Andre Yee's Security Insider

Andre Yee

Privacy Problems with Social Networks

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Social networks like Facebook and MySpace continue to face security and privacy related issues as functional capabilities expand amd social interactions within the community become more complex.. Here are a couple of examples.

First up, Facebook. It recently acknowledge that a new functional capability called Beacon continues to track user activity long after users have logged off the site and even when users have elected to not display their activities to Facebook friends. Beacon is part of the Facebook Ads platform that tracks user acitivities on Facebook partner sites like Blockbuster and reports those activities to the "friends" of the Facebook account. Account holders may choose to not have those activities reported but it appears that even in that case, the activities are tracked and stored in some Facebook database. As you can imagine, privacy advocates are up in arms. You can read more about this case, if you're interested.

You can assume that these privacy issues will not go away and will continue to plaque Facebook and other social networks. Sometimes, problems are less about guarding privacy but rather the abuse of trust within the social network. Here's a chilling story about how a MySpace teen took her own life because of a cruel prank perpetrated by adult neighbors.

Perhaps the issue is that both the guarding of privacy and the protection of social network subscribers may be at odds with each other. To some extent, that's how it works in real life...we yield some privacy to trusted authorities - banks, hospitals, law enforcement, the state...to gain protective services of some kind or another.

However, striking this balance works in the cyberworld may not be so easy.

An open dialogue about security and compliance for the enterprise.

Andre Yee

Andre Yee is an entrepreneur and technologist with nearly 20 years of experience in the business of technology.

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