Internet Sensation? Escaped Prisoner Teases Police With Facebook Photos

article-1238920-07B6C723000005DC-298_468x587_popupCraig Lynch, who escaped England’s Suffolk’s Hollesley Bay Prison in September, is using Facebook updates to brag about his freedom, posting a steady stream of status messages and rude photos to mock the authorities who have been after him for months. On Christmas, a tinsel-clad and shirtless Lynch (left) flicked off the camera with one hand, and in the other, held a freshly cooked turkey. “‘If any of you was doubtin my freedom. Here’s proof. How the f*** could i get my hands on a bird like this in jail. ha ha,” he wrote.

The British press are obviously eating up the stunt like Lynch probably scarfed that Christmas white meat, with both the Daily Mail and Times Online tracking his misadventures.

In one status update, Lynch asked, “In my situation where would YOU hide?” One responder noted, “You got the whole nation cheering you on.” Except, of course, the police, who are working with Facebook to find Lynch.

But for now, if you’re looking for new friends you can find Lynch here.


What Facebook Privacy Problem? Advertisers Yawn.

122109ATDbuddymediaPlenty of Web folks–me included–hollered loudly when Facebook overhauled its privacy policy this month. But the Web is made for shouting, so that makes it pretty hard to get a sense of how most people really feel.

For instance: Do advertisers, an increasingly important part of Facebook’s constituency, care about this stuff? I’ve been looking for signs that the network’s changes have made them skittish, a la the Beacon debacle of 2007. But so far, I haven’t seen anything.

That’s because there isn’t anything, says Mike Lazerow.

Lazerow runs Buddy Media, a start-up that makes most of its money helping big companies–from Bud Light to AMD (AMD) to the Twilight movie franchise–create and maintain “fan pages” on Facebook. These companies in turn spend lots of money advertising their pages to Facebook users and are now generating a substantial part of the network’s revenue. And Lazerow says none of the 125 brands he’s working with on Facebook have uttered a peep to him about the privacy changes so far.

“I know for sure that advertisers don’t care,” he tells me in the video interview embedded below.

The caveat here is that Lazerow isn’t a neutral observer: His company is pretty much dependent on advertisers embracing Facebook. Still, if marketers are worried, they’re expressing that very, very quietly.

Our discussion of Facebook’s privacy problem–or lack of a problem–kicks in around the nine-minute market of this clip. We spent the rest of our time talking about Buddy Media’s business, which Facebook more or less kick-started less than a year ago when it allowed brands to create their own fan pages.

To me, the economy tethered to fan pages seems based on a sort of circular logic: Brands are told they should create the pages–which are essentially what we used to call “Web sites”–so that they can advertise the pages on Facebook so they can drive people to use the pages.

But marketers seem to have embraced the idea, which is big news for Facebook, as well as entrepreneurs like Lazerow.

[ See post to watch video ]

Sarah Palin Responds To Her ‘Death Panel’ ‘Lie Of The Year’ Award

2069_galleryAs we noted yesterday, earlier this week Sarah Palin was handed the ignominious ‘lie of the year’ award by non-partisan political fact checkers for her “death panel” explanation of parts of the health care bill earlier this past summer. Last night on Countdown Lawrence O’Donnell wondered how Palin would ever recover from the shame of such an award, to which we said: ha! Because really, she’s Sarah Palin, this is barely a blip on the 2009 scale of Palin (anyway, she’s apparently too busy banning bloggers to concern herself with much else).

That said, now we have our answer. Palin (and/or the person in charge of her Facebook page) penned a long response has to this week’s health care advancements — or as she refers to it “Harry Reid’s Senate…shady backroom deals to ram through the Democrat health care take-over” — and gives a nod to her award, which Nancy Pelosi is suddenly responsible for handing out. Also, apparently lying is the new definition of metaphor.

Though Nancy Pelosi and friends have tried to call “death panels” the “lie of the year,” this type of rationing [now called the Independent Payment Advisory Board] – what the CBO calls “reduc[ed] access to care” and “diminish[ed] quality of care” – is precisely what I meant when I used that metaphor.

You can read her full response here. And the actual health care bill (as it stands now) here (scroll to the bottom).

