Social networks and the value of personal information in these networks have been an incredibly interesting topic lately. Just as most of the controversy about Facebook and its complex privacy settings began to cool down, an increasing amount of personalised advertisements started to show up in the news feeds of users. And what about the recent scandals that emerged in the form of the NSA and its PRISM spying project?
So it was with great interest that I attended the presentation of a new book about social networks and how they impact our personal information. Because the book is written entirely in Dutch I will not bother with any quotes, but an attempt to loosely translate the title would turn up with something like this: “We don’t curse here, Facebook sees all”, which is an allusion to an old religious saying “Don’t curse, god sees all”.
The book, published by Davidsfonds, unravels the inner workings of the big social networks. It aims to offer the general public better insights into what information social networks (like Facebook) collect and store, and how these networks use this (your!) data. The social networks we use on a daily basis have become all-seeing and, as search systems become more and more important, privacy through obscurity has vanished. Not only do these networks log all, they also never forget.
Hier vloekt men niet, Facebook ziet alles by Heyman Rob, Daems Annet, Baelden Dorien and Pierson Jo
Davidsfonds Uitgeverij, €17.50
‘Hier vloekt men niet, Facebook ziet alles‘ starts of with clear explanations about who can access your information and what happens with it. It also touches on the consequences of third parties having access to your information. It is very nice to see that a significant amount of attention has been dedicated to the impact of social networks on children and teenagers, touching subjects such as cyber bullying and sexting.
Besides bringing all these dangers to the reader’s attention, the authors are also kind enough to provide the reader with some much needed guidance through the options that are available for them to better protect themselves and their online information. A useful tool for this is delivered in the form of the “Roadmap for social media wisdom”, this roadmap points users to the different kinds of information available about all topics related to online privacy and behaviour.
Finally, one of the main takeaways of the book is about user empowerment; companies should be clear on which information they collect and how they intend to use it, so that users can make a well informed decision about what they share.
This was especially interesting to me, as after all, putting you in charge of your data so we can make it work for you is what Jini is all about!