Safe Social Networks

Recently we learned that Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytics to access the personal information of 50 million users to be used for political purposes.

While Facebook is a great platform for news and “public” resources (genealogy network groups, apps, archives and resource pages along with other research pages and groups), it’s not a safe place to share personal information. Even something as innocuous as celebrating a birthday can turn into identity theft. Fortunately there are safer alternatives for sharing news, photos and other information.

A note posted in my MeWe timeline using the iPhone app.

First on the list is the MeWe social network (https://mewe.com). With MeWe you own your content and you control how you interact with other members and what level of privacy you want to maintain.

MeWe supports timelines, private chatting and groups. Safely share photos, videos, documents, voice messages and more. You can access MeWe using your desktop browser, smart phone or tablet (iOS and Android).

With MeWe you can create private groups for family and friends as well as topic groups. When a post is shared to a group only members of that group will see it. This means you can safely post your travel photos to your family and friends while on the road – something you would never do on Facebook.

Want to learn more? Get the details at https://MeWe.com/faq.

Another interesting option is Famicity – a family-based network with a focus on privacy. It has a look and feel that seems more like a scrapbook than a social network. This platform is focused on family – present and past. You can create and share photo albums, stories, videos, news and scanned ephemera. There is a family tree component which shows how you are related to others and serves as an index to view the entries related to that person.

With Famicity you control who can see that content. The social side kicks in when family and friends add their comments, photos and stories.

Famicity is free to use and your content will never be shared with a third party. They are planning to add “premium” features which will cost you to use. Learn more at https://www.famicity.com.

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A sample post in Posthaven

Although it isn’t a social network, the Posthaven blog platform is a great way to share news, photos, birthdays, special events and more. There are a number of features that make Posthaven a great family tool. The primary goal of Posthaven’s developers is to create a service which will be there for the long run. In order to do this, it will cost you to use Posthaven, but the cost is minimal. For $5.00 a month, you can create up to ten blogs. Even if you quit paying, your existing content will remain on your site (unless you decide to remove it). Posthaven supports both public and private blogs.

In the Posthaven world there are three types of users – publishers, subscribers and visitors. Publishers post content on the site. This includes photos and videos. Publishing is as easy as sending an email message. Every Posthaven blog has a unique address. Publishers create an email message and send it to the blog’s address. The subject of the email becomes the title of the post and the message becomes the content. Photos, links and videos can be included in the email to be published with the text content. On public blogs, any visitor will see your content, but on private blogs a password is needed to see the post. Each post has a comment form making it possible to start a conversation online.

Subscribers have posts delivered to them via email. They will receive all the content included in the post. They can even add comments just by replying to the message/post with their notes. This subscriber service is especially useful for family members who have trouble remembering passwords.

To learn more about Posthaven, visit the site at https://posthaven.com/.

Facebook Alternatives

Looking for a bit of privacy in your social network? You’ve got options.

This week we learned that Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytics to access the personal information in 50 million users to be used for political purposes. While Facebook is a great platform for news and “public” resources (genealogy network groups, apps, archives and resource pages along with other research pages and groups), it’s not a safe place to share personal information. Even something as…

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Posthaven Primer

Posthaven sample

If you are looking for an easy and affordable blogging platform, Posthaven is a good place to start. If you can send an email message, you can post an article at Posthaven. The example you see above was created and published from the porch of a restaurant using a mobile phone. I took the picture with my phone, popped it into an email message, added a short note and emailed it to my Posthaven blog. The subject line of the email message became the title for this blog post. And, within minutes, this post was delivered to my family in Florida via their email inbox. Yes, it’s that easy!

For $5.00/month you can build up to ten blogs with the pledge that Posthaven will never be acquired or shut down. You may say you have no inclination to manage ten sites, but you will quickly find you can use your Posthaven sites in many useful ways. For example, you may want to set up a blog just for your family history. You can also set up a private blog for your family to share news and events that aren’t appropriate on public social networks. Obviously, you won’t want to post vacation pictures on Facebook. That’s an invitation to criminals looking for unoccupied homes. With a Posthaven private family blog, only the people you add as subscribers will see your photos.

The Posthaven Primer will show you how to get started. You can read it right here and you can download a PDF copy to keep for reference.

