Privacy is a subject of great concern for users who have accounts on different social networking sites. These sites claim to provide better user privacy and security, but the reality is not satisfactory.
Social networking sites have lot of features and third part apps that are solely intended to increase connectivity among users that sometimes has direct threat to user privacy.
Social media sites and privacy go hand in hand; the more you socialize, more you lose your privacy. Protecting user privacy involves managing the appearance of ‘personally identifying information’ (PII). This information includes user’s personal details like physical address, age, gender, location and photos. These vital information helps in correctly identifying friends and increasing the group. This is up to the users how much they want to disclose and hide. Displaying private info like phone nos and address could sometimes be problematic.
Social networking sites have very less control over the activities of third party apps. Third party apps in Facebook and Twitter could use technologies to directly intercept activities in user computer. They can track user browser activities using flash and http cookies, non-deleting cookies called evercookies, logging user data by tracking keyboard keys. Social media sites gives very less weigh to such threats.
Each media site has the privacy agreement which is supposed to be accepted by new users. If users do not accept this agreement, they are not allowed to join any desired site. If you carefully read the agreement, you will notice that they own all the information you provide and upload. This information or content about your privacy stored in the database of social networking sites even after you terminated your account.
Suppose, if social media sites are willing to compromise users’ privacy they will lose most of the users because nobody would like to remain on such places where they can’t get updates about other users.
Advent of web 2.0 has further increased the threat attached to online users. The potential of filtering desired information through ethnicity, gender groups or any specific age groups. Web 2.0 works as a collaboration and participatory information sharing platform on the World Wide Web. Since the advent of Web 2.0, more privacy issues have appeared.
All of the social networking sites are more interested in updating privacy information than protecting them. For example, Facebook was in limelight due to ‘The Breakup Notifier’. It was Facebook app known as ‘cyberstalking’ which sends alerts about friends’ romantic activities, their break-ups and new relationships or affairs. This app was downloaded more than 50, 000 times and over 700,000 visitors used this app in just 36 hours. This is an example of how social media can be a threat to users’ privacy. In addition to this, another application known as ‘Creepy’ which is used to track the location of people who upload new images and photos on social networking sites. If you upload any photo, this application will tell your most recent location. You can also use this application to reach immediate location of the people uploading new images on internet.
For protecting the privacy, do not forget to read privacy agreement and privacy settings before signing up with any social networking media site. It’s also important to understand features provided by these sites to protect against threats revolving around the website. You should also use third party apps with great care as they might reveal details you don’t want to unveil.