prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes other than education.”

Simple enough you might think, but the temptation to monetise the data for organisations and start-ups is always there in an industry sector not always awash with cash.

For the moment, the pledge is a voluntary way for companies to make their position on student data clear to the public, holding the signatories accountable for how they use the day and making their policies transparent. The pledge, and any forthcoming legislation, apply to the US, of course, but the approach is applicable across the EdTech glob.

The companies who have signed up pledge to commit to

– Not collect, maintain, use or share student personal information beyond that needed for authorized educational/school purposes, or as authorized by the parent/student.

– Not sell student personal information.

–  Not use or disclose student information collected through an educational/school service (whether personal information or otherwise) for behavioral targeting of advertisements to students.

– Not build a personal profile of a student other than for supporting authorized educational/school purposes or as authorized by the parent/student.

– Not make material changes to school service provider consumer privacy policies without first providing prominent notice to the account holder(s) (i.e., the educational institution/agency, or the parent/student when the information is collected directly from the student with student/parent consent) and allowing them choices before data is used in any manner inconsistent with terms they were initially provided; and not make material changes to other policies or practices governing the use of student personal information that are inconsistent with contractual requirements.

– Not knowingly retain student personal information beyond the time period required to support the authorized educational/school purposes, or as authorized by the parent/student.

– Collect, use, share, and retain student personal information only for purposes for which we were authorized by the educational institution/agency, teacher or the parent/student.

– Disclose clearly in contracts or privacy policies, including in a manner easy for parents to understand, what types of student personal information we collect, if any, and the purposes for which the information we maintain is used or shared with third parties.

– Support access to and correction of student personally identifiable information by the student or their authorized parent, either by assisting the educational institution in meeting its requirements or directly when the information is collected directly from the student with student/parent consent.

– Maintain a comprehensive security program that is reasonably designed to protect the security, privacy, confidentiality, and integrity of student personal information against risks – such as unauthorized access or use, or unintended or inappropriate disclosure – through the use of administrative, technological, and physical safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information.

– Require that our vendors with whom student personal information is shared in order to deliver the educational service, if any, are obligated to implement these same commitments for the given student personal information.

– Allow a successor entity to maintain the student personal information, in the case of our merger or acquisition by another entity, provided the successor entity is subject to these same commitments for the previously collected student personal information.


Much of which is pretty much common-sense. Educational data to be used only for educational purposes, and with strict rules and security to prevent it being used in any other way. Personalised education, not targetted ads.

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Education Work

Can data mining in Nigeria and mobile phones help tackle malaria?

Malaria kills 400,000 children a year.

By next year, mobile phone subscriptions will top 1 billion.

Those phones, surely, offer the opportunity for communicating, for data and for creating networks of real value – any self-respecting geek would tell you that the odds must be in their favour. And there’s no more self-respecting geeks than Google.org – the philanthropic arm of the search people, the ones who really commit to ‘do no evil’. Last month, they announced they are giving $600,000 to Malaria No More (from a $15million tech/philanthropy fund) to launch a data mining project in Nigeria.

The new project involves a partnership with Sproxil, a start-up which is battling the counterfeit drugs market by placing unique codes on authentic medicines. The patient can text the code to get verification that the drugs are authentic. Sproxil has, so far, verified 13.4 million drugs – but that’s relatively small change in the battle against malaria. The text exchange can not only verify the drugs, but it can also map the disease, and malaria has always been a very difficult disease to track.

There are complications – taking the drug doesnt mean you have the disease – there’s mis-diagnosis and there’s also the tendency to take anti-malarials when the patient has a fever, ‘just in case’, and no formal diagnosis ever takes place.

So, Malaria No More has brought in the data miners – Palantir – and the disease specialists from Harvard and Bill Clinton’s Health Access Initiative, and they can begin to work on whether drug verification is an effective proxy for incidences of the disease – as well as work out where the disease is being treated by counterfeit drugs and ineffective treatments.

Either way, the creation of a bank of data which maps the incidence and treatment of a killer disease, and uses locally appropriate tech to do so, could offer some real breakthroughs. It can be a big weapon in the fight against disease in Nigeria – and beyond.


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A mind boggling look at one minute on the internet

The amount of ‘stuff’ happening on the internet is pretty staggering. You probably already know there is more content out there than you could ever have time to sift through. There are more YouTube videos than you have time to watch, and too many cat photos to count. But quantifying the amount of data ready for your consumption at any given time is difficult – at best.
The handy infographic below explores the amount of data generated every minute – which is how small a period of time you need to break things down in order to get reasonable numbers to comprehend. So what does one minute on the internet look like? Since the number of internet users across the globe currently tops more than 2 billion users, these numbers are anything but surprising, but it is still amazing to think of how far we’ve come from the days of waiting for your AOL dialup to connect. The graphic only addresses some of the more popular sites and social networking tools, so as you scroll through, don’t forget that this clearly isn’t everything – there is a lot more going on out there in the big world of the internet than we can possibly imagine.

What does a minute on the internet look like?

  • The mobile web receives 217 new users
  • 48 hours of new video are uploaded to YouTube
  • Email users send 204,166.667 messages
  • Google receives over 2,000,000 queries
  • Facebook users share 684.478 piece of content
  • 347 new blog posts are published on WordPress sites
  • Consumers spend $ 272,070 on web shopping
  • 571 new websites are created
  • 2,083 checkins are performed on FourSquare
  • 100,000 Tweets are sent
  • 3.125 new photos are added on Flickr
  • 3,600 photos are shared on Instagram
  • 47,000 apps are downloaded from iTunes
  • 34, 722 brands and organizations are ‘liked’ on Facebook
  • 27,788 new posts are published on Tumblr

minute on the internet

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