Monday, May 10, 2010

The Disclosure Dilemma

Yet another Facebook glitch, a new Twitter hack, and online privacy is again making headlines.

People increasingly want to share personal information with friends, but keeping this data private and secure is proving difficult. Managing intricate privacy controls on sites such as Facebook is one issue. But even without technical threats, there's still the problem that any person who can access your data or profile or tweets can leak them to an unauthorised third party. Can you really trust your "friends"?

Even deleting your data is problematic. For a start, a lot of social networking material gets cached all over Google and shows up high in search results. Facebook does have a mechanism for deleting accounts but it isn't immediate. An account stays in "deactivate mode" for two weeks and only then will it be deleted. Experts even suggest putting safe, fake data in your profile before you delete it, in case it does get retained - beyond your knowledge and control - on a remote server somewhere.

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