Consumer Issues
The best reporting on Facebook and your privacy

With Facebook passing the one-billion user mark, ProPublica have rounded up the best reads on the company and privacy issues

Facebook hit the one-billion user mark last week, a little more than two years after it reached 500 million users. To mark the occasion, we've rounded up some of the best reads on Facebook and privacy.
Facebook Raises Fears With Ad Tracking, The Financial Times, September 2012
Facebook has been working with a company called Datalogix to track how often people who see ads for a given product on Facebook end up buying it in real-world stores. Datalogix does this by matching up the email addresses tied to users' Facebook accounts with troves of email addresses and other data it has purchased, much of which comes from customer loyalty cards and other programs. The company has data on 70 million American households from more than 1,000 retailers, including drug stores and grocers.
Facebook Sells More Access to Members, The Wall Street Journal, October 2012 
In addition to its work with Datalogix, Facebook has started letting advertisers target users based on their email addresses, their phone numbers and the other websites they've been visiting. Gokul Rajaram, who oversees Facebook's ad products, said the changes were made "in a way that respects user privacy."
Last week, a Polish startup called posted a video to the website Hacker News that seemed to show that including link to a website — say, Mashable — in a private message to another Facebook user would include the "Like" counter on Mashable's website. Facebook confirmed to The Next Web that it was doing this, though it said it was not revealing any of users' private information.
When Robert Collins applied for a job with the Maryland Department of Corrections, the organization required him to give them his Facebook password. The Department of Corrections backed down after the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter calling the practice "a frightening and illegal invasion of privacy," but it hasn't stopped elsewhere. California became the latest state to ban it last month.
Why Facebook Is After Your Kids, The New York Times Magazine, October 2011 
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which bars websites from gathering data about children under 13, means that 12-year-olds can't legally use Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg wants to change that. "That will be a fight we take on at some point," he said. He may not be successful. The Federal Trade Commission pushed new rules last month to make it harder for companies to track children online.
Germans Reopen Investigation on Facebook Privacy, The New York Times, August 2012 
In August, the German data protection commissioner in Hamburg — yes, the Germans have a data protection commissioner — reopened an investigation into Facebook's huge database of human faces culled from users' photos. (Johannes Caspar, the commissioner, had suspended the inquiry in June but reopened it when Facebook failed to cooperate.) The database is a component of facial-recognition technology that allows Facebook to automatically detect users' friends' faces in the photos they upload to Facebook. The company has since agreed to get rid of it for users who live in the European Union.
The Face of Facebook, The New Yorker, September 2010 
Jose Antonio Vargas's profile of Zuckerberg details some of his views on privacy, which the Facebook founder calls a "third-rail issue" online. "A lot of people who are worried about privacy and those kinds of issues will take any minor misstep we take and turn it into as big a deal as possible," he said.
Facebook is now required to respect users' privacy and undergo regular privacy audits for two decades, thanks to a settlement between the Federal Trade Commission and the social network last November. It also requires that Facebook pay $16,000 a day for each violation of the agreement. In a blog post the day the settlement was announced, Zuckerberg apologized for making "a bunch of mistakes" on privacy issues, including its now-defunct Beacon advertising platform and a number of changes made in 2009.
Facebook to Target Ads Based on App Usage, The Wall Street Journal, July 2012 
Facebook is also taking steps to track users on mobile devices, likely the next frontier for online privacy. "The social network is tracking the apps that people use through its popular Facebook Connect feature," the Journal reports, "which lets users log in to millions of websites and apps as varied as, LinkedIn and Yelp with their Facebook identity." Facebook uses that data to help target ads. When the Journal's story ran in July, the company was also considering tracking what people do on the apps. (We reached out to Facebook to see what the decided, but they did not respond to requests for comment.)


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Nifty Market View: Volatility likely to persist

The trend remains up despite the correction and the first couple of days of next week should make the short-term picture clearer 


S&P Nifty close: 5,676.05




Market Trend
Short Term: Up                       Medium Term: Up                        Long Term: Down
After a flat opening for the week, the Nifty sold off immediately as the bulls remained under pressure throughout the week, barring Thursday where we saw a smart one day rebound. The effect was a result of the overbought nature of the weekly oscillators. If one has to take out some positivity from last week’s correction, the Nifty did not break the low of the week ended 28 September 2012 (5,638 points). Volumes were higher as compared to the previous week as the Nifty closed 70 points (-1.23%) in the red. The histogram MACD which is above the median level moved lower indicating that even though the bulls remain in control, they cannot allow the prices to drift like this for too long.
The sectoral indices which outperformed were CNX FMCG (+2.02%), CNX Pharma (+1.63%) and CNX MNC (+0.06%) while the underperformers were CNX Realty (-4.47%), CNX Energy (-3.05%), CNX Media (-3.04%), CNX IT (-2.96%), CNX PSU Bank (-2.17%), CNX Auto (-2.09%) and CNX Service (-1.83%). 
Here are some key levels to watch out for this week 
 As long as the S&P Nifty stays below 5,688 points (pivot) the bulls will be under pressure.
 Support levels in declines are pegged at 5,624 and 5,573 points. 
 Resistance levels on the upside are pegged at 5,740 and 5,803 points.
Some Observations
1. The Nifty has completed the 61.8% retracement level of the decline from 6,338-4,770 points pegged at 5,740.
2. The 78.6% retracement level of the fall from 6,338-4,770 points is pegged at 5,951 points, which also coincides with the top of the channel (in brown).
3. The Nifty is now moving within a sharp up sloping channel (in blue), support from which is pegged around 5,490 points and resistance is pegged around 5,898 points, this week.
4. We have remained above the previous weekly top of 5,629 points (24 February 2012) which is a sign of strength as long as it stays above it.
5. The weekly chart above also shows a channel (in brown) the resistance line of which is pegged around 5,970 points. This should be closely watched in the weeks ahead.
6. We have completed 89 weeks (Fibonacci number) from the top of 6338 points (05 November 2010) hence one has to keep a close watch whether the market starts correcting from around current or slightly higher levels.
7. The volumes were significantly higher as compared to the previous week, which was also the case a week prior to the previous significant top of 5,629 points (24 February 2012). Hence one needs to be alert for the slightest sign of a break of support.
We got a small dip after the Nifty broke through 5,694 points but it got support at the low of 5,638 points (28 September 2012) as well as the weekly pivot support which was pegged at 5,630 points last week. Therefore this 5,638 points level assumes significance from a short-term perspective. A decisive breach of this in close could result in the Nifty sliding down to 5,586, 5,515 or in a pessimistic scenario to 5,445 points which are the Fibonacci retracement levels of the rise from 5,215-5,815 points. This week should make the picture clear as to whether last week was just a correction and we resume the uptrend or the correction goes deeper which will be signaled by a decisive break of 5,638 points. Till then this choppiness and volatility will be there, which is treacherous for short-term traders. Wait patiently for the market to show its hand. The trend remains up despite the correction and the first couple of days of next week should make the short-term picture clearer.
(Vidur Pendharkar works as a consultant technical analyst & chief strategist at




