Facebook and its relationship with Cambridge Analytica have swept through the news and sparked questions about whether Facebook can be trusted with your information. In this episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss why deleting Facebook altogether might be unrealistic and tricks that will help make your Facebook account more secure. They also talk about Instagram and how it both is and isn’t a reliable alternative to Facebook. As always, stay tuned for the parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
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The Kennedy-Mighell Report
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Intro: Web 2.0, Innovation, Trend, Collaboration, Software, Metadata… Got the world turning as fast as it can, hear how technology can help, legally speaking with two of the top legal technology experts, authors and lawyers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Welcome to The Kennedy-Mighell Report here on the Legal Talk Network.
Dennis Kennedy: And welcome to Episode #210 of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. I am Dennis Kennedy in St. Louis.
Tom Mighell: And I am Tom Mighell in Dallas. Before we get started, we would like to thank our sponsors.
Dennis Kennedy: First of all, thanks to TextExpander for sponsoring our show. Communicate Smarter with TextExpander. Gather, Perfect, and Share Your Knowledge. Recall your best words instantly and repeatedly. Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.textexpander.com/podcast”textexpander.com/podcast.
Tom Mighell: And we would also like to thank ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted, prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high volume serves, embrace technology and understand the litigation process. Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.serve-now.com/”serve-now.com to learn more.
Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode we discussed whether you should be ready for reddit. In this episode, wait Tom, again, we have a breaking story.
Tom Mighell: Another breaking story.
Dennis Kennedy: And it’s an exclusive that we are able to break. The Kennedy-Mighell Report announces the news that the second edition of our book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies’ is now available in the ABA online bookstore.
However, in this episode of the podcast we decided to dive into some of the practical aspects around the latest Facebook brouhaha and the latest round of people saying that they will now quit Facebook, once again, and they really mean it this time.
Tom, what’s all on our agenda for this episode?
Tom Mighell: Well Dennis, in this edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report we will indeed be discussing Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and the practical steps that you could or should be taking to protect your privacy and your data, no matter what social network you might be using.
In our second segment, we are going to make a quick few observations on ABA TECHSHOW 2018 and the SOLID West Conferences. And as usual, we will finish up with our parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can start to use the second that this podcast is over.
But first up, Facebook, it’s hard to ignore what happened in the past couple of weeks with Facebook, because all the news outlets, both print and otherwise and electronic, seem to be completely obsessed with it. In a very brief summary we will say that a company called Cambridge Analytica actually was in the news a couple of years ago for demonstrating how well and how successfully it used big data and data about lots of people to successfully advocate on behalf of certain political candidates.
It has come to light in recent weeks that they were able to obtain information on, the estimate is around 50 million Facebook users, really only by going to a couple 100,000 Facebook users who would answer questions online and by doing so gave the analytics company access to other users.
They have been banned now from Facebook. Facebook is facing, not only a significant decrease in their market cap, but they are also looking at investigations, they are looking at ways to protect information, and I think that what we have seen is a lot of #DeleteFacebook on Twitter, which seems to be the usual response whenever Facebook or some other social media network goes crazy and bizarre.
Dennis, why is it that what we are learning about Facebook is really no big surprise to us, but why is it that you never seem to have any sympathy when people discover to their horror that they have revealed all sorts of personal information on social media?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I mean I think in fairness there have been stories about this kind of stuff forever, seems like in Facebook, seems like every couple of years that somebody discovers that they are sharing information in ways they didn’t expect, even though, most of the times you get asked these days about how you want to share things.
I think that it is interesting Tom that a lot of the news outlets, mainstream media and otherwise have seen Facebook become a major competitor and so it’s not surprising that they have jumped all over the story. So there is some question about how much is really there.
But I think it’s a great time to remind ourselves about what you need to do when you are on social media and in otherwise using the Internet to protect yourself or to reach a sort of reasonable accommodation with what you are actually sharing in return for what you get.
So I guess I don’t have sympathy because I am reminded of a lot of people who routinely use weak passwords, they don’t update their programs, they use poor security techniques and then are surprised when they get hacked. So I think that social media and Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, they have been working over the years to provide people with more controls over what you share, how you set things up, how you monitor what’s going on and people just don’t seem to avail themselves of the tools that are there.
So I guess that I am just reminded of that great scene from Casablanca of when people are shocked, just shocked that there’s gambling going on. And so I don’t know, maybe Tom I am being too harsh, but I mean these stories have been around for years and the tools are here. So I guess I am a little less patient these days or sympathetic with people.