 

Trip Journals

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Taking a trip? Add some photo-editing apps on your phone to build more than just a photo album of your travels. In this example, the photo was turned into a painted card with an added caption. The photo was edited using the Brushstroke app [iOS – $3.99] to get the painted effect, then sent to the Supermatic app [iOS – $1.99] to choose an appropriate card style and add the caption. You can share your finished creations individually via email and social media. You can also use the Blurb app [iOS – free] to build a print photo book using the “souped-up” photo graphics you created with Supermatic.

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Email it in with a Posthaven blog.

The Posthaven blog platform is a great way to share your travel adventures just with family and friends. Posting is as simple as emailing your photo(s) along with any comments you want to include. Set up your family and friends as site subscribers and each new post will be delivered to their inbox. You can also make your travel blog private so that only those you’ve given access will see your posts and pics. Posthaven will cost you $5.00/month to use, but that gives you up to 10 blog sites.

journal entry

Don’t forget the Day One journal app [iOS – free] or [Mac – free]. The apps are free but you will need a premium subscription [$3.99/mo or $34.99/yr] to take advantage of the premium features – unlimited photo storage, unlimited journals, cloud sync to all your Day One apps, encrypted cloud storage and 25% discount for any books created using their printing service.

Other features include an impressive collection of sharing options including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress and Evernote along with the ability to save an entry as PDF to iBooks. Of course, you can easily email any journal entry to anyone.

Today we have a broad range of apps and services making it easy to document your travel adventures. Not only will you have your own memories but you will also be able to save them for future generations to enjoy. See which options suit you best.

Build A Family Network

If you’re like us, you’ve got family spread across the country and maybe even overseas. Although the costs to travel mean we don’t get together as often as we would like, that doesn’t mean we haven’t found creative ways to stay involved with far-away family and friends. Facebook has revolutionized how we can “keep up” with each other, but it does have serious privacy and security issues. I’m not about to share vacation photos on Facebook because that sends an open invitation to crooks that my house is just waiting for them to help themselves to my stuff. Personal news like new babies and deaths in the family can alert con artists of potential marks. I still enjoy Facebook. I’m just not putting much personal stuff out there.

Our family has been building its own family communications network. Some of it was intentionally set up, but a lot of it has just happened. For example, we have used Skype – a lot – to make video calls. It’s great to visually participate in birthday parties and other special events even when we can’t be there. Today, there are a growing number of web-enabled televisions offering both a high-def webcam add-on and Skype access. Imagine that same birthday party on a big screen tv! Skype supports free group calls too. Up to ten users can participate in a group call – audio or video. Skype’s text messenger component can be used in conjunction with an audio or video call to share photos or files while you’re talking.

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FaceTime image courtesy Apple.com

As more and more in our family have moved to iThings, Skype is being augmented with FaceTime. We can even FaceTime directly to the grandkids through their iPod Touches. Although FaceTime doesn’t support group calls, the combination of FaceTime and the Messages app makes it easy to get “status updates” just about any time. And, while nothing’s totally secure or private, it’s a much better option than Facebook.

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We also use Posthaven to maintain a family news service [see article]. It functions as both a mailing list and a family journal and is so easy even the most digitally-challenged can participate. Here’s where birth announcements, family news and vacation pics are shared. Because posting is done via email, it’s a mobile-friendly platform that works well for posting vacation updates. Posthaven will cost $5.00 a month to use, but each account supports up to ten blogs.

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For our photo archive, we use Flickr. You can define who can see your photos and Flickr has a group feature that lets a group of Flickr users share selected photos to one or more groups. Flickr supports private groups which are only visible to group members. One of the nice things about using a group is that group members can see all the photos shared to their group regardless of the privacy settings the owner set for them. This means I can post my current vacation photos privately, yet members of our Flickr family group will be able to see any of them that I share with the group. A free Flickr account includes up to 1 terabyte of photo storage (the equivalent of approximately 560,000 photos) and saves your photos at their original size and resolution. A “pro” subscription costs $25/year includes ad-free browsing and sharing along with a Desktop Uploader to automatically upload new photos to your account. Not only is this a great photo-sharing platform, but it’s also a delightful off-site storage option for our photo collection as well.

Our network combines easy apps and platforms with a comfortable level of privacy and security. It allows everyone to participate regardless of their digital skills. Best of all, it allows us to stay involved with our families both near and far. Yes, we are keeping “local” copies of the blog posts, photos and messages, but that is part of our disaster plan to insure these goodies will be around long after we’re gone.

Ain’t technology great!