The Privacy Risks of Social Networking Sites

Interesting article on popular topic at IEEE Security & Privacy: What Anyone Can Know: The Privacy Risks of Social Networking Sites.

Conclusion is:

The most frequently identified risk of morphing our social lives and personal communications into the digital era (in addition to the broad and indiscriminate dissemination of our every thought and compromising photo) is that there is no longer an expectation of privacy in the sphere that traditionally has been the core of our self-conceived private lives. If prospective employers or university admission officers want in-depth access to a candidate’s personal activity, they can access these sites (either directly or through college-age staff members), and readily get an uncensored, unflattering, and in many cases largely unrepresentative portrait of that candidate. Not only is this information unfiltered by the selective editing of context (it was not prepared to show a candidate in the best light for a job interview, but rather to impress beer-swilling friends), but it is often deliberately skewed toward the exhibitionist, provocative, and inflammatory, as schoolyard showboating should be. Bonding is not the same social process as applying for a responsible job. We don’t routinely bash chests with future employers. But if the very nature of the forum undermines our claim to privacy protection, the answer might be in PC Magazine’s advice to users of MySpace that “[c]ertain information is best withheld from the public.”5 If not, an entire MySpace generation could realize, when it is much too late to intervene, that the cyber personae they spawned in adolescent efforts to explore identity have taken on permanent lives in the multiple archives of the digital world.

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