Social Media & Privacy: What is Your Digital Reputation?

Social Media & Privacy: What is Your Digital Reputation? | Sharon Black: TeleFuture Intl.

Do social networks mean the end of individual privacy?  Currently, it seems so – at least for now.  That is what many users of Facebook, Second City, Twitter and other social media have learned, through embarrassing and devastating experiences.
Facebook , the world’s largest and most used social media site, started just six years ago, in February 2004. As of this year, in July 2010, 1 out of every 14 people in the world is a user or member.  With over 500 million users, whatever Facebook does or does not do to protect its members, will change the face of privacy everywhere.  It is therefore, an important company to watch when concerned about user privacy in today’s Internet Age.

While it is agreed that sharing small talk, breezy updates and recent photos is an excellent way to stay in touch with family and friends, users expect to have some control over who sees and uses that information.  While much, but not all, of Facebook data is willingly shared by users, the level of protection concerning who sees that information has become a concern.  Specific criticisms include:

Criticisms of Facebook’s Privacy Policies

  1. Data Collection.  Facebook’s financial model makes the service free to users, but collects data from user interaction on the site and sells that information to advertisers.  (Yahoo, Google and Microsoft do also.)
  2.  Data mining.  Facebook searches newspapers, blogs, Instant msgs, other sites, etc. for information on its users  — a concern that this is unwarranted and a potential means of unauthorized surveillance.
  3. 3rd Party Platform Developers.  Facebook has agreements with 3rd Party Platform developers that allow tracking users as they browse the Internet.
  4. Ownership of/Control of Information. The networks become the “owners” of users’ personal information – the individuals lose control over its use, accuracy, retention, etc.
  5. Privacy Policies:  Facebook and other social media sites have made changes to their privacy policies, but these have generally been found to be confusing, inadequate, and ineffective.
  6. Introduction of changes.  Upgrades and/or changes to the system are made with little or no notice to users and no “opt out” or “I don’t want this” options.
  7. Unintended Release of Information.  Changes in the system that have unintended consequences.  For example, in May 2010, Facebook made changes to its privacy policy that exposed more personal data to a wider range of marketers.
  8. Poor Customer Service/Support.  Facebook’s Customer Service is automated, so users cannot speak with someone to resolve issues such as release of privacy, closure of accounts, “opt out” provisions, instructions for privacy settings, etc.
  9. Identity Theft.  In Oct. 2007, BBC’s “Watchdog” program demonstrated the of ease to using Facebook for identity theft.
  10. Users are Unable to Close Account.  They can “deactivate” it, but doing so does not remove the account content from Facebook’s servers.  That information is retained indefinitely.  There is no “automatic or timed deletion.”
  11. Social Media & Privacy: What is Your Digital Reputation? | Sharon Black: TeleFuture Intl.

    Do social networks mean the end of individual privacy?  Currently, it seems so – at least for now.  That is what many users of Facebook, Second City, Twitter and other social media have learned, through embarrassing and devastating experiences.

    Facebook , the world’s largest and most used social media site, started just six years ago, in February 2004. As of this year, in July 2010, 1 out of every 14 people in the world is a user or member.  With over 500 million users, whatever Facebook does or does not do to protect its members, will change the face of privacy everywhere.  It is therefore, an important company to watch when concerned about user privacy in today’s Internet Age.

    While it is agreed that sharing small talk, breezy updates and recent photos is an excellent way to stay in touch with family and friends, users expect to have some control over who sees and uses that information.  While much, but not all, of Facebook data is willingly shared by users, the level of protection concerning who sees that information has become a concern.  Specific criticisms include:

    Criticisms of Facebook’s Privacy Policies

    1. Data Collection.  Facebook’s financial model makes the service free to users, but collects data from user interaction on the site and sells that information to advertisers.  (Yahoo, Google and Microsoft do also.)
    2.  Data mining.  Facebook searches newspapers, blogs, Instant msgs, other sites, etc. for information on its users  — a concern that this is unwarranted and a potential means of unauthorized surveillance.
    3. 3rd Party Platform Developers.  Facebook has agreements with 3rd Party Platform developers that allow tracking users as they browse the Internet.
    4. Ownership of/Control of Information. The networks become the “owners” of users’ personal information – the individuals lose control over its use, accuracy, retention, etc.
    5. Privacy Policies:  Facebook and other social media sites have made changes to their privacy policies, but these have generally been found to be confusing, inadequate, and ineffective.
    6. Introduction of changes.  Upgrades and/or changes to the system are made with little or no notice to users and no “opt out” or “I don’t want this” options.
    7. Unintended Release of Information.  Changes in the system that have unintended consequences.  For example, in May 2010, Facebook made changes to its privacy policy that exposed more personal data to a wider range of marketers.
    8. Poor Customer Service/Support.  Facebook’s Customer Service is automated, so users cannot speak with someone to resolve issues such as release of privacy, closure of accounts, “opt out” provisions, instructions for privacy settings, etc.
    9. Identity Theft.  In Oct. 2007, BBC’s “Watchdog” program demonstrated the of ease to using Facebook for identity theft.
    10. Users are Unable to Close Account.  They can “deactivate” it, but doing so does not remove the account content from Facebook’s servers.  That information is retained indefinitely.  There is no “automatic or timed deletion.”