Tom Mighell: So I am not going to totally defend either the lawyers who we usually talk about as ignoring security issues for their computers. I am not going to completely defend them, but I think I am going to distinguish the behavior here at least a little bit, in part, here’s how I see it a little bit differently.
I see people who use weak passwords and who don’t update their programs and who get malware on their computers as more of a willful ignorance. It’s that they have been told that these things are going on, they ignore them to their peril and those are commonsense security measures that I think people should all be taking. And I think that’s more of a willful ignorance aspect.
But the difference though is when we talk about Facebook, when we talk about any social media platform, the emphasis is on sharing and they want you to share and so because that seems to be the default, people are going to automatically reach for the default and go for that. So I don’t totally blame folks from doing that. I think that those who are surprised that they are sharing a lot more information than they intended to share or maybe that they are sharing it with more people or with more companies than they intended to share is probably the better way to put it.
You may point out that there is a willful ignorance to not paying attention to the settings in Facebook and being able to be more granular and control the information is very similar, but I don’t know, I sort of distinguish it because I think that once you are out on a social network and you are encouraged to share, then that whole attitude of sharing can kind of take you over, and it’s kind of hard to pull out from that.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. I mean, I guess I don’t want to go into the blame game during this stuff, I think it’s more important and what I want to do with this show, and what we both want to do is to say hey, what should people do and I think that the main thing is this #DeleteFacebook thing. So I guess the real question is, is giving Facebook the death penalty a serious option? Are we just locking the barn door after the personal information cows have already run away?
So I think that — I don’t know that going off of Facebook is going to be this miracle curer, and I think in a lot of things, we have relationships, we have friendships, business relationships, a lot of people — I was listening to the podcast today saying a lot of people in the world of charities and nonprofits really depend on Facebook for keeping their audience together and informing people. So the idea of leaving Facebook is not realistic in a lot of cases.
And it’s tough to know, Tom. Some of the people who are talking about leaving Facebook and deleting it are talking about moving over to Instagram, which as you will point out is somewhat ironic.
Tom Mighell: Well, it’s somewhat ironic, but not completely ironic. I mean it’s interesting that we have seen calls by the creator of WhatsApp, who actually is owned by Facebook, was one of the ones who said to delete Facebook. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, has deleted all of Tesla and his companies’ related Facebook pages, but I know that he was never a fan of Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook.
But I agree with you, I don’t plan on quitting Facebook. Although I will say that for people who are probably addicted to social media and there are lots of people who are like that, maybe taking a break from Facebook isn’t a bad idea, maybe deleting it and seeing how that changes your life in the analog world isn’t necessarily a bad idea.
But granted, I was never one of the people who took all those personality quizzes; I may have taken one or two. I may have given information away that I didn’t intend to give away. But my primary purpose on Facebook has always been to keep up with what my friends are doing, and if I get rid of Facebook I lose that channel and that option. There are a lot of friends that I couldn’t or wouldn’t keep up with otherwise. And as long as Facebook is about that and I think it’s about many different things to many different people, all that have a value. You describe communities online that wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to communicate with each other if it weren’t for Facebook. So I don’t have any plans to quit it anytime soon.
I would say though that moving to Instagram to me, and I am talking about this at a very high level, seems to be a less risky proposition. You are not plugging into any apps. You are not giving information away to third parties, the same way that you would do it with Facebook. I understand that Instagram can probably scrape data the same way that Facebook can. They can tune the photos so they can tell where you are and monitor your location and that sort of thing, but I would argue, whether it’s a feeble argument or not, I would argue that the information on Instagram is a lot less — they are collecting a lot less information than they do on Facebook. So if you are looking for a lesser of two evils, I don’t know, Instagram might be an option for that.
Dennis Kennedy: Well Tom, the point I was going to make about Instagram is it’s actually owned by Facebook.
Tom Mighell: Right, I understand that. I am just — I get the distinction, but to me, it’s a less invasive Facebook mainly.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, just an example to me of people who haven’t really thought through the consequences of what they are doing.
So anyway, the practical approach Tom, I think is a four-step process. So one, know what permissions you have given and are giving, first of all. Second, understand what is actually being collected about you. Third, match the settings to what you want to accomplish, how private you want to be or how public you want to be. And then to — you can call it vigilant, be vigilant or to check those repeatedly.
