Growing backlash against social networking sites?
Recent days have seen activity on the internet social networking scene really start to hot up. Industry watchers are currently awaiting the outcome of the jostling by Microsoft and Google to see which of them will emerge with a strategic stake in the latest darling of the social networking sites- Facebook.
Not worried? Consider these very worrying statistics:
- 55% of on-line teens in the USA have published their profiles
- 82% include their first name
- 79% have included photos of themselves
- 49% have named their school
- 39% have included a link to their blog
- 29% have disclosed their eMail address
- 29% have disclosed their family name
(Pew/Internet & American Life Project, “Teens, Privacy & Online Social Networks” April 2007)
You don’t have to be a parent to understand that there’s a major problem here!!
If the evolution of the Internet is to follow a constructive course then website proprietors will have to clean up their acts and learn to respect the principle that information revealed to them must be used for only the purpose intended – otherwise the hapless consumer is going to start looking for government intervention. In the meantime, it will be no surprise to anyone if the current sacrifice of trust on the altar of commercial gain drives an increasingly strident backlash.
Whichever of these two Internet giants finally emerges as the winner, it is clear that Facebook users will inevitably find themselves more comprehensively and deeply targeted with advertising – and many people are getting worried.
The decision by Facebook to enable search engine indexing of the profiles of their subscribers has already generated a fair amount of disquiet among the faithful, and it has been widely reported that many of them either don’t know or don’t care how to protect themselves from identity fraud, or worse.
Adding fuel to the fire are the questionable activities of information aggregation sites like ZoomInfo, Spock, PeekYou, Rapleaf and Wink. These sites are ‘borrowing’ as much personal information as they can get their hands on to compile profiles on many millions of individuals – many of them totally unaware of the process - all with the bald intent to exploit the access for their own commercial gain. And don’t think that you’re any better off if you’re a subscriber to MySpace, Friendster, LinkedIn, or any of the myriad other social networking sites.
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