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Social Networking or Social Delinking? Privacy for Trade

New Delhi, Thu, 20 Sep 2007 Binita Tiwari

Newstrack India

Sep 20: Social networking sites are creating buzz these days creating new privacy challenges. It has become a vogue if you are not a part of these sites you will be taken as outdated.

The services provider can have access on the personal data stored in their server and can be used for other purposes. Several concerns have been raised earlier but this whole process of sharing personal information should be taken seriously.

Recently a research from Pace University said that, Facebook and MySpace users are willing to let the sites sell their personal data in return for access to the sites' social networking features.

The research included questioning of MySpace and Facebook users for their views of the privacy protection offered by the sites and about the personal information they are willing to reveal on the social networking sites.

Catherine Dwyer, the professor who led the study said that most of the users are willing to develop online relationship, knowing that privacy safeguards are weak.

She told “users seem to view the social networking sites as a way to get online profiles, photos and the like for free while the sites "can take all their data and do whatever they want with it,".

"Both sites are really interested in monetizing this information as much as possible," she said. "They don't exist to give people ways to upload photos."

The study said that less than 5% of MySpace users surveyed and slightly more than 5% of Facebook users surveyed said they believe that the personal information they put on the sites is strongly protected.

Even the respondents to the queries said they are willing to share their personal details with others users.

More than 85% of respondents in both groups reported that they would share a photo of themselves on social networking sites,

The study also revealed that 91% of Facebook users and 62% of MySpace users said they use their real name on such sites.

In addition, 87% of Facebook users and 41% of MySpace users post their personal e-mail addresses on the sites.

Knowing that the other user exaggerate information in their profiles, with 32% of MySpace users agreeing to it ,half of them are still wiling to get together with the people they meet virtually.

"Here is this site where they express …a high level of distrust in other people, yet 44% said they have met someone through the site," she said. "People have this bullet-proof notion about their own ability to manage themselves online. They don't really depend on the site to filter any of this stuff."

Dwyer said that user of both sites may be ignorance of how the sites may be using the data they provide about themselves.

She reminded the report in The New York Times on Tuesday about MySpace's plans to use data-mining techniques to gather information for advertisers seeking to market products to users of its site.

In the study, only 18% of Facebook users and 21% of MySpace users said that they strongly agreed that the site would not use their personal information for any other purpose than as part of their profile.

"There is a real disconnect between [the beliefs of] people using these sites and the way the privacy management is set," she said. "You transfer privacy to this digital realm and there are only two states - it is private…or it is public, and there is potential for every single person in the world to know about it."

How can one do business on the privacy of its users?

Social Networking or Social Delinking?

Social Networking sites revolutionise the very concept by offering to reduce the geographical distances, and differences among people. It opens a platform for discussion on various issues…


Social Networking, a craze for the one seeking to connect to the outer world through internet. Several promises and hopes but this whole new virtual world is bringing darker trends of abuses and suffering.

People turn up to such sites not only to quench their creative desire but also to get a deeper emotional support. Specially teenagers who feel secluded in their social life visits social networking sites to make and discuss their problems and often fall pray by the predators who sound to be good virtual friends ,collect the information and result…either they are raped or blackmailed.

Many profiles are there who break all the limits and are filled with filthy and lewd comments. There is no mechanism for regulating such things which go unchecked.

Some social networking sites are alleged to be promoting prostitution and pedophiles.

There was a case in India where a girl found her tailored naked photograph posted on one of the social networking sites. She complained and then the photo was taken back from the site.

Is not the fault lies with the providers of such site? Why can’t be there a mechanism where such censored photographs can be scrutinized before it goes online?

After all these sites claim to be social networking sites and therefore must have some social responsibility.

The users of these sites develop a sense of anonymity and they do what ever they want, crossing all the limits because it gives false sense of security as no body can know them or see them as there is no physical interaction.

Sexual grooming has become a common phenomenon and the victim sometime remains unaware of the abuse. A person victimised others by giving uncomfortable messages, offer gift and tries to come closer by insisting on phone number to have personal contact, and interested in knowing the dressing of the other person…

Cyber bullying is a crime done through computer to annoy or abuse, it can be through e-mail, threats, sexual remark and hate speeches…

It can create lots of psychological problem to the one, who pas through such crime…moreover there is a chance of untimely exposure to sex and violence through these sites specially those who fall under vulnerable age.

There are cases where male chats under females name and female chats under males name to trap some in their respective gay or lesbian community.

Parents should come forward to educate their child on the safe use of internet, they should be told not to share some information which might bring trouble for them like exchanging addresses phone number, to restrict their contact to the known few, to tell them the harm it may cause by posting the photographs, taking child in confident to share about the online friend who offer to meet them.

Cyber café too should take proper initiative to curb such problems beforehand by asking identity card or other relevant documents. reminds me the song by Horrorpops…I want out, this has gone too far, This thing is no good it has no use, I don't wanna be loved by you this way, I just want to be me, with everyhing it means, Good and bad!......

I don't like to be told how to dress by you

I don't want to be told how to behave

I don't feel free to be me with you

I don't want to be treated cold

And often left alone

I deserve better than that......

Sometime it’s often too late when the innocence of a child is stolen, when they are lured from this virtual world to real world and find the scene to be totally different, it takes time to heal as no one can wash those pains…


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September 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM

the song by horrorpops even remind me of my friend who has been a victim of one of such social networking site n not just once but has been a chain relieve the pain of one abuse she fell into another such abuse n then another...they exchanged numbers n then met...she got rejected twice n goin to face another in no time...she is always in that virtual world of net friends...ranked from close buddies to just acquaintances...god forbid such sites!



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