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Facebook image published in Times Union

– Why is it that everyone caught up in a scandal has a damning Facebook page?

The Buffalo area state trooper at the center of a prostitution investigation has a bunch of questionable photos of himself, reports the Albany Times Union:

(Titus) Taggart’s Facebook page depicts several photographs in which he is holding what appears to be bottles of alcohol. One photo depicts a sexually charged cartoon rendering of a woman holding a gun and wearing a police uniform augmented with lingerie. The depiction shows the woman standing in front of a heart that is adorned with yellow police tape and the words “busted.”

Taggart and two Rochester area troopers are suspended.

A Forbes columnist advises people to protect their pages before getting caught up in a scandal. Hey, you never know. Taggart’s page has been taken down, but not before the Times Union grabbed every photo.

Trust me, the privacy settings are not that hard!

– Kodak released its first-quarter earnings, which show a loss of $366 million. I hope to have more perspective later in the day. So far, analysts have some questions.

– Medley Centre must be “demalled.” The Democrat and Chronicle has a great update (or non-update) on what’s happening with the property. The developer’s plans are on the right track, but he doesn’t appear to have financing.

– Irondequoit police alerted the community to a man in a black van who approached a girl and offered her a ride. What a kidnapper stereotype! I often wonder if these reports are fabricated or exaggerated by children scared by years of stranger danger training.

Ever notice how these men who allegedly approach children almost never materialize? When was the last time a kid was snatched by a scary man in a van around here? (Never…) Kids are going to come in contact with adults and some of them are creeps. Just move on, like this girl did.

Update: Irondequoit police found the scary van driver! He’s not a would-be kidnapper, after all.

– The Democrat and Chronicle has a new food and drink section called Flavors and a business section called ROCNext.

People like food porn.

Recently, I searched online for a “swim pedometer,” something to count distance and calories. The next day, I read an article on the Syracuse Post-Standard website and noticed a whole bunch of ads for swimming gear.

Coincidence? I think not.

Websites have long been using data from our posts, searches and browsing history to tailor our experiences. Facebook is the king of all data mining, deciding which of our friends to highlight in the News Feed and which advertisements to show us.

But many people think Google has gone too far in revamping its privacy policy. Here’s an excerpt of the policy:

…there’s so much more that Google can do to help you by sharing more of your information with … well, you…We can provide more relevant ads…We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day. Or ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends’ names, are accurate because you’ve typed them before. People still have to do way too much heavy lifting, and we want to do a better job of helping them out.

An entertaining column in the Washington Post asks Google not to be “creepy” and said this feels like the loss of anonymity on the Internet:

Ten years ago, if your mailman had demanded to follow you around, taking note of all your appointments, giving you directions and asking to see all the pictures you took and videos you watched, “Look,” you might have said, “you’re very good, but can you stick to delivering mail unless I ask you to do otherwise? You already read all my letters and send me ads for enhancement services that I did not know I required. And this is getting a little disturbing.” Even worse if it’s the silent man at the library who looks up esoterica for you.

PC Magazine points out Google’s new privacy policy doesn’t spell out new practices as much as it is a wake up call. Google already collects a lot of information about users. Google will now collect our information as we jump across services, from Google mail to Google search to Google Plus. It will have a fuller picture of our identities.

Google says it won’t give our information to advertisers and we will be able to adjust our privacy settings. But you can’t really “opt out” unless you never log into Google services. I’m not convinced there are alternatives that won’t do exactly the same thing. When we go online, we are automatically placing a terrifying amount of trust in the websites we visit.

Either Google is pioneering a truly fantastic way to integrate the Internet into our lives or this is some scary stuff. Maybe it’s both.