Accidental Geography on Facebook

I'll admit to a certain vanity with Facebook: I've been trying to build an audience for my personal blog, using a Facebook page to import blog entries and inviting just about everyone who's a friend to follow the page. Facebook very nicely provides "insights" (analytics) on interactions with the page - number of comments, ratings, and other feedback.

Today I noticed that the "Cayman Islands" were the top country for interaction with my page. I have no friends (that I know of) who call the Cayman Islands home, so I poked around and found the page comment that generated the trend. Sure enough, it's a US-based friend vacationing in the Caymans (his public content conveys the same information). So commenting on a Facebook page creates an indirect trail to whatever IP address is reported at the time.

IP addresses are a terrible mechanism for assuring location (due to proxies, carriers, firewalls and other aggregation/translation points) but in this case, they are a fair proxy for "not at home." You could argue that if I'm using Facebook on vacation (or while traveling) I'm disclosing a signficant amount of personal information anyway, but there are many Facebook users who hide their home geographic information and by extension, might want to hide their mobile geographic information as well. The fact that source IP address trumps "home" for determining interaction sources means that Facebook is at least ignoring the intent of, if not the exact letter of, these user preferences when it comes to clouding geography.

Comments:

I'm still finding that Search Engine rankings matter a great deal when driving new readers, all of whom could end up being return visitors.

The new one is all the traffic twitter is driving (I'm using bit.ly for URL shortening, because I like the metrics it provides).

Disqus now captures tweets and retweets as well as Facebook comments and conversation. Because of my Roller / Disqus plug-in code my comments now include all the tweets, retweets and other social net conversation occurring about a given article, which I think is pretty cool because I don't have to scrabble around the web looking for who and what is being said about a given blog post.

Here's an example: http://blogs.sun.com/eclectic/entry/reasons_projects_and_programmes_fail

I haven't seen a lot of Facebook comments on my posts, but I haven't been using it a lot, I wonder how much it would capture if you were to add the Disqus plug-in here?

Posted by Wayne Horkan on July 23, 2009 at 03:10 AM EDT #

Along the same line, Robin Wilton's comments:

http://futureidentity.blogspot.com/2009/07/ip-pii-v-pii.html

Posted by Carolyn on July 24, 2009 at 04:48 AM EDT #

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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