Facebook’s Privacy Policy & Your Digital Rights

Posted by on Sep 17, 2013

Facebook has already gained the ire of privacy advocates over their advertising policies and their consent to the NSA’s PRISM program, but recent changes in the language of their privacy policy have sparked up another wave of controversy. All the while, shares of Facebook continue to rise, as users neglect the company’s use of their data for advertising purposes. Still, privacy groups continue to fight a public awareness campaign while challenging the company through a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. For users concerned with privacy, be sure to take control of your privacy settings and never upload content you don’t want exploited. Any sensitive data should be exclusively uploaded to a secure cloud provider that offers data privacy and user anonymity.

Facebook Privacy

Six major consumer advocate groups have championed digital privacy rights in an open letter to the FTC. The groups include CDD, Consumer Watchdog, EPIC, and representatives from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Patient Privacy Rights, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The privacy groups allege that changes in Facebook’s language violate a FTC court order and settlement that was reached back in 2011. According to the letter, “Facebook users who reasonably believed that their images and content would not be used for commercial purposes without their consent will now find their pictures showing up on the pages of their friends endorsing the products of Facebook’s advertisers. Remarkably, their images could even be used by Facebook to endorse products that the user does not like or even use.” This “free” advertising through mining and selling user profile data has outraged users that care about their digital rights. Executive director of EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center), Marc Rotenberg, says, “Facebook is now claiming the default setting is they can use everyone’s name and image for advertising and commercial purposes, including those of minors, without their consent. Red lights are going off in the privacy world.”

Marc Rotenberg

Another issue is the fact that the new language indicates that simply by signing up, teens using the site imply parental consent to the use of teen data for advertising. But as the privacy advocate letter to the FTC points out, “Such ‘deemed consent’ eviscerates any meaningful limits over the commercial exploitation of the images and names of young Facebook users.” Marc Rotenberg offered privacy advocates his organization’s support saying, “The FTC needs to open an investigation and make a public determination as to whether the change in privacy policy complies with the 2011. Groups such as EPIC are prepared to litigate if the FTC fails to enforce its order that we all worked to put in place.” While groups like EPIC fight back against Facebook’s encroachment, some users are also up in arms. Facebook asked users to comment on the changes and received hordes of scathing criticism. One user wrote, “If, that proposal really is enacted, the first time ANY of my friends sees an ad with any of my information in it, I will be deleting my account, and encourage everyone else to do likewise. You need us. We don’t need you.” At the end of the day, each social media users should remain the sole owners of their data.

Who Has Access to Your Info?

Social Media & Security Through SpiderOak

Social media users should be aware of how their data is collected and used before using any social media site or platform. Don’t upload anything you don’t want shared and exploited for advertising purposes. And be sure to exclusively store anything sensitive to a secure cloud provider. For most users, finding a truly protected third party cloud service can be a challenge as many “secure” services on the market have security gaps that leave data and private info wide open to third party attacks, leaks, or hacking. One cloud storage and sync service that sets itself apart from the rest of the market is SpiderOak. This service provides users with fully private cloud storage and syncing, featuring all of the benefits of the cloud along with 100% data privacy. SpiderOak is available with onsite deployment and private servers or outsourced deployment through a private and secured public cloud server, so that users can tailor the service to fit their needs.

SpiderOak protects sensitive user data with 256-bit AES encryption so that photos, files, and passwords stay private. Authorized accounts and network devices can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices because SpiderOak never hosts any plaintext data. This way, even if programs like NSA’s PRISM continue to stand unchallenged, people can rest easy knowing that their data is truly protected. SpiderOak’s cross-platform private cloud services are available for users on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, allowing for full flexibility and mobile access

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