Today everybody is talking about the threat social networks are to our privacy. But do we really understand what is happening here? What is privacy? How do we protect it? Are Facebook an Co. really so dangerous or are we, once again, just challenged with the speed of technological evolution? The answer lies somewhere between all these statements and it is nor black nor white. I tried to answer this question in an essay I did for my Master in Digital Marketing at IE Business School. The full document is available on Scribd for you to read under “Are Social Networks a Threat to Privacy or sit the Notion of Privacy Changing”. In short, here is what came out from my research (all sources can be found in the full document).
With the rising of the Web 2.0 and its sharing tools people have been enabled to create content and not just consume it. Users are now active players in the “web of participation” creating and uploading content, setting-up profiles on various social networks and sharing personal data. This proactive sharing of information is at the heart of the concerns about privacy.
Privacy is a notion that has evolved over time and that will continue to change in the future. This does not make it easier to grasp but in short, privacy is the right to choose what personal information and data about oneself is disclosed.But it’s not a right in the legal sense of the word. The legal aspect is covered by laws like the law of data protection!
When it comes to our private data we should be more careful about how we spread it and keep an eye on it. We are still learning how to handle social networks and we will keep learning by doing. Social networks want us to share as many data as possible to build a better picture of each user. This makes us more valuable for advertisers! Remember that if the service is for free it is because we are the product social networks sell to advertisers!
With all the hype around data protection, user today are probably more aware of privacy issues than ever before. The notion will continue to evolve over time and law makers will always be behind, so it’s primarily up to us to take care of our private date simply by looking into social networks privacy settings, even if laws are meant to protect us agains misuse.
If you want to learn more, check out the full document on Scribd. What is you opinion about privacy on social networks? Please share your comments.