The fact that Facebook is asking and finding ways to harvest more and more users personal data is no secret. The Facebook Timeline is a prime example of such. Asking users to fill in memorable or key events of their lives. But is it all too much? Do social networks really need to know this much personal information? Should they even be asking for it? This article looks at the way social media has encroached on peoples personal lives and whether it’s an infringement of privacy or acceptable in a modern world or if they are actually useful.
Facebook- A Step Too Far?
Facebook is one of the worst social media sites for asking for personal data. It asks for your name, D.O.B, work places, relationships, asks if you want to list your family members and much more. Facebook does this for marketing purposes. The more they know about you, the better they can use you as a target audience for their marketing schemes and thus make money. It’s that simple. The people behind Facebook are strangers, they couldn’t care less that you are dating Joe Bloggs and the people you befriend are, typically, people you know so they know most of this information anyway. Thus, surely it is actually surplus to requirement?
Facebook is now asking for mobile/cell phone numbers. When MarketMeSuite’s CEO, Tammy Kahn Fennell, signed into Facebook on her phone, they asked her to upload that data. Facebooks reason for it? “When it’s on your profile, friends can use Facebook to call you”. My friends already have my number and for those who don’t have it, I don’t want them to have it and I have no interest in talking to them on the phone.
Could It Be Useful?
For those who only have their nearest and dearest on Facebook then yes, it can help. By being able to put out a new phone number or new home address online via Facebook would save time and make life easier because everyone who they would give it to is on their Facebook profile and can see it. If you use Facebook for work only and share a work/office number then it is also much easier for you to know that the communications number is published and available for those who need it. It can be a huge time saver and a great help just to have all information in one place shared with only those you want to share it with.
Google Plus – Overzealous?
When you have a Gmail account and email from it, the person you are emailing gets automatically added to your “Gtalk” chat list. Yes there is an option to turn it off but it’s not the default option like it should be. Some people use Gmail for the simplicity and may not be tech savvy enough to realise why they have a chat list full of people they don’t know and how to stop it. Just because you email someone, it doesn’t mean you want to be available for them to chat to when you are online checking your emails. It’s overzealous to be adding people you haven’t asked for to be added to your chat lists. It’s not up to Google to determine who has access to talk to you.
Could It Be Useful?
If you are in business and only use Google for work emails, work friends, business partners, contacts etc, then yes, knowing they are automatically on your lists helps you save time and locate them easily. To see someone online in an IM setting is free, easy and quick, perfect for those who need to use their time efficiently. The same can be said for those who only add friends and family to their circles so they know only they are being added to their chat list. Again, time and simplicity is what makes this useful for people with quick on the go lives.especially in business or work surroundings.
Key Take Away
Social networks seem to think that users want to be over the top social in every aspect of their lives. Google thinks you should want to talk with everyone you ever email or add to a circle whilst Facebook seems to think you should share all your personal data so “friends” can see it. Yes, I understand that there is always the option to say no, that it’s down to ones personal feelings, but some people are idiots and think “Facebook is asking me for this, better do it!” Fine, let them be idiots and fill in what they like but they are not the people who are at risk. Vulnerable people, such as those with learning difficulties, lower IQ’s, mental health issues may also use Facebook and may not understand that it’s only suggested that they add their data. It’s not fair if someone doesn’t grasp the idea that it’s out of choice and then their data ends up in the hands of someone it shouldn’t. They shouldn’t be blamed for adding it in the first place if that is the case. The question of how secure and safe this data is can also be questionable, particularly with Facebooks awful reputation for privacy.
There is not enough information making it clear that they are not under obligation to add this data so they don’t have to if they don’t want to. All settings should default to “No” rather than “Yes”. Social networks are meant to increase your sociability, I understand that, but how sociable you are, how you choose to be sociable and when and with who you share your data should be by your rules and not theirs by default.