Recently I had an interesting conversation in G+ about social network privacy policies. I supported the view that their privacy policies are mere posturing. The moment you upload content to any social network that content is no longer belong to you just because they can be analyzed and schematized by incredible software that tracks that vast flow of information.
Lets analyze some of them:
By clicking the “sing up” button in any of the multiple available social networks, the company that is behind, always retains a clause that they can use all your data uploaded to use it “internally” or by its affiliates. Among those affiliates we always can find in the web rumors that one of the intelligence agencies in the world (CIA) could be one of their investors in the dark.
In the case of G +:
G+ says explicitly in their policy content:
“We may share aggregate statistics about Google+ activity with the public, our users, and partners, such as publishers, app developers, or connected sites.”
and is still harder where in their policy they have regarding the use of G + by using our mobile device in which automatically get our geoposition as float. In their policy of sharing data they have 3 cases for which they can share user data without your consent:
“We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request, (b) enforce applicable Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations thereof, (c) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues, or (d) protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public as required or permitted by law. “
The dangerous words in the previous paragraph are “reasonably reasons”. I ask, Who is the person/group/institution that says what is “reasonable” or not. Is a “reasonable” reason if a government ask Google/Facebook/other-social-network to give your data to them?
The case of Facebook is not far behind:
Facebook applies a dangerous policy to every shared content (photos, people relations, streams, etc.) so, they would become co-authors of these contents, and this reserve the right to make our data as they please .
The value of our data
At this point we can say “Well, we could delete that data, accounts and go. All fixed, isn’t it? They no longer have anything? “. Well, I have to say to you that this does not do anything. Not many months ago I read an article on Anglo-Saxon on-line diary (sorry, I’m not able to remember the direct link to that article) that said that even delete the profiles on social networks such harm was done.
Although the article was focused on internal rumors from Twitter, they commented that always exists “the big stream”, it was just a large amount of data generated by users in real time (business reviews, opinions, mass movements …).
One single “tweet” about company INSERT-YOUR-NAME-HERE does not have much commercial value, when it joins many many others they can be used to perform market research among other studies.
Which company don’t want to spend some money (if they have enough) to get such magnificent flow of information? This will help to improve their market strategies to increase sales on their next ultra-awesome “iThing”. And I only was talking about about business … think now about government doing mass predictions with the same informational flow.
Where do I go?
By this I do not want anything to justify latest WhatsApp and Blackberry Messenger acts, but I always unworthy when people protesting policies of some companies and performs such other assertions directly on Facebook and G+, where their privacy policies are not better than WhatsApp and BMessenger ones.
Actually we live in a globalized world, where the latest panacea of government agencies and research was the creation of these social networks, where they invest (usually by using intermediary Venture Capitals) and with this they give access to large streams of data to analyze what happens around the world in real time.
A possible solution to this problem could be Diaspora, a free software that lets you create your own social network, that runs by yourself in your own servers. But under my point of view is just an experiment that will “die by oblivion”. Yes, “die by oblivion” because social networks users begin to assess a social network when their on-line and off-line live have not distinguish. Facebook without friends is more boring than a soap opera. Without interesting people to follow or people that follows you and that generate interesting conversations, Twitter is less interesting than lose an afternoon reading articles at perezhilton.com .
I already know, we always try to give a return for all this … but then we’re “forced by the mass” to use social networks.