“It turns out that when I used my Facebook account to create my profile, Pinterest accessed my personal information to automatically have me start following common connections,” Elizabeth Lupfer writes. “In my book, Pinterest broke a basic tenet of online privacy: to not invasively use my online information.” I’m continually amazed when the cry goes out about the sharing of “personal data” amongst social networking platforms.”
Mark Ragan – @MarkRaganCEO
Is your online privacy safe with Pinterest? http://t.co/ClgP4FEp
Before we go any further, let’s talk about couple of issues in the post. First, to gain access to Pinterest, you do NOT have to login using Facebook, as one of the people quoted in the article claims. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, they have always had a way to login using your email address and a password. Second, even in the current iteration, when you login using Facebook, you are given the option to have them “automatically” find your friends or not. Could their wording be improved that wording and implementation be improved? Sure, I don’t disagree with Elizabeth.
Pinterest Is The Least Of My Privacy Issues
The bigger concern, for me at least, is the notion that somehow connecting to anything using Facebook gives you an assurance of privacy? For a long time now I’ve been making the assumption that anything I post onto Facebook, in public or private, has the potential to be seen by someone I don’t know. Sure, there’s a reasonable amount of protection built in that gives me assurance that Facebook is NOT displaying information to people through the normal Facebook channels. But it’s not the “normal” Facebook channels that concern me.
A lot of services that use Facebook as a login option have their apps set to request almost unlimited access to your data when you opt in for their services. And I find that most people I speak with click “ok” without giving it too much thought. When an app asks for access to their Facebook account or when it asks to find their friends, they simply click “ok.” At that point, you’ve given up any reasonable assumption of privacy you may have had.
Thomas Largen – @tlargen
RT @EverythingMS: How much online privacy do you really have? Less than you think http://t.co/xTb3pxOD
In truth, “your privacy takes a beating every time you open your web browser,” Ed Bott writes. Enter PrivacyScores.com. A quick look at some of the scores of major information sites is sobering, and sites like Facebook and Twitter actually receive exceptionally high scores for safeguarding your privacy, with scores of 94 and 95 respectively. Even Pinterest.com has a stellar privacy score of 95. Some major web publishers don’t fair as well. They have much lower scores. “The generally low scores that web publishers in general earn using this tool is a sobering reminder that the balance of power is tilted in favor of those who collect and use information, often without your consent.” And I’m not sure most people care. Many have forgotten their creating content that in the not to recent past was considered private.
Re:garding – @Re_garding
People Say They Care About Their Online #Privacy, But Do They Care Enough to Switch? http://t.co/krMLhUR2
Do they care enough to switch? No. They don’t. The behavior patterns of even smart internet users indicate that people aren’t really concerned all that much. I get the impression that much of the web population is oblivious to any concerns, outside of the their concerns around credit card and identity theft. But there is way more to privacy than those issues.
This is part of the reason why it’s not an easy topic to understand. Even the legal system is having a hard time adjusting to the changing landscape and our changing values around it. Read through the curated posts in this Standford Law Review for a sense of the breadth.
Christine Marciano – @dataprivacyrisk
The Privacy Paradox: Privacy and Its Conflicting Values (Stanford Law Review Symposium Issue) http://t.co/JdKyzkjW #privacy > Great read!
“We live in an age of “big data.” Data has become the raw material of production, a new source of immense economic and social value.” And where there is money, there is bound to be compromised values. But this is the least of the concerns. Law makers playing in this field have the potential of unlocking a Pandora’s box of unintended consequences.
Of particular interest to me was the European Commissions move to create a new privacy right called, “The Right To Be Forgotten.” Jeffery Rosen wrote, “The right to be forgotten could make Facebook and Google, for example, liable for up to two percent of their global income if they fail to remove photos that people post about themselves and later regret, even if the photos have been widely distributed already. Unless the right is defined more precisely when it is promulgated over the next year or so, it could precipitate a dramatic clash between European and American conceptions of the proper balance between privacy and free speech, leading to a far less open Internet.”
