When you log onto Facebook or Twitter, do you realize that perhaps hundreds if not thousands of companies have access to your private information that can include your buying habits, preferences, histories and even financial information? It’s an age-old worry that the Internet is full of stalkers and night-mongers who steal our private information while we are asleep or unaware. But is it really worth worrying about? Is it really conclusive?
Although the world wide web has come a long way since its popularity inception, there are still some risks that we all take when we sign on to our favorite websites and chat rooms. But really, who are the people that we are chatting with and making business deals with? Do we really know if there are legitimate companies doing legitimate business if they are over thousands of miles from us…or even in our own neighborhoods?
Privacy issues are a major concern for businesses who market their primary product or service over the Internet. The ease and convenience of doing business is inviting, but as a company you must first win the confidence and trust of your buying audience before they will do business with you. And, if you are visibly active on social networking sites, you have to do a little extra hand-holding to ensure the customer that you do want them for more than their money…or they will flee quickly.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a U.S. based company located in New York, takes great strides in helping to ensure citizens their freedom and choice of freedom as they live their lives, work on jobs, and interact socially, especially on social networking sites. As early as last year, one of ACLU’s avid spokespersons for privacy spoke out on the issue as it faced the Senate Commerce Committee:
“Anything we do on the Internet, everything we read, everything we see – all of it is available for unwanted scrutiny with deep packet inspection. Internet service providers can access a complete record of Americans’ transactions including our search terms, the pop up ads that appeal to us, the stories we read, the blogs we visit and post to, and anyone we’re associated with on the Internet. Without clear guidance from Congress, all of that information can be reviewed by ISPs and might be sold to advertisers or turned over to the government. Until Congress explicitly establishes what records ISPs may collect, with whom and under which circumstances they may shared, and severe penalties for non-compliance, Internet users will have no online privacy. (source)
What is Alright?<
However, social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace really aren’t any different than companies either when it comes to mining and gathering information on consumers. Just because surfers choose to partake within a social site doesn’t mean they are agreeing for their information to be shared and stored, does it. NO! Privacy disclosures exist on most reputable, business websites, and social networking shouldn’t be any different.
This article written by Computerworld discusses the ramifications that social network sites incur when they disregard the privacy requests that people want and expect from social sites. Aside from the legal issues, there are the trust issues that are there concerning would-be customers, and then there are also questions of whether or not some pieces of information are acceptable to mine…while others are not.
What do you think is acceptable in doing business online and via social networking? Should some information be off limits while other information is ok to share? What works for your business industry?
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