Policy Primer on Facebook - Net303 Internet Politics and Power
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Policy Primer on Facebook - Net303 Internet Politics and Power



Like most busy people in today’s cyber-dependent society, I am guilty of accepting the terms and policies of many online social media applications and other services without ever studying the ...

Like most busy people in today’s cyber-dependent society, I am guilty of accepting the terms and policies of many online social media applications and other services without ever studying the endless pages of legalese and jargon. This policy primer effectively highlights the main issues relating to Facebook user’s identity and privacy.



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  • Thanks Veronica for commenting on my Facebook policy primer. You mentioned adolescents and how at such a young age could understand all the legal implications of Facebook’s (and other social media) Terms of Service. I came across a survey by Pew (Bosker, 2013) stating that “among all teens online (not just Facebook users), 39 percent have lied about their age” and it’s these same adolescents that acquire hundreds of “friends” with 33 percent of these friends being people whom they have never met before. Not only are they most likely too young to understand the TOS that they obviously agreed to in order to open their Facebook account, but 14% of these children are setting their profiles to “public” exposing themselves even further.

    Lie they do. A more disturbing survey, conducted by MinorMonitor using 1,000 parents with children under the age of 18, revealed that “over 38 percent of children with Facebook accounts are 12 years old and under. Even more worryingly, 4 percent of children on Facebook are reported to be 6-years old or younger, which translates to some 800,000 kindergardeners on Facebook”. (Protalinski, 2012).

    There seems to be a trend here. Another study, this one by Danah Boyd (senior Microsoft Researcher) in 2011, revealed that “55% of parents of 12 year olds said that their child was on Facebook and that 76% of those had helped the child gain access”.

    I know some parents who have opened up Facebook accounts for their under-13 year old children thinking that just because they have been added as “friends” they can protect their children from being exposed to security risks, cyberbullying and online sexual predators in an environment where most of these children’s friends could possibly have their privacy preferences set on “public”.

    Stating percentages probably does not show the real impact of under-aged Facebook users trying to beat the system. In 2011, consumer reports stated that “7.5 million children under the age of 13 years old were using Facebook including more than 5 million under the age of 10” (Troianovski & Raice, 2012). That’s a lot of under-aged Facebook users who immediately and knowingly violated the Terms of Service when they opened their account.


    Bosker, B. (2013). How Teens are Really Using Facebook: It’s a ‘Social Burden,’ Pew Study Finds. Huff Post Tech. URL accessed http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/21/teens-facebook-pew-study_n_3313812.html

    Protalinski, E. (2012). 38% of children on Facebook are under the minimum age of 13. ZDNet. URL accessed http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/38-of-children-on-facebook-are-under-the-minimum-age-of-13/11745

    Troianovski, A. & Raice, S. (2012). Facebook Explores Giving Kids Access
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  • Hi Sarah,

    Thanks Sarah for commenting on my Facebook policy primer. I share your concern about people potentially using our photos long after we have deleted our Facebook accounts. To think that although I keep my sharing to “friends” online, as opposed to Facebook’s default “public” view, my photos and potentially a snapshot of my life may very well end up viewable by the world at large, is concerning. We are in essence entrusting our “friends (who consist of family and friends, colleagues and peers as well as people we have never met: complete strangers) to protect our privacy and what I find alarming is that many of my Facebook “friends” have their privacy preferences on “public”.

    It is this simple broken link that exposes everything we share. We become known to the public world quite intimately; from your where we were schooled to what job we hold; where we hang out with friends and which hotel we stayed at recently and all these life events we celebrate by posting images of ourselves (and others) as proof.

    So I’m not sure why we should be worried about Facebook actually harvesting our viewing, shopping and lifestyle preferences to use in their marketing strategy when we, through our own “friends” have exposed everything anyway.

    Just a thought.
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  • Really like your presentation it is very clear, raises awareness and has good imagery with bite sized pieces of information on each slide.

    With Facebook statistics such as the 1.15 billion monthly uses and over million active advertisers we can be in no doubt as to the value of our data. A 14,000 word TOS and Data Usage Policy is not expected to be read by users when signing up for the service and it seems immoral that by default users agree to the terms because they use the service. Goettke and Christiana (2007) note that Facebook has “become a significant part of adolescent American culture. It is interesting that a person as young as thirteen can sign up for Facebook and agree to the TOS. Goettke and Christiana (2007) also point out that the 'privacy problems that ensue stem from the fact that