Privacy on Social Networks

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Privacy on Social Networks

Tasdiq A. 11/4/2010

The privacy issues surrounding social networking sites are nothing new by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems that many people have mismatched expectations when it comes to privacy and social networks. Social

Network Sites (SNS) are websites that allow users to upload information to a public profile, create a list of online friends, and browse the profiles of other users of the SNS. The websites have membership rules and community standards. Users disclose identity-relevant information via their profile to others. This information is referential, directly referring to a person, or attributive, describing attributes to the data subject. Although most laws and regulations restrict the access to referential information, attributive information is not protected as such. However, the aggregation of large amounts of attributive information on SNS profiles poses new privacy risks, disclose identity-relevant information via their profile to others. Also, the privacy options in social networking sites do not work out in the way they are supposed to do.

Keep your private life private!
What does social network do? In real life, you have a circle of your friends. But what about their friends? And the friends of the friends of your friends? You can get to know people from literally any part of the world. That means you are sharing information with them. And that also means you are sharing a lot of information that you don't want to share! Information spreads faster through a Social Network Site than through a real‐life network. Information might be disclosed to a group of people unexpectedly, because the digital information is easily copied, can be stored indefinitely and is searchable. It especially harms users when information travels through different social spheres, and ends up with people whom it was not intended for. People have been fired, missed out on job interviews and academic opportunities, and been suspended from school for instant messages, wall posts and other messages they mistakenly thought were like private real world conversations with friends. Do not post anything in social networks that you won't want to shout out in public. You can send private emails for that, but NEVER social networks. Social network is a place where you never know whom you are sharing private information with unless you yourself created the network! So be careful, stay safe!

Applications and external links on social networking sites
Have you ever used the 'applications' of facebook, myspace or any other social networking sites? Did you read the policies of that site about those applications? In most cases, the games or applications owners have access to almost all of your information that you provided in your social networking account. Moreover, they may also use them for commercial purposes. Some of these applications may offer you to participate in a survey to earn 'credits' or virtual 'money'. You might, for example, earn some quick Farmville cash by answering a brief survey. Sounds a lot better than using your credit card, right? But you're probably safer breaking out your wallet. TechCruch cites one instance in which players could win currency if they filled out such a survey. At the end of the survey, they would be asked to provide their phone number so that they can receive a PIN via text to get the results. Once they've entered that PIN into the site, they're subscribed to a horoscope service for $9.99 per month--something they won't know unless they diligently read all the fine print. Ouch. The victims could immediately try to cancel the subscription, of course, but they could still end up being charged. Unwanted charges aren't the only thing players are susceptible to: Social networking games make you a target for viruses and hackers as well. You will find a couple of threads in Zynga's community forums in which moderators warn users against accepting any gifts...
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