Monthly Archives: August 2010

GigaOm/NYT like echoecho privacy ;)

UPDATE: The below linked GigaOm article also on NYTimes

First Register and now GigaOm…WTF ? Is privacy in location sharing important or something 😉

Mathew Ingram writes a nice roundup about privacy – and echoecho gets a shout-out.

“A startup called echoecho offers a service that allows you to request someone’s location quickly and easily, and they can decide to tell you or not, depending on where they are, what they’re doing, and what relationship you have with them. echoecho founder Nick Bicanic says this makes it easier for people to change their minds on who they want to tell, rather than just constantly broadcasting their location to everyone.”

I like the fact that the article focuses on privacy in general – not just about location sharing…Danah’s points are very much valid (I believe I’ve referred to them more than once on this very blog) and it’s good to see this approach get even more recognition…let’s keep it rolling…


another official press release for echoecho…

wow. 2 in one week. What’s that about…

Well in this case we issued a release pre-Facebook Places.
Then location sharing privacy suddenly became a very hot topic – and of course echoecho is one of the few if not the only location sharing service to handle privacy properly

So we issued another release 😉

Here’s a link to the pdf

The Register likes echoecho’s privacy ;)

Heads-up and thanks to Bill Ray over at UK tech-blog The Register (always worth it if you want your tech news with a little more attitude and Euro-bite than the US equivalents) – Bill wrote about echoecho here.

“The idea is to provide the important bits of Facebook Places without the rather creepy stalking side of things, but it’s also driven by the requester, and harder to fake than a Facebook tag.”
The Register

Interestingly Bill seems to think that most facebook users “really do want the world to know where they are and damn the privacy consequences” – I’m gonna disagree with that. I would say that definitely there are some who don’t care (especially obsessively sharing techie early adopter facebook users)…but many others don’t KNOW rather than don’t CARE.

That’s a big difference.

As I’ve said before on this blog – oversharing information about your food and film preferences is very very different to sharing your location.

You suddenly make the virtual real.

I think the impact of Facebook Places on social network users attitude to geo-privacy is just beginning to be felt.

new age adages…

It used to be that

“On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog.”

courtesy of the New Yorker and Peter Steiner but I propose a new version – now that Facebook Places is spreading around the globe.

“On the internet everyone knows the exact location of the last fire hydrant you peed on.”

hmm…maybe that could be shorter – suggestions welcome in the comments…

The point being of course – that the layer of privacy/anonymity that internet communication provided was once deemed sufficiently significant, funny and understandable that it was not only immortalised as a clever cartoon – but it actually managed to pass into popular media vernacular.

And it’s interesting to note that it’s this very same privacy that Facebook is actively seeking to erode.
Unfortunate really – because Facebook’s services would be equally useful to users if they were launched with different privacy settings…but of course they’d be LESS useful to Facebook.

So no surprise there after all…

if Mark Zuckerberg cared about privacy…

then the location sharing preferences on facebook would look something like this:

echo flash zuck ;)

Instead they look like this:

location_settings Facebook

errm…which one do we think makes more sense…

yeah. thought so.

we built everything on echoecho to optimise speed, elegance and utility to the USER – but never at the expense of the user’s privacy. The trouble is that many other social networks are optimised to give maximum value to the NETWORK (or in the case of Foursquare and Facebook Places to a venue/brand/advertiser). That’s a hell of a way to design a user experience – which is supposed to be about maximising value for the user.

Those guys at Facebook are just gonna have to start reading my blog posts 😉

an official press release for echoecho…

we don’t get one of those every day 😉

Here’s a link to the pdf

”Since we started our public beta in late January, over 500,000 echoes have been sent”, states Nick Bicanic, CEO of Echoecho Mobile, “Everybody seems to fall in love with the simplicity and speed. And they continue to like our emphasis on privacy,” he explains. “echoecho does one thing…and does it well – you can share your location with one click.”

A key new feature for version 1.7 is autoReply – we listened to what our users wanted and developed a method of hands-free location sharing that is unique within the industry. You can now answer the question “Where are you?” without taking your phone out of your pocket.

Lots more cool stuff coming in the next few weeks…

so facebook is finally in the locations game…

not much of a big whoop about what they are doing – though I wouldn’t be surprised if Dennis Crowley is wondering whether he should have taken the acquisition offer while he still could.

Plenty of coverage out there about Facebook Places – I liked this piece by Bill Ray and Mike over at RWW wrote nice summary of one disables Places.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

What the hell does all this mean?

For echoecho – nothing bad that I can see. The general Facebook using public will be made more aware about Location Sharing as a feature…and everybody in the LBS space benefits from this.

For other LBS companies – well Facebook has basically built a check-in service just like Foursquare. Dennis & co. can put up a brave face – but considering that I know plenty of Foursquare users – but not a single one of them is NOT on Facebook…I have a sneaky suspicion Foursquare is gonna die.

And I’m not the only one.

As for the user – well there are huge privacy implications. There always are surrounding location – but these are multiplied tenfold when one consider Facebook as the base platform – since Facebook is notorious for taking steps to make it as easy as humanly possible to NOT BE PRIVATE.
I get why they do it – but it’s a scary strategy – and I don’t think it’s very people friendly.

And I’m not the only one. 😉

Case in point – an RWW article on facebook privacy

I mean look at this;

facebook default

If I choose to use facebook check-ins – by default – my location is broadcast not just to my friends but to the ENTIRE WORLD….This is astounding.

I don’t care how they dress this up “Oh but you have to opt in”, “We want to create new location experiences for our users” etc etc…it’s all total bullshit – facebook wants data and it considers that the users are not smart enough to figure out how to turn off these features.

Facebook knows 90% of the people won’t turn these features off – and it doesn’t care about the 10% who will…

We shall see how the world reacts to this as facebook places is rolled out worldwide…