Hashtag Privacy Please! Naughty, naughty! Facebook’s allegedly been peeping into your privates—messages that is…which, a potential class action lawsuit claims, is in violation of federal and state laws.
Filed by two Facebook users against Facebook the lawsuit alleges the social media platform scans messages between users labeled “private” for links and other information that can be sold to third parties including advertisers, marketers and data aggregators. The Facebook lawsuit is seeking class action status, with a potential 166 million Facebook users in the US eligible to join the class, if it is certified.
Plaintiffs Matthew Campbell from Arkansas and Michael Hurley from Oregon filed the lawsuit in a US district court in Northern California, alleging Facebook data mines “private” messages without disclosing it does so, or seeking users’ consent. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges Facebook’s intercepting and using links in “private” messages between users is in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and California privacy and unfair competition laws.
“Facebook’s desire to harness the myriad data points of its users has led to overreach and intrusion … as it mines its account holders’ private communications for monetary gain,” the lawsuit contends.
Great start to the New Year guys!
Holy Hyundai! (ok, bad, I know) A preliminary $395 settlement has been reached in a consumer fraud class action pending against Hyundai Motor Corp. and Kia Motors alleging gas mileage rating were overstated by the automotive manufacturers. The settlement will affect some 600,000 of Hyundai’s 2011-13 models and about 300,000 of Kia‘s 2011-13 models in the US.
The back story? ….In November 2012, Hyundai and Kia Motors agreed to restate expected gas mileage for 1.1 million vehicles in North America, following an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency. The automakers admitted they after overstated mileage claims on vehicle window stickers for 900,000 vehicles in the United States. The settlement impacts about 600,000 of Hyundai’s 2011-13 models and about 300,000 of Kia‘s 2011-13 models in the U.S. Hyundai’s settlement is valued at up to $210 million, while Kia’s is valued at $185 million.
The 2012 restatement reduced Hyundai-Kia’s fleetwide average fuel economy from 27 to 26 mpg for the 2012 model year. Individual ratings, depending on the car, will fall from 1 mpg to 6 mpg. Most vehicles saw combined city-highway efficiency drop by 1 mpg, the Detroit News reports. Exact figures will depend on how many customers elect to participate in the settlement’s one-time lump sum payment option or remain in the lifetime reimbursement program, the automakers said.
The Hyundai Kia settlement will resolve more than 50 lawsuits filed across the country to address the issue. Hyundai agreed to add the option of taking a lump sum payment. The proposed cash amount, which varies by vehicle model and ownership type, will result in an average payment of $353 to Hyundai owners and lessees. For example, an owner of a 2012 Elantra would receive a lump sum payment of $320 minus any previous reimbursement payments. For Kia owners, the proposed average cash lump-sum amount will be about $667.
A federal judge is expected to review the proposed settlement for preliminary approval in early 2014. If approved, settlement notices will be sent to individual class members. To get the full skinny on initial details of the settlement, you can visit hyundaimpginfo.com or www.kiampginfo.com.
Royal Health to Shell Out a Royal $1.94 Million …in unpaid overtime. Yup. A preliminary settlement has been reached in an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit pending against Royal Health Care of Long Island LLC. Employees who filed the class action alleged the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York state labor laws by not paying them overtime pay.
In their employment lawsuit, the 411 plaintiffs allege Royal Health misclassified their positions as Representative, which are exempt from the overtime provisions stipulated under the FLSA and NYLL, and thereby failed to pay Plaintiffs overtime when they worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.
Under the terms of the Royal Health settlement, the Royal Health will pay $1.94 million to plaintiffs who worked eight weeks or more, between May 2006 to May 2013. If approved, funds will be distributed proportionally among the Class Members based on number of weeks each worked at Royal Health Care. An incentive award of $10,000 each will also be given to the four original named plaintiffs.
A Fairness Hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2014. The Royal Health Care Unpaid Overtime Class Action Lawsuit is Chandrakalli Sukhnandan et al. v. Royal Health Care of Long Island LLC, Case No. 1:12-cv-04216, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. Happy New Year! Here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2014 for all.
There is little doubt the evolution of communication towards electronic or social platforms such as email, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter has effectively taken over our lives. Social networking, while great for reconnecting with long-lost friends or career networking, can also carry substantial risk–and often the fallout is nothing short of devastating.
While figures are not yet available for 2012, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ 3/15/12) reported last year that incidents of identity theft increased 13 percent in 2011 over the same period the year before. That translates to 12 million Americans.
What’s worse, it can take, on average some 30 hours and about $500 to resolve online identity fraud, according to TransUnion, a credit-reporting firm.
Think of it. 30 hours represents almost an entire week’s worth of lost productivity – so the financial costs can be even higher. And beyond examples of simple identity theft, are cases that are far more complex and damaging, for which legal representation is often necessary.
As our use of smart communications technology and social media increases, it’s useful to be aware of who is at risk for identity theft: 7 percent of smartphone owners were victims of identity theft in 2011, and are considered one-third more likely to fall prey to identity theft than the general population.
The reason, is that smartphones are actually mini-computers–but users tend not to protect their smartphones with passwords and other security features, as they would their PCs or laptops. According to a recent survey, 62 percent of smartphone users fail to use a password to access their home screen.
You might be surprised to know that according to a survey conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research, the business social network LinkedIn had the highest identity-theft rate at ten percent, vs. five percent for the general population. The rate for Google+ users was 7 percent, 6.3 percent for Twitter and 5.7 percent amongst users Facebook. Note that these figures are all about a year old and are probably much higher today. Facebook, says Javelin, is probably the lowest due to the availability and awareness of those much-maligned but highly effective privacy settings.
