Friday, July 13, 2012

Personal Lives, Social Networking, and Privacy Rights

Facebook and social networks have quickly become some of the best background research tools on the internet. They are not only used by individuals, but employers, colleges, and other entities. Over the years, people become both more concerned with privacy rights, and more public about their personal lives. But shouldn't we consider being more private about our personal lives and more public about our privacy rights?

Facebook is pretty clear that you are giving up most of your rights to privacy when you sign up, and that anything you post (including personal pictures) allows Facebook the publishing rights to reuse? Your personal information is no longer personal, the rights to it are owned by Facebook. This means that even if you delete something, Facebook retained the rights to it for up to seven years! There are many background check companies that have decided to take advantage of this information, and sell it within your personal background check records...

Interested in seeing what you can find in your social network background? There are a number of services that will show you what a potential employer or school may see, but that may also depend on the service used, as well as how far back their records date. TransparentMe is a service that is accessible through Facebook, and currently provides the social background check for around $20. Reppify is another service promoting background checks to employers, and states that their background checks include information from Twitter, Facebook, GitHub, and LinkedIn. Another company, Social Intelligence, is offering "Social media screening and research".

While most people complain about their privacy rights, they continue to post their personal lives on social networking sites almost universally. The few who have refused to participate in the usage of the most popular social networks are somewhat criticized for being behind in the technological world, rather than learning anything about how to protect their privacy. There's an old saying about what people know about you: "People only know what you tell them." Sounds like a good rule of thumb to me...

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