Where Does Personal Responsibility Come Into Play?
I personally find it hard to believe that any network should be held liable for my inability to restrain myseflf from publish content I don’t really want anyone to see. And that brings me to the title of this post. Online privacy is an oxymoron and that the real problem with online privacy lies at the individual responsibility level. How is a website responsible for you sharing things you should never have shared in the first place? I don’t think they are.
Is my online privacy really safe with Pinterest? Sure. Why not? Since personal data isn’t generally shared there, my privacy is safe. But then again, I assume that nothing is truly private in online social networks. Especially if I’m granting one network access to another. I assume that a network has the potential to do things I’m unaware of with the connections and information I allow them access to. And perhaps we’d all be better off if we accepted the idea that online privacy really is a misnomer.
Then, perhaps,we’d simply stop clicking “ok” without thinking through the ramifications, stop making assumptions about what they will or won’t do with our information, and perhaps we’d stop blaming social network platforms for letting our “private” behavior out in the wild.
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Photo via Flickr By alancleaver_2000
This post was generated by Dashter
Dave Shockley says
Jeff thanks for the warning. I am one of those that for the sake of expediency click when maybe I should have been more conservative. Now I am regretting those past clicks.
Jeff Turner says
I make those same mistakes. With Pinterest, for example, I joined over a year ago. I opted not to sign in with Facebook and use an email address with a password. I would do that again if I signed up today. I like to “test” things, if possible, in a sandbox. I’ll invite people to join me later, if I find some value.
I actually think that the “Right to be Forgotten” is a great idea. While I understand the point you make about holding people accountable for their actions (and that is generally a good thing). However, what if “bad” picture was posted by someone else? Last time I had to deal with something similar to this in Facebook, I could only “untag” myself. At the end of the day there was still a photo of me up on someone else’s facebook page that I had no control over. And even though I no longer have a Facebook page, I still have no controll over facebook deleting my old account information. These reasons I think are why the Rite of being Forgotten is a good thing. To bad the US will probably never have such awesome legislation like that. “The best government money can buy.”
Jeff Turner says
I think it depends on what you mean by a “bad” photo. If it’s just not flattering, that’s one thing. If it’s you on a drunken binge somewhere you shouldn’t have been, that’s a different thing. In that case, I’d pick new friends. 🙂 Seriously, though, I understand your point, but there are a great deal of potential unintended consequences that come from legislating what seems to be common sense behavior. If a friend posts a photo I don’t like, I should be able to ask them to take it down without a lot of drama. If they won’t, I’ve got friend issues, not social media issues. I’d like to see this, but voluntarily by the social networks. I should have the right to have a network forget the data I’ve posted to it. No question.
Benjamin Bach says
Elizabeth Lupfer says
Hi Jeff — I don’t disagree with the points you make either…. and I know many people who feel the same as you do — that if you participate on social networking sites then you are letting go of privacy. I don’t hold Pinterest liable for taking my information and autopopulating a follow list for me — I should note, I created my Pinterest account using the Facebook API versus e-mail (sounds like you used your e-mail) and they DID have me automatically following common connections. If I’m at a bar having a private conversation does that mean the entire bar should be able to hear the conversation? Sure some people might catch snippets, but I can control who hears it by moving to a more private corner or whispering. Why shouldn’t I be able to “whisper” online when I choose to? It’s because I have social profiles that I value the ability to customize who can see what and where — keeping privacy levels within my control rather than having it decided for me. In any case, thanks for the thoughts you’ve expressed and I look forward to reading more of your content! Best, Elizabeth
Jeff Turner says
Elizabeth, no, thank you for stopping by and for your original thoughts on this subject. I think we both agree what the right thing to in this instance was and we also agree on the ability to “whisper” when and where we choose and not have a bullhorn forced in our front of our mouth when we don’t want it there. 🙂
Again, thank you.