Home EuropeEurope II 2015 Privacy issues of social networking

Privacy issues of social networking

by Administrator
Marcus GrausamIssue:Europe II 2015
Article no.:5
Topic:Privacy issues of social networking
Author:Marcus Grausam
Organisation:AI Austria
PDF size:379KB

About author

Marcus Grausam, CTO of A1 Telekom Austria AG

Marcus Grausam studied mechanical engineering at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) as well as working for the University as a research assistant. He then joined mobilkom austria as a sub-project leader in 1998, where he was responsible for the introduction of the billing system.In 2006, Grausam became Head of the Operation & Maintenance unit at mobilkom Austria.

In March 2010, he joined A1 Telekom Austria AG as Head of the Operation department and was in charge of overseeing network quality and stability, service provision, management of network, billing, application and data center operations, housing, hosting, customer network and customer solution operations as well as information security. Since October 1, 2012 he has acted as Chief Technology Officer at A1.

Article abstract

‘Cyber bullying’ and ‘trolling’ are modern day issues which are becoming a worrying trend and these types of incidents are a result of social networks.

Full Article

In the early days of the Internet, during the 80’s, only basic services of personal communication were available. Tools were limited to e-mail and group chats and only insiders, mostly those in IT research and development sectors, had access to these primitive tools. These groups enjoyed exchanging their ideas and other information virtually and used it as a way to stay in touch with each other. At this time the term ‘social network’ was unknown and SPAM (unsolicited e-mails) and privacy on the internet were not yet issues.
In the 90’s the World Wide Web was invented, and browsing the internet became popular. People learned to surf web sites (even without search engines), and online platforms started to collect user data. Spammers got copies of e-mail lists in order to offer paid services for contacting these addresses with commercial content, which was usually not of interest to the consumer. Unfortunately, some recipients actioned these emails and helped turn the world of spam into a profitable business. Spam increased and this then raised the issue of privacy concerns on the internet. Now, spam filters have been invented to reduce the volume of unsolicited emails that fill our mailboxes each day – and people are more clued on to the world of spam and when an email may not actually be a legitimate call to action.
The spam problem, however, has not been solved, and there are two main reasons for this. The first is that people like to communicate by e-mail with each other, especially in business life and as a consequence, people distribute and collect e-mail addresses at a rapid rate. For a spammer, a key target to hack is someone’s list of contacts, regardless of whether they are stored on a PC or in a database on a server. The other reason that spam continues is that people are not charged per e-mail. If there was a minimal charge for each e-mail, then nearly all spam businesses would be negatively affected immediately.
It is not just information or communication that makes the internet so fascinating for all users. It is the individual participation that attracts many people. Remember ‘Second Life’? Second-Life is an online virtual world, which was launched in 2003. Players could create their own avatars and interact with each other. This was the first time a platform on the internet opened up the possibility to control personal avatars in a virtual world, where virtual effort or real money could be spent to earn virtual goodies. Sadly, criminals arrived and stole people’s possessions. Although ‘Second Life’ was a virtual world, real world problems came into play.
In 2004, Marc Zuckerberg invented Facebook which has had unbelievable success. On this social platform, it was not an avatar, but an individual’s own personality that was the focus, with the intent to bring together people with similar interests and profiles. Users could post text, photo or video instantly and share it with their contacts. The most important feedback from Facebook is the likes from other people. The more likes someone earns, the better this individual feels. But the success lies not only with these psychological aspects, businesses are also driving Facebook’s activities. The Facebook user becomes the object of interest for companies to target with its products and services. Due to highly specialized personal profiles, the advertisement industry uses Facebook data to tailor offers to users. But unfortunately it is unknown how Facebook exploits the personal data of its users.
Facebook is the best known example of a social network and has the biggest market share. Other platforms like YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, Mylife, Google+, Linkedin and Classmates, etc. can also collect a lot of personal information. Users share their personal details at their own free will but without knowing how social platforms plan to use it or share this with other interested parties.
Data privacy organizations have warned people about the abuse of personal data in social networks but it hasn’t stopped the trend of people joining them and the wide sharing of information. And it probably never will stop people, as society loves being able to stay in touch with each other and share information instantly. Businesses are also opening up communications and adding social networks to part of their brand communications program as this is where customers are active.
Social networks offer a digital means of extending our social lives. As long as ones virtual identity matches his or her real identity, behavior on social networks is often very similar to normal life. But sometimes when people think their identity is hidden or anonymous, they tend to post things that can be misconstrued and have ongoing negative and hurtful impacts on the real life of an individual. ‘Cyber bullying’ and ‘trolling’ are modern day issues which are becoming a worrying trend and these types of incidents are a result of social networks.
Therefore, what we learn through our education system, families, friends and communities is essential and these standards should be reinforced when using social networks. Growing up, our parents always taught us to be cautious, polite, respectful and helpful to those who need it, and there is no reason why these principles should then be forgotten when engaging in an online public forum. Postings in social networks has the potential to reach a very wide, and sometimes global audience, which includes many people that belong to different ethnic groups, have different cultures, religions and political opinions. The internet connects people and makes them closer; therefore world wide diversity and respect for all individuals must be properly addressed by parents and teachers – online and offline.
Businesses and social networks are now integrated, regardless of data privacy issues. The most important lesson for all users of social networks is to understand that any information written on a social network platform is in the public domain. The lesson here is that if somebody wants to avoid any personal information being leaked then they should make a conscious effort not to disclose it. So keep giving input to your favorite social networks, but only with information that you are not afraid to share with the whole world. It’s as simple as that.

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