Introducing Obama’s New Cyber Czar!

amd_howard_schmidt_headshotDepending on whether you are more worried about Facebook, Russian hackers, or the U.S. government playing the role of Big Brother this will either come as reassuring news, or be just plain worrisome. President Obama has just named a new Cybersecurity Coordinator, or in the lingo of Glenn Beck, a Cyber Czar!

Here’s the email that landed in my inbox early this morning (which I at first mistook based on the subject line ‘Security in the Digital Age’, to be a missive from Nigeria).

The White House, Washington

Dear Friend,

Cybersecurity matters to all of us. Protecting the internet is critical to our national security, public safety and our personal privacy and civil liberties. It’s also vital to President Obama’s efforts to strengthen our country, from the modernization of our health care system to the high-tech job creation central to our economic recovery.

The very email you are reading underscores our dependence on information technologies in this digital age, which is why it seemed like a fitting way to announce that the President has chosen Howard Schmidt to be the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator. Howard will have the important responsibility of orchestrating the many important cybersecurity activities across the government.

Howard is one of the world’s leading authorities on computer security, with some 40 years of experience in government, business and law enforcement. Learn more about Howard’s background and approach to cybersecurity:

Watch the Video

Howard will have regular access to the President and serve as a key member of his National Security Staff. He will also work closely with his economic team to ensure that our cybersecurity efforts keep the Nation secure and prosperous.

Moving forward we will use, this email program and our other communications tools to keep you posted about our progress in this important area.


John O. Brennan
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

P.S. You can play an important role in cybersecurity as well. Learn more about the issue and steps you can take to ensure your own security.

A bit more on Schmidt, who may or may not now be the person closely following your Twitter. He has had a 40-year career including local and federal government service, as well as a post as vice chairman of President George W. Bush’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board. He also was “for a short time an adviser to the FBI and worked at the National Drug Intelligence Center” and is a former eBay and Microsoft executive. Also? He said yes to the job after “a rocky selection process that dragged on for months, as others turned the job down.” Hard to imagine why.

For some strange reason I might feel better about this selection had they plucked some twenty-something from Silicon Valley (maybe because this picture looks like it came out of some Nixon-era archive). Or not. Either way, it’s probably good someone is there to handle the turning on and off of the Internet, perhaps he can keep the Russian hackers away from Twitter from now on.

A Very Short List: Publishers That Have Actually Told Google to Take a Hike

122109ATDgooglenewsPublishers love to gripe about Google. But they almost never, ever, do the one thing that could put their money where their mouth is: Tell the search giant to leave them out of its results.

If you follow the media-versus-Google meme, you know this instinctively. But here are some numbers that spell it out: Of the 25,000-plus sources cataloged by Google News, “less than 100″ have opted out of the index, says Google’s Josh Cohen, who runs the service.

It is theoretically possible, of course, that more publications have opted out of Google’s main search results than out of the narrower Google News product. But I doubt it.

I also doubt that we’re going to see a significant number of publishers opt out of Google (GOOG) in the future, despite noisy saber-rattling from media outlets–most notably the Associated Press and News Corp. (NWS), which owns this site.

That said, if we are going to see some movement, it will be in the next few months. The AP, for instance, has a licensing deal with Google that runs out in the very near future.

I chatted Friday with Cohen (see video interview below) about the negotiations, and he gave me the polite equivalent of a “no comment.” But from what I can tell, the two sides remain pretty far apart on just about every point of contention.

Some other items of note from my conversation with Cohen:

  • A reminder that even publishers that put their stuff behind a paywall don’t want to cut themselves off from Google, which is absolutely true. Just ask News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal, which has gone through considerable effort and expense to boost its presence in search results.
  • Even though Google is already integrating “real-time” search results from Twitter (with Facebook and MySpace on the way), those results have not worked their way into Google News, and Cohen and his team are still trying to figure out the best way to do that.
  • I got an English-language explanation of the “Living Stories” project Google is working on with the Washington Post (WPO) and the New York Times (NYT).

Apologies: I still have not mastered vagaries of audio for Web video, or at least for our Web video publishing system. You’re probably going to want to turn the volume down during the introduction in this clip and then turn it back up once the interview starts.

[ See post to watch video ]