On the other end of the scale, LinkedIn is probably high because users perceive LinkedIn as a business platform and take fewer precautions, given an assumption you are connecting with like-minded business people rather than spammers, or worse.
And here is another sobering thought–you will recall that large security breaches involving Sony, Epsilon and RSA together with several government entities in 2011 represented a whopping 67 percent increase over the same period in 2010.
Ways you can protect yourself include keeping your antivirus software updated on all devices, the consistent use of strong passwords (featuring a mix of letters, numbers and symbols), and the use of different passwords for each account. And avoid storing personal information on a mobile device. All it takes is the laying down of your Blackberry or iPhone for a split second in a crowded venue and suddenly, it’s gone – with all your personal information along for the ride.
Even emails can get you in trouble, by inadvertently hitting ‘Reply all’ instead of just ‘reply.’ In so doing you may have sent sensitive, hurtful or even libelous information out to the masses.
There is little doubt that electronic communication and social networking are here to stay, as is the growing e-commerce. Protecting your identity is of paramount importance.
Remember that uproar not so long ago about employers asking for social media passwords? The story got a lot of press as job seekers in particular feared being caught between a rock and a hard place if a potential employer were to ask for their Facebook password. A dicey situation at best—and a privacy violation at worst.
Well, now we have some good news: California has signed two new laws relating to social media privacy protection. The first prohibits employers from asking current employees and/or job applicants for social media passwords in an attempt to get insight about the individual via social media snooping.
The second law covers off the same for current and prospective college students and student athletes at universities.
According to a Reuters report (9/27/12), California employers will now be barred from firing or taking disciplinary action against anyone who refuses to give up information related to their social media accounts.
The Reuters article goes on to share this statement from Governor Jerry Brown: “The Golden State is pioneering the social media revolution and these laws will protect all Californians from unwarranted invasions of their personal social media accounts.”
The new California social media password laws go into effect January 1, 2013.
How it hadn’t happened earlier is a mystery, but there’s a new website in town that’ll give even the snoopiest of insurance companies or HR departments a run for their money—heck, it might even be a new resource for them. The website is WeKnowWhatYoureDoing.com.
And know they do.
Want to be outed for hating your boss and wanting to be fired? Stop by.
Want to be outed for being way the hell too hungover to show up for work? Click on over.
How ’bout being outed for taking drugs? Gotcha covered.
Oh, and you’re also outed on WeKnowWhatYoureDoing.com if you’ve got a new phone number. Nice to know.
The key here is that YOU do not have to actually sign up for the pleasure of being outed on Facebook—you merely have to post something (something rather stupid I might mention) and not be too up on your Facebook privacy settings, and—Voila!—you may well show up on the site.
You may be sitting there saying, “Gosh, isn’t that like some sort of internet privacy issue? Aren’t they doing something illegal?”
Well, not exactly.
A little unkind, perhaps—but YOU’VE put the post about your prior night’s transgressions out there publicly for everyone to access, right? Not smart.
Here’s an excerpt on what WeKnowWhatYoureDoing.com has to say about things:
How does it Work? It simply queries Facebook’s Graph API and outputs the results. There is nothing on this website that cannot be accessed by anyone else.
Note also the site’s disclaimer (to see full disclaimer, visit the site):
Disclaimer: All data is pulled directly from Facebook, it is not censored, and it is publicly accessible via the Graph API. I cannot be held responsible for any persons actions as a result of using this experiment. Absolutely no information from any of the data providers includes, but not limited to Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Yahoo, or Google is being collected or stored.
Hmm. Now may be a good time to head over to Facebook and make sure your privacy settings aren’t set to “Public”.
Oh, and WeKnowWhatYoureDoing.com even tells you how to do that:
Just go to https://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy and make sure Control Your Default Privacy is not set to “Public”. You can set it to “Friends” but for the best privacy it is recommended you choose “Custom” and go through each option to choose who can see what.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently shared some tips for job hunters who need to be on the lookout for job scams. Seems one person’s economic woes are another person’s opportunity—as typically is the case with scams or internet fraud of any sort. Here are some of the more frequently seen job scam tactics to watch out for:
1. Spelling and Grammar Mistakes. A number of scams originate from outside the U.S. in locations where English isn’t necessarily the first language. Needless to say, if there’s one situation where spelling is key, it’s on the job hunt, and any correspondence with misspells or lousy grammar should raise a red flag.
2. “Problems with Your Job Site Account”. Most job hunters nowadays have profiles on the major job search sites—like Monster.com for example. Scammers know this and send phishing emails—that claim to be from the job search site—stating that there’s a problem with your account. In order to fix the problem, the email sends the job hunter to a link that ultimately installs a virus or malware on his computer.
3. Got the Job Minus the Interview. Or minus any real experience. Wouldn’t that be nice, eh? Unfortunately, after being told “you’ve got the job”, the job seeker is contacted by the would-be employer—by phone or email—who asks for the would-be new hire’s social security number and/or bank account numbers. The BBB warns that you should never provide such info to an employer over the phone or by email.
4. Work from Home! And get rich while you’re at it, right? It’s a dream gig—especially for work-at-home moms, the disabled, seniors or students—and it sounds enticing. But as the adage goes…if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Best thing to do? Check out the company with the local BBB.
5. Asking for Money Upfront. Unless you’re investing in some start-up somehow, the idea of employment is that the employer pays the employee; not the other way around. This includes things like being asked to pay for a background check. A corollary to this is the MoneyGram or Western Union request—if anyone asks you to send money via MoneyGram or Western Union in any way, shape or form, it should raise a red flag.
Should you encounter a job scam or internet fraud, be sure to report it to the BBB.