It’s no secret that I love social media. I am very active on many platforms such as on my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr and Youtube to name just a few. And although I am not afraid of sharing parts of my life on these platforms with other people, I am also very aware of the fact that all the content that I share, and my behavioral data, is used for commercial purposes by those platforms and by anyone who uses “listening” tools to gather insights. But are those 600 Million users on Facebook as aware about this as we online media professionals are?
Privacy & Ethics | don’t we care about people’s privacy anymore?
I think as a professional designer in the space of online media, and thus also social media, I have an ethical responsibility towards people that I design content and services for. The people I call “consumers” or “visitors” during my working hours. The people that ultimately pay my salary, and allow me to have a great job. Funnily enough, I am such a “consumer” too, and so are you, and I would like to know that I am being treated well. Don’t you?
There is nothing wrong with using insights gathered through advanced listening tools, statistical data, or using behavioral targeting to find hot leads, but it’s the transparency of this towards people which to me is very important. Only when people know that this is happening can they make conscious decisions about what to share on the web and what not to. Do you think most people read fine print such as;
“Only click “Allow” for applications you trust. Allowing this application to connect to your account may give it access to your Direct Messages (DMs), or the ability to Tweet on your behalf.” Twitter Connect
“You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook” Facebook terms and conditions
… I don’t think so either. And I really do think we should do a better job of creating awareness about this without scaring people. This implies we have to be more transparent about what happens with this data, and provide the tools and information to people to both see how their data is being used and give them control over its use.
Privacy & Design | transparency builds trust
Trust is a key element when building relationships. We know that by now. So how can we trust something which is not being upfront about what it is they do with our data? Or how can we build a trustworthy brand if we are not upfront about how we will use our customer’s content and data?
I think taking this into account when designing can play a huge role in overcoming this, and building trust.
People who use Twitter probably have seen this screen. It is the screen you see when you use your twitter account as identification to another site. This functionality has great benefits as it allows you to bring your Twitter identity onto other websites and take away the burden of having to register and remember another password. The downside is, as you can see on the right, that potentially all your data is available to that third party website. Even your direct messages!! Now that’s quite scary right?
Now let’s analyze this design. Clearly all the focus is put on the big “allow” button. This is what they want you as a user to click. The button is big and bright blue; it has a gradient and is on a white background for maximum visibility and contrast.
So take a close look at the right panel, with the privacy warning. It has a light blue background, a small and grey font and is to the right of your reading path. Basically it is designed to have much less prominence and distract you as little as possible from hitting the “allow” button.
Sure you can argue that all information is there, thus Twitter has checked the “ethical” tick box. But think about it. Have they really? Shouldn’t they have given this way more prominence? I think so!
Privacy & Armageddon | scams, robbers and global domination
But there is a darker side to privacy and social media which is very scary. Personally I am not too paranoid about it, but again this is because I make conscious decisions about what my virtual self does on the web.
In the article “The Dark Side of Social Media and Privacy” Mark Evans brings to our attention how vulnerable we are when we keep checking in at places on location based services such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places. When you check in you are basically letting all the robbers in the world know where you are, and thus also where you are not. Home!
Then you have scammers, who viewed one of the many tutorials on “How to hack a Facebook account” on YouTube, and send you scam mail from your friends account asking you to send them money urgently because they have been robbed. (Real story)
All of the above is scary but, when aware that this can happen, you can be alert about it and be conscious about what you do and don’t do.
The thing that probably worries me the most is all the content, profile information, photo’s and behavioral data of over 600 Million people all stored on Facebook servers.
To get an idea of how much data that is, watch One Minute on Facebook video.
All this content is centrally stored and owned by 1 company. Can you only begin to imagine what would happen if a malevolent person would get a hold of that? Just as provoking a thought, what would have happened if the SS would have had access to this during WWII? Scary right? Is it unthinkable that this could happen again? I sure hope so, but think about it and be conscious about what and where you share things about your life.
Here is an interesting movie with a “Facebook conspiracy theory” which I do not necessarily believe, but it does illustrate the point I am trying to make.
I don’t think there is any reason to be paranoid, I know I am not. It is all about being conscious of our privacy and about what we allow other to see, track and use. And as professionals in the online world we need to be careful and respect privacy of people as it ultimately affects ourselves, our children and all our loved ones.Article originally posted on iStrategy Blog