Social networks and new gate keepers of communications - Facebook

10. 8. 2009 | 15:56

According to the statistics of Facebook there were 200000 registered users older than 15 years from the Czech republic at the beginning of 2009. 54 percent of them were women, 44 percent of the Czech users of Facebook were between 21 and 25 years of age. And the number is rapidly growing.

 

Known or potentials dangers

Several concerns have emerged regarding the use of Facebook as a means of surveillance and data mining. Two MIT students were able to download over 70,000 Facebook profiles from four schools (MIT, New York University, the University of Oklahoma, and Harvard University) using an automated shell script, as part of a research project on Facebook privacy published on December 14, 2005. The possibility of data mining remains open, as evidenced in May 2008, when the BBC technology program „Click“ demonstrated that personal details of Facebook users and their friends could be stolen by submitting malicious applications.

Privacy proponents have criticized the site`s privacy agreement, which states: "We may use information about you that we collect from other sources, including but not limited to newspapers and Internet sources such as blogs, instant messaging services, Facebook Platform developers and other users of Facebook, to supplement your profile."Another clause that received criticism concerned Facebook`s right to sell a user`s data to private companies, stating: "We may share your information with third parties, including responsible companies with which we have a relationship." This concern was addressed by Facebook spokesman Chris Hudges who said, "Simply put, we have never provided our users` information to third party companies, nor do we intend to.

 

Data retention delays

Unclear – Facebook privacy principles says: „Access and control over most personal information on Facebook is readily available through the Profile editing tools. Facebook users may modify or delete any of their Profile information at any time by logging into their account. Information will be updated immediately. Individuals who wish to deactivate their Facebook account may do so on the My Account page. Removed information may persist in back-up copies for a reasonable period of time but will not be generally available to members of Facebook.
Where you make use of the communication features of the service to share information with other individuals on Facebook, however, (e.g. sending a personal message to another Facebook user) you generally cannot remove such communications
 

Concerns have also been raised regarding the difficulty of deleting user accounts. Previously, Facebook only allowed users to "deactivate" their accounts so that their profile was no longer visible. However, any information the user had entered into the website and on their profile remained on the website`s servers. This outraged many users who wished to remove their accounts permanently, citing reasons such as the inability to erase "embarrassing or overly-personal online profiles from their student days as they entered the job market, for fear employers would locate the profiles" Facebook changed its account deletion policies on February 29, 2008, allowing users to contact the website to request that their accounts be permanently deleted. On May 7, 2009 it was revealed by the New York Times that a bug allowed personal e-mail addresses of Facebook users to be easily accessible. The bug was fixed "within hours of it being reported to us.

 

 

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