Archive for the ‘Social’ Category

File Under: privacy, Social

Social Sharing Buttons That Respect Your Visitors’ Privacy

A more honest “Like” button. Image: Webmonkey.

Social sharing buttons — Facebook “Like” buttons and their ilk — are ubiquitous, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good idea.

Designers tend to hate them, calling them “Nascar” buttons since the can make your site look at little bit like a Nascar racing car — every available inch of car covered in advertising. Others think the buttons make you look desperate — please, please like/pin/tweet me — but there’s a much more serious problem with putting Facebook “Like” buttons or Pinterest “Pin It” buttons on your site: your visitors’ privacy.

When you load up your site with a host of sharing buttons you’re — unwittingly perhaps — enabling those companies to track your visitors, whether they use the buttons and their accompanying social networks or not.

There is, however, a slick solution available for those who’d like to offer visitors sharing buttons without allowing their site to be a vector for Facebook tracking. Security expert (and Wired contributor) Bruce Schneier recently switched his blog over to use Social Share Privacy, a jQuery plugin that allows you to add social buttons to your site, but keeps them disabled until visitors actively choose to share something.

With Social Share Privacy buttons are disabled by default. A user needs to first click to enable them, then click to use them. So there is a second (very small) step compared to what the typical buttons offer. In exchange for the minor inconvenience of a second click, your users won’t be tracked without their knowledge and consent. There’s even an option in the preferences to permanently enable the buttons for repeat visitors so they only need to jump through the click-twice hoop once.

The original Social Share Privacy plugin was created by the German website Heise Online, though what Schneier installed is Mathias Panzenböck’s fork, available on GitHub. The fork adds support for quite a few more services and is extensible if there’s something else you’d like to add.

File Under: Social, Web Services

New ‘Sign-Ins’ Offer Developers a Facebook Connect for Google+

Google+ Sign-In on Image: Google.

Google has announced a new feature for Google+ — third-party websites and applications can now offer sign ins through Google+.

The new Google+ Sign-Ins are essentially Facebook Connect for Google+, allowing you to not only sign-in to sites that support it, but also bring your Google+ profile data with you around the web.

The new Google+ Sign-In service will make it easier to share content from third-party sites (and within mobile apps). Exactly who will see the items you share on Google+ depends on the level of access you grant to an app, but in general you can share data with specific people on Google+, certain circles, or no one.

Here’s Google’s description of the actual sign-in process:

If you sign in to Gmail, YouTube or any other Google service, you can now use your existing credentials to sign in to apps outside of Google. Just review the Google+ permissions screen (outlining the data you’re sharing with the app, and the people who can see your activity), and you’re all set.

Google+ Sign-Ins aren’t just for web apps either — Google is pushing them for mobile apps as well. Starting today, when you sign in to a website with Google, you can install its mobile app on your Android device with a single click.

Google is also claiming that, because you can choose who to share things with, that it will mean less “social spam.” The Google+ Developer Blog even calls out Facebook’s “frictionless” sharing by name, saying “Google+ doesn’t let apps spray ‘frictionless’ updates all over the stream, so app activity will only appear when it’s relevant.” Of course one person’s “relevant” content is another’s spam, so take that claim with a bucket or two of salt.

Items you share from sites and apps using Google+ Sign-In show up as a slightly different “interactive” post in your friends’ Google+ stream. Clicking on these items will lead them to the app where they can listen to or buy or review the item you shared.

If you want to add Google+ Sign-In to your site or app, head on over to the new developer site and read through the documentation.

File Under: Social, Web Services

Catch a Nostalgic Glimpse of Geocities on Tumblr

Under Construction. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey.

The digital remnants of the long since deleted world of Geocities are slowly being reborn, page by page, on Tumblr.

One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age may be the best Tumblr blog we’ve seen, posting screenshots of old Geocities pages for a nostalgic look at the early web, back when everything was “Under Construction.”

For a brief time in the early ’90s Geocities was the web. And, for all its shortcomings, Geocities did nevertheless usher in much of what makes the web great — that anyone can create nearly anything.

The One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Tumblr project is part of a Geocities research blog by Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied. The Tumblr portion consists of automatically generated screenshots from the massive torrent of old Geocities homepages rescued by the Archive Team back in 2009. For posterity’s sake each post also carries the original URL (which obviously goes to a 404 page) and the date the page was last modified.

With Geocities long since deleted from Yahoo’s servers, browsing through One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age is as close as you’re likely to get to a trip down Geocities memory lane.

GitHub Personalizes Gists for Easier Code Sharing

This is not an Octocat. Image: GitHub.

GitHub has personalized the code sharing site’s “Gists” feature, changing the URL to include your GitHub username, rather than just a random, anonymous number.

The change means that you can easily get to a list of all your Gists by heading to<username>/.

Gists, which started off as a simple way to dump and share snippets and short pieces of reusable code (something akin to the older Pastebin), were recently upgraded to be full-fledged Git repos

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behind the scenes. That means Gists are automatically versioned, forkable and usable as Git repos, complete with diffs.

Now that Gists are considerably more than just Pastebin-style code snippets, it makes sense to offer users a quick and easy way to get to their Gists from anywhere thanks to a memorable URL.

The newly personalized Gists come with an automatic URL redirect. So if your Gist used to live at it will now be redirected to As some GitHub users point out on Hacker News, there’s a flaw in GitHub’s system that means anyone can register a numeric username and cause a Gist to redirect to the wrong page. Hopefully GitHub will fix that in the near future..

GitHub Supercharges ‘Gists’ for Quick and Easy Code Sharing

Image: GitHub.

Social coding giant GitHub continues to crank out the hits. The company recently made it easy to create new files through its web interface and now GitHub has launched a completely rewritten version of GitHub Gist.

Gists are a way to dump and share snippets and short pieces of reusable code — too short to bother creating a full-fledged Git repository, but something you’d like to save and share nonetheless — covering roughly the same use case as something like the much older Pastebin. Or at least that used to be the case.

The new gists are considerably more powerful. The rewrite actually turns gists into full Git repositories, so they are automatically versioned, forkable and usable as Git repos, complete with diffs.

Gists are also now searchable — complete with the ability to filter searches by language — and there’s a new Discover page as well.

Like normal GitHub repos, gists now offer the Ace code editor with its syntax highlighting and automatic indenting. While the Ace editor is nice, my favorite way to create gists is through editor plugins like this one for Vim, this one for Emacs or this one for Sublime Text 2.