But it’s a process and I think that if you do those things, and that applies to all social media, not just Facebook, that you are going to be in pretty good shape. And to me, it’s all about the settings. I mean settings give you tons of power to control many different aspects of your presence on these tools. And so I say if you aren’t familiar with the settings and you don’t know where to find them, then you actually are the problem.
Tom Mighell: I mean I think that’s part of your problem. I mean I think that I am going to go through — those I think are the good practical things to do. Let me go through some of my tips that — some are fairly radical, some are things you may not want to do, but if your goal is to minimize your footprint on Facebook, here are a couple of things to think about.
One is, keep your detail sparse. The fewer details in your profile, the less they can learn about you. You can let people know where you work, but do you need to let them know that you started working a certain year, do you need to let them know that your favorite drink is Coca-Cola. I mean obviously if you don’t care about that, then it’s okay to let them know that.
By keeping your activity to a minimum, do you really have to like everything, every single post that you see, because every like means something to some advertiser that’s out there. Do you have to respond maybe to an event that you know you are not attending? Do you care about that?
By being smart about how you respond, that also limits the information that you are providing for them.
One of the articles that I read said that maybe one way to keep Facebook from tracking you is to uninstall those mobile apps. I frankly think that takes a lot of the fun out of Facebook, especially if you are going to share the details of your life when you are out of the house, but they certainly can’t track you if you are only accessing Facebook from one place in your house.
Get out of groups that you don’t need anymore. Go and look at the groups you joined, do you really need to be in all of them? Are there friends that you don’t follow anymore or friends that you could — I occasionally go through and I prune out people that I either don’t talk to anymore or haven’t been close to and my Facebook group is relatively small.
I think we are going to talk about disconnecting the third-party apps in just a minute so I will hold that. But one of the actual really interesting tips that I found is that if you have noticed this before, if you go out on the Internet, Facebook puts a tracker on your computer so that even when you leave Facebook, it follows where on the web you visit.
So you might go out and search for some new glasses on the Internet and then you come back to Facebook and suddenly there’s an ad for Warby Parker glasses right in your feed, and you are wondering why and how did they know that I was searching for glasses on Warby Parker. Well, it’s because they are tracking you.
One of the ways to deal with this is to go to a website call HYPERLINK “http://www.” youradchoices com and you can opt-out of the advertising tracking on Facebook. There are about 135 other services that will track you, you can opt-out of all of them with I think one click frankly, or you can choose the ones that you want to opt-out on.
The only problem with this is that it works on a browser by browser basis. So if you use multiple browsers or devices to surf the web, unfortunately you are going to have to run this tool on all of them, because it doesn’t just know who you are, it just knows how you are accessing the Internet. So it’s a great tool to stop Facebook from tracking you, but it’s a little bit of a pain to have to deal with that.
Dennis, did you go through and look at any apps that you had connected to your Facebook account as part of this?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I did. I would step back one step from where you started Tom. I think all your suggestions are really good, but I would say go to the settings and just work your way through every single one of them and figure out what the implications are and then make decisions consistent with your comfort and the risk benefit equation that you have on Facebook.
So yeah, I did look at the apps and this is the thing that really struck me in some of the things I was reading, where people are saying, I found out I had hundreds of apps accessing my data on Facebook, and when I went to the settings and I saw those, I couldn’t believe them because they were 200, 300, something like that.
Well, on mine, I go in there and it’s the same number it has always been. There are four of them. There are four things I explicitly gave access to. I look at that from time to time and it’s just striking to me that people don’t pay attention to that.
So I think that you want to look at those things and you want — there are certain things that — I know Tom, you and I have a completely different view of location information. I never give permission for location tracking, even though it causes some inconvenience when I am traveling.
There are other things that — there are people who are comfortable with location, but they are not comfortable with something else that I am, but on those apps things, there’s just no reason that even while you are listening to this podcast not to go into the settings and see what apps are there.
I know it’s going to be the games, the gambling things, the things that friends of yours sent that you decided to install and you just didn’t pay attention to what sort of access you were giving them.
Tom Mighell: Well, but it’s not just that, and so I will say Dennis, you are talking about me, because I went to go look at how many apps and guess how many I had, I had over 300 apps that were connected to my account, because I don’t do like you do. I don’t go in. I am like everybody else that we talked to, I don’t go in and prune those apps very often; I want to, I think about it, I just don’t ever go do it.
