Rights Worth Fighting For?

Privacy on social networks has been a hot button topic as of late. Facebook’s implementation of instant personalization, Google’s “Street View” controversy and Twitter finally settling the FTC privacy investigation of its user information being obtained by hackers have all put a spotlight on privacy concerns with regards to social networks. Social network users, media outlets and elected officials alike have been in a uproar about privacy on social networks. On the other hand, many have already proclaimed the death of privacy–Peter Shankman among them. At F8 this year Mark Zuckerberg announced his plan to create on open graph to create a more social web experience. So is privacy worth safe-guarding or are we already living in a post-privacy age?

The annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference feels privacy is a right worth fighting for. The annual conference, which is part of the Association for Computing Machinery and according to its website is the “leading policy conference exploring the impact of the Internet, computers and communications technologies on society,” held its 2010 event earlier this month. This year’s conference produced a bill of rights for social network users. Here’s the text of the Bill of Rights as posted by our friends over at Social Times and you can also find it on the #BillofRights page on Facebook:

1. Honesty: Honor your privacy policy and terms of service
2. Clarity: Make sure that policies, terms of service, and settings are easy to find and understand
3. Freedom of speech: Do not delete or modify my data without a clear policy and justification
4. Empowerment : Support assistive technologies and universal accessibility
5. Self-protection: Support privacy-enhancing technologies
6. Data minimization: Minimize the information I am required to provide and share with others
7. Control: Let me control my data, and don’t facilitate sharing it unless I agree first
8. Predictability: Obtain my prior consent before significantly changing who can see my data.
9. Data portability: Make it easy for me to obtain a copy of my data
10. Protection: Treat my data as securely as your own confidential data unless I choose to share it, and notify me if it is compromised
11. Right to know: Show me how you are using my data and allow me to see who and what has access to it.
12. Right to self-define: Let me create more than one identity and use pseudonyms. Do not link them without my permission.
13. Right to appeal: Allow me to appeal punitive actions

14. Right to withdraw: Allow me to delete my account, and remove my data

Facebook made it clear that they disagree with some of the statements in the Bill of Rights and we can certainly see why. Number 12 on the list, the “right to self-define” directly violates Facebook’s Terms of Service that state “Facebook users provide their real names and information…you will not create more than one personal profile.” The heart of Facebook and user engagement on the site is the trend of users accurately identifying themselves. Trust within Facebook has remained strong because users continue to represent their real selves and connect with others they know in their real lives. Facebook is sitting on a goldmine of nearly 500 million users and despite their post-F8  privacy blunders it is in their best interest to safeguard their user base and make it conducive for businesses to connect with their customers.

Whether or not a Bill of Rights for social networks users is universally adopted we offer you this advice—utilize all the privacy settings made available to you, but remember the web is ever changing so share wisely.

Post written by Biana Bakman aka @bianalog. To learn more from fbadz.com, connect with us on Facebook!

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