Social networks losing battle with privacy concerns

April 02, 2010

Social networks want to convince the public that they can be trusted with your personal information. But regulators and the general public are becoming increasingly weary of the situation. A recent string of privacy related issues has done nothing to quell people's fears.
After the disastrous launch of Google's social networking endeavor, the American FTC commissioner called the company's actions “irresponsible”1. Lawmakers soon after asked the FTC to investigate Google's actions2. The American government echoed public sentiment regarding the attitude of these mega corporations. Google already sits on a mountain of personal data collected from its search engine and email, yet continues to gather more through new projects like Google buzz and Chrome. Spotting an opportunity, Microsoft decided to launch a small fear based marketing campaign focusing on Google's data collection3.
In the advertisement Microsoft did not mention that it was a minority shareholder in Facebook; nor the social networking leader's dismal record on the matter as of late. Facebook quitely made another change to its terms of service that clawed back more privacy protection4. The company is essentially become more transparent with your data by default, and relying more on an opt-out system.
But policy changes aren't the only reason personal data can become public. Facebook recently made users emails public for approximately 30 minutes5. The leak was unintentional and the company scrambled to restore a semblance of privacy.
Despite their desire to gain trust, people are learning the hard way that you should never post something you don't want to become public. Because ultimately there is nothing private about information stored stored anywhere on the Internet.

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