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Social Networking: MySpace & Facebook Safety, Security, Privacy & Aggregation

Aug 10, 2008
Welcome to the complicated and confusing world of privacy in the information age. Social networks didn't think there would be any problem; all they do is take available data and aggregate it in a novel way for what they perceive is to its customers' benefit. Social networks members instinctively understand that making any information easier to display is an enormous difference, and that privacy is more about control than about secrecy.

But on the other hand, social networks' members are just fooling themselves if they think they can control information they give to third parties. Privacy used to be about secrecy. But clearly, privacy is more complicated than that based on examples and illustrations of privacy and safety breaches that keep pouring in.

It's about who you choose to disclose information to, how, and for what purpose. And the key word there is "choose". People are willing to share all sorts of information, as long as they are in control.

However, the reality is that social networks can unilaterally change the rules about how personal information is revealed whenever they want, a vivid reminder to people that they aren't in control. Often times that declaration is buried in a long privacy policy, and ends with a notice that it can change at any time. How many members ever read that policy, let alone read it regularly and check for changes?

Social Networks Own You
You see, legally, social networks own all data that you upload to the site. They can sell the data to advertisers, marketers and data brokers. They can allow the police to search its databases upon request. They can add new features that change who can access what personal data, and how.

People actually believe they own their data. Even though the user agreements technically give companies the right to sell the data, change the access rules to that data or otherwise own that data.

Members Want Control
The lesson for social networks members might be even more jarring: If they think they have control over their data, they're only deluding themselves. They can rebel against social networks for changing the rules, but the rules have changed, regardless.

Whenever you put data on a computer, you lose some control over it. And when you put it on the internet, you lose a lot of control over it. It is difficult to aggregate the data from multiple friends into a single place. That's why every solution out there has failed. When you aggregate information, you aggregate risk by consolidating everything into one spot ... it can only makes an identity thief's life easier for example.

Control is Illusory
Digital data is just too easy to move, copy, aggregate and display. Social network companies are trying to respect privacy challenges by allowing changes to their default settings and by giving users as much control over their personal information as they can. Best intention or moot point? It may be too late for you to decide.

An ideal solution would allow you to be very selective as to whom you bring on board into you very own private network. It would give you complete control as to who, what, when, where, how, and why you share personal information with. It would allow you to build you very own private and secure social network management system.

While the focus of it would be to make the online social networking experiences of users more convenient across the different social network platforms they're affiliated with, the ultimate goal would be to provide a simpler and easier way for social network users to connect and interact with the most trusted people in their individual "networks". That way they can keep out the "riff raft". It would allow them to "separate the wheat from the chaff".
About the Author
For a limited time, Anthony is giving away "FREE SHOCKING Reports Every Social Networker Must Read Now To Avoid Online Predators, Identity Thieves & Scams!" Get your free reports worth $47.00 at http://www.MyInterOpPro.net
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