5 years ago


As predicted, the Indian government has started its divestment drive. The govt. is behaving like the corrupt and bankrupt zamindar in a Tagore novel, who has to go to the old r a n d i (prostitute) to satisfy his private needs because the younger fresher one is too expensive. As outlined earlier, this is part of its plan. It is talking up the markets, announcing reforms that can never be developed on, and then selling its paper. It will recover Rs 40000 cr. from divestment and Rs. 30000 cr. from spectrum auctions. They say, the money will be applied towards the deficit. In reality it will be used to fund further sops and giveaways in the next budget. The deficit will be kept at 6 % of GDP and they will take their chances with the rating agencies like S and P later. SELL ALL STOCK. ( post below)

India. Reforms. Really?

Much has been made of the “burst of reforms” unleashed by Finance Minister Chidambaram in recent weeks. The stock market has rallied and animal spirits it seems are back. Everybody’s babbling about how the UPA, after eight years in power, has found religion ie “reforms”.

The market is now at 21 times price to earnings (trailing twelve month free float adjusted as per the National Stock Exchange). Once more the mood swings violently. More interestingly the India VIX , the fear index is at 3 year lows of 15. This is usually an indicator of complacency, and historically such lows have signified a massive sell off. The combination of the stretched price to earnings and the VIX means the market is ripe for a big sell off. My two bit as an Ivy educated fund manager in Bombay who has worked internationally on some of the world’s major structural adjustment and economic reform programs.

In reality, the reforms amount to bureaucratic tinkerings with percentages – of a sort that only tax mavens and accountants can comprehend. Witholding taxes go down by a percentage point or two. FII margin percentages change. Service tax percentages for insurance companies change. Now an attempt's been made to increase the percentages foreigners can hold in insurance and pensions. (This last will never pass through Parliament given the unanimous opposition to it). Blah Blah Blah.

The Indian economy, in fact, requires Parashurama’s ax and not the surgeon’s scalpel. The reference is to the mythical woodcutter of Indian mythology who wields a massive axe when needed. Wholesale violence will have to be committed on large areas of India’s economy with Parashurama’s axe, if we are to resume a decent growth rate.

The government had no choice but to unleash this wave of tinkering and call it “reform”. It is trying to keep the capital markets buoyant because it needs to sell or “chipkao” (i.e. stick, as we say in the business) close to Rs 40,000 crores worth of equity. This with spectrum auctions, hopefully plug the budget deficit a little by March. More crucially, it will also free up resources for massive election giveaways in next March’s budget. This is especially needed if the Food Security Bill –Madame Sonia’s chosen strategy for reelection – is to be passed.

Real reforms for India will not happen for a long time. These include financial sector reform, and an end to the financial repression signified by the statutory liquidity ratio. Privatization of the banking system that’s put an end to the ridiculous spectacle of 75 % of the banking system being owned by the government in a market economy. Bankruptcy and exit laws will have to be introduced. Labour market liberalization and the freedom to hire and fire labour will have to be allowed.

The collapsed state of Indian cities will have to be addressed by building 30 to 40 cities to accommodate massive rural urban migration. Land acquisition which is impossible now will have to be addressed. This list does not even include the sector changes required in real estate and infrastructure and sugar, and so on and so on. None of this is happening ever, it seems.

Everybody’s babbling in the media about how crucial the February budget is going to be for the UPA because it will be packed with big ticket sops like the Food Security Bill. Remember game theory however. It is crucial to take your opponent’s reaction into account. The Opposition also knows that the budget will be crucial to the UPA’s reelection chances ! Why then will they allow the UPA to present the budget at all. Especially when they have the numbers and the government is already on life support and in a minority. !!!

The government therefore, will, in all likelihood, fall in November-December, during the winter session of Parliament. Elections will take place in March-April as India needs the school system for a general election. This will allow the Opposition the chance to deny the government’s attempt to pass a budget full of sops and giveaways. The February budget will consequently be a vote on account. This scenario will suit all parties except the Congress and hence it will happen.

Is the market discounting the possibility that in a few weeks, all these guys PC etc. etc. will be gone ? Looking at the way its going up, I think not.

The logical conclusion also is that this is the high point of the markets move this year. India has gone from having the most incompetent FM (Pranab) to the most cunning FM (Chidambaram). The later is deliberately doing all he can to talk up markets to implement his plan. There is little need to oblige him and his plans of using the stock market as a financing vehicle, by buying high and losing one’s hard earned capital.

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