Your data is out there for everyone

Social networking applications have experienced amazing growth. I have a Facebook account and a MySpace account, although I do not use them nearly as much as my students do. I also use Netflix, which provides its users a service by tracking what movies you say you like so that it can offer you similar titles to select. All this convenience, at such a low price… sometimes even free… What could be bad about that?

Americans have always had expectations of privacy… this was before the age of the Internet.  You have no privacy on the Internet. Social networking sites have value because of their captive audience for advertising and the large amount of data that is available.  It is only a matter of time before that data is mined… what will it be used for?  What about your children’s data that is on their MySpace and FaceBook pages… should that be available to anyone?  Do you even know what your children are putting out there? MySpace is offering their data up for sale. (see this article) How much data about minors is in there… A LOT!  How many children are putting data on the Internet that should not be out there… ? How long will it be before FaceBook does the same thing.  For all you Netflix users, Netflix just found out that your movie ratings can be used to identify you (see this article).   Netflix was trying to improve their algorithm for picking movies for you, but stopped offering that data to outside companies because of the identifying information.

How many other web-based services will sell their data?  How about Amazon.com?  Amazon already tracks everything you have bought, someone could be interested in that data. But Amazon sells everything so cheap!  Maybe that low price and convenience carries a bigger price…

2 Comments

  1. The lack of privacy is frightening. On Facebook, I no longer post any information about where I am, as I don’t want friends of friends to have that information. I am also concerned about the types of information that I see my teen-aged nieces and nephews posting.

    Besides the social networking sites, there are other people search sites with the specific purpose of providing personal information about people. A teacher recently pointed out PeekYou.com, which is a site that provides basic information and more specific information for sale.

    I am not sure that there is a solution??

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