Monday, September 10, 2007

More on Privacy

On Friday we posted about what the marketing world may look like in 2020, specifically how our privacy will be impacted. Interesting stuff...

Then today I came across this article that specifically addresses the wealth of information that consumers are voluntarily providing when they participate in social sites, like Facebook. From CNN, the article is titled: The sinister side of social networking.

The article discusses how consumers need to be especially careful about what we publish about ourselves. It gives examples of companies that are scouring the web for what they term "digital litter"--that is the personal tidbits of information that may be useful for direct marketers or thieves out to steal your identity.

The article pointed out that Facebook will soon be changing, and not in a way that will protect our privacy. "A soon to be added public search feature on Facebook will mean that user profiles can be found through search engines such as Yahoo and Google."

"What was once a cozy world between friends (you had to join Facebook before you could access such information) is now available to anyone.

Facebook hopes the move will drive more users to the site and boost advertising revenues, which analysts believe are being under-realized.

Technology expert Om Malik wrote in his blog this week: "This move transforms Facebook from being a social network to being a quasi-White Pages of the Web."

Facebook's public search feature has raised eyebrows among security experts. As users have to "opt out" of the service rather than opt in, it could mean up to 39 million profiles becoming viewable when the service goes live."

Although I normally see articles like this one as ways to frighten consumers and point the fingers at nosy direct marketers who are out to collect data on everyone, I do agree with the article that we need to understand and do all we can to protect our privacy by being careful about revealing our personal information.

And, I agree with the tips included within the article on steps you can take to safeguard your private information:

Equifax Top Tips for Using Social Network Sites:

• Don't include common verification such as your date of birth or your mothers maiden name

• Set up privacy on your profile so only close friends can view your information

• If you are going on holiday or you will be left in your home alone, don't put it on your site. This could leave you vulnerable to break ins

• Potential partners and employers are often searching names on these sites. Don't put anything on your site which could ruin your chances of a new job or boyfriend/girlfriend

• Be wary of anyone you meet on these sites. The photo may be deceptive and they may have different intentions

Seems like common sense, no? But, pretty important as data collection technology evolves and as social networking expands.


LinBiz said...

Thank you for these valuable comments about thinking safety first on social websites. I am a new independent distributor of a nutritional juice beverage and am beginning to explore venues for exposure to my business. However, I am not "sold" on the value of such sites as YouTube or Facebook anyway, as I'm not sure anyone is safe from the possible identity thievry you mention...and allowing search engines to browse social sites...well, that's like sawing off the padlock but leaving a sticky note behind that says "don't enter."

Suzanne Obermire said...

Linbiz--love your analogy about the padlock! Thanks for sharing.

I do think, however, that you should consider growing your network through those social sites. In your case, in particular, I think that you may find a lot of like-minded, nutritionally-aware folks who may be super interested in what you have to say/sell. I believe that if we take care to guard important data (SSN, date of birth, etc), there are lots of benefits (both personal and professional) from sites like Facebook.