I went in and I pruned them, and I pruned them down to 45 of services that I trust or at least trust more than the other ones. Most of the things that I pruned are things that I never use, I don’t know why I use them.
But here’s the thing that makes Facebook hard to deal with, which is that Facebook has made itself an indispensable tool all over the Internet as being a way to sign in to a particular site. When you don’t want to have to create a password, when you don’t want to have to worry about logging in, you just click that log in with Facebook and boom, you are in and it’s so simple and it’s so convenient. But what it does is, is it connects that service to your Facebook account and so that becomes one of the apps that’s there.
And so that’s part of the reason why people have lots of apps. If you don’t use that service, you don’t have to worry about it. You can have the three or four apps that are like that. I tend to be one of those people who go for the convenience rather than trying to get a password, and that doesn’t mean that I don’t go back later and create a stronger password; it just means that sometimes I want to go faster.
But I will say that’s an issue, and it’s an issue that I have addressed. I probably haven’t gotten down to the three or four that you have got, but I feel a lot better about my apps now that I have cleaned them out.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, and I think that if you have made the decision to use Facebook, LinkedIn or Google as the universal identity tool and there are benefits to that, then your approach is going to change.
Tom, I want to talk about just quickly three things I thought were really important as a way for people to kind of understand what’s happening with their own accounts and advice people to kind of keep up with the stories and sort through what’s current, what are corrections, what myths are out there.
But I think it’s pretty straightforward to find out what Facebook knows about you and your advertising preferences, so go take a look at those.
If you have time and want to do this, there’s no reason not to download your Facebook data and take a look through it.
Tom Mighell: I did that today.
Dennis Kennedy: People have learned some things. And then I think there’s the — the thing that you talked about as well, I think that we kind of worry about what Facebook knows about us when we — if we are sloppy about friends and what the personal stuff we disclose. The friends and friends of friends, we may be disclosing immense amounts of information that if we thought about it we wouldn’t want to do.
And then Tom, you and I always talk about the quizzes, basically with questions that are designed to elicit what the answers are to common security questions, so you just need to use your head out there.
Tom Mighell: Yeah, I think really that the bottom line for our advice is just use commonsense and use Facebook for communicating with your friends, but really think about who is asking these questions and who could get to the answers of these questions that you are providing information on and hopefully you will make that right decision.
All right, before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick break for a message from our sponsors.
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Tom Mighell: And now let’s get back to The Kennedy-Mighell Report. I am Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I am Dennis Kennedy. I have recently been to both ABA TECHSHOW 2018 and the SOLID West Conference. Tom co-chaired ABA TECHSHOW this year. We thought we would take just a few minutes in our B segment to reflect on some of the highlights from those conferences.
Tom, have you recovered from co-chairing TECHSHOW and had time to draw any conclusions?
Tom Mighell: I have mostly recovered from TECHSHOW and if I am guessing correctly, I think we are both going to talk about these conferences as things that lawyers ought to be attending, if they aren’t already attending them, and as you say, because I was co-chair I tend to be a little biased. My report will be a little one-sided.
But I do have to say that our first year in a new venue, most of the things that could go wrong when you move to a new venue didn’t go wrong and I would say that the transition was pretty close to flawless.
So we got lots of positive feedback, lots of people enjoyed it. We had a lot more people attending this year than in years past. Here were the highlights for me.
One, the vast majority of people I talked to really liked the new Hyatt. Once you got to the conference area, it could take a little while to get there, but once you get there, it was so close to the vendor floor. The vendors pretty much overwhelmingly prefer this vendor space to our old location.
I continue to believe that TECHSHOW is the premier technology conference for most lawyers, but particularly solo and small firm lawyers and that’s really because of the educational content. You just won’t find the volume of solid, on-point legal technology content. There’s always a few that don’t live up to expectations, we are always going to have that, but for the most part, our speaker and session ratings have been showing that our content was really strong this year.
I was especially happy with this year’s Start-Up Alley, where we invite legal tech startups to pitch their product. Last year we had a good crowd; this year we had a great crowd. They packed an even bigger room than we had before, learned about some great legal tech startup companies.
I will say it again, TECHSHOW is really about the personal interactions that make this conference so well. I know Dennis that you didn’t attend a single session, I don’t think, and I didn’t attend a single session either, except for the ones that I presented in, but I still felt like I got a lot out of it. I think that’s how most people feel about TECHSHOW is I think you get a lot out of just being there around people who have the same energy and the same desire.
So I will just say a reminder, that TECHSHOW 2019 is earlier this year, February 27th through March the 3rd, again at the Chicago Hyatt. Make sure your calendar is blocked out for those dates. And there ends my ad for ABA TECHSHOW.
Dennis, tell us about the SOLID Conference.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I do want to echo that I had a really fun time at TECHSHOW, and Tom, as you mentioned, once again I learned that you can learn tons of conferences in the hallways than on the exhibit floor.
But I went to the SOLID West Conference, which David Cowen put on in San Francisco a week after TECHSHOW, and it was two completely different audiences, frankly, and I was excited from both conferences in different ways.
So SOLID is about innovation and we had the chief — and a focus on Chief Innovation Officers was one of the themes of SOLID West, so about 150 or 175 people, in-house, large firm, legal technology companies as well, so very high end discussions, a lot of really interesting things happening out there. I got to meet a lot of great people and have the opportunity to work with them on some projects going forward as we form groups out of this.
So it was a great day of the TED Talk styles, 5-7 minute presentations, with time to sit at a table with people and discuss what had happened in earlier conversations, so a great way to meet people, learn what was going on, and really just a great conference for me.
So they are going to do a SOLID East, I think probably this fall, and so pay attention to that space, because there are some really cool things coming out of there in innovation.
Now it’s time for our parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation you can use the second this podcast ends. Tom, take it away.
Tom Mighell: So my parting shot this week, this episode is for a Chrome extension called CrossCheck. In a day and age where fake news is apparently more available than we would like it to be, CrossCheck tries to scrape all the news sites that are out there and make sure and actually try to check that the news article that you are reading has either been quoted in other places or has validation in other places or this is just the only place where it’s being quoted, in which case you might want to view it with more skepticism.
And so it collects news from all over the web and it compares it, once you go to a website, it compares the article you are reading to its database, and you click on a button and it will give you its CrossCheck score; the higher the score, the more likely to be accurate and factual; the lower the score, the more likely to be fake news or at least inaccurate or wrong.
It isn’t free. I think you get the first 100 free and then you have got to pay for it. So I am not sure about the total utility of this extension. I am not sure that I will use it for very long, but I like the fact that people are starting to look at ways to make it easy for us to be able to distinguish what’s true, what’s not true, and I like the direction that a extension like Cross Check is going. It’s at HYPERLINK “http://www.crosschecked.io” crosschecked.io.
Dennis Kennedy: Reminds me of some of the potential of artificial intelligence too as time goes along, hitting some of those same issues.
So my — I have two; one, not surprisingly Tom, is again mentioning that the new edition of our ‘Collaboration Tools and Technologies’ book is available on the ABA online bookstore.
I also want to mention a blog called Snarky Nomad, which is HYPERLINK “http://www.snarkynomad.com” snarkynomad.com and this is one of these travel sites with a guy who is really into travel, but especially the tools of travel. And he has updated his reviews of bags and especially clothing, which is great, because I am really fascinated in all these new travel clothes, which then you can use for non-travel as well.
So there’s a lot of good stuff on these great merino wool shirts that I have started to like, travel pants with the extra zippered pockets and really comfortable, fast drying, so really detailed reviews. And you are going to spend money probably after you read some of these reviews, but it’s great because he is so thorough and it’s really helpful in identifying some cool things that you probably didn’t know existed otherwise.
Tom Mighell: I am already subscribed.
So that wraps it up for this edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. Thanks for joining us on the podcast.
You can find show notes for this episode at HYPERLINK “http://www.tkmreport.com/” tkmreport.com. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or on the Legal Talk Network site, where you can find archives of all of our previous podcasts.
If you would like to get in touch with us, you can find us on LinkedIn, on Twitter or you can call us. Remember we like your voicemail questions for our B segment. That number again is 720-441-6820.
So until the next podcast, I am Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I am Dennis Kennedy, and you have been listening to The Kennedy-Mighell Report, a podcast on legal technology with an Internet focus.
If you liked what you heard today, please rate us in Apple Podcasts. We will see you next time for another episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report on the Legal Talk Network.
Outro: Thanks for listening to The Kennedy-Mighell Report. Check out Dennis and Tom’s book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together’ from ABA Books or Amazon, and join us every other week for another edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, only on the Legal Talk Network.