Privacy and Social Networks

I got this excellent video from Neli Mengalli on Friendfeed about privacy in social networks like for instance Facebook and Orkut. Most people do not realize what lies behind the apparent ” free safety” of these closed gardens.

This video made by Privacy Commission of Canada complements what Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, defines as the goals of her mandate and her growing worry of “governments and businesses (which) have a seemingly insatiable appetite for personal information.”

Many educators and bloggers have already warned people about what happens when they want to close their account in some of these sites. The information is not really deleted but kept there just in case people change their mind and in case they don’t, there is no way they can recover it or transport it to another site. Users do not know how their data is being used either.

What is the message behind the video? Can and should openness/freedom be an issue? We should we have the right to protect and have the ownership of our personal information/content being able to retrieve it whenever we see fit.

UPDATE: A good article on First Monday that goes along the same way : Market Ideology and the Myths of Web 2.0

2 thoughts on “Privacy and Social Networks”

  1. Thanks for sharing this Barbara,

    A useful and interesting video. Definitely one to consider showing to our students. It complements the discussion The Webheads had just a while ago about whether or not to get students to sign up for sites or not.

    I think I’m going to continue to get my students to use pseudonyms or nicknames for any sites I get them to use. I’d hate to prejudice their future chances if someone found their work and decided it was poor quality etc.



  2. Hi Seth,

    For me, learning is a process that lasts a lifetime …the “poor quality” (whatever this means) of today may be the genius of tomorrow (Einstein is the perfect example). I would like to think that one’s worth is not reduced to work that was produced online as a student at a certain time but represents an array of skills, competencies and experience gathered over time.

    What worries me here though, as I quoted above, is the governments’ and businesses’ insatiable appetite for personal information, which is given out recklessly, innocently and then used purposes other than those one intended and without the users’ knowledge. It may be easily used for control, pressure and manipulation.

    I’d say that being aware of how social media may be using individuals is a more important part of digital literacy than how to use a tool or platform and yet this is a subject that is seldom touched upon.
    Read Michael Welsh’s post about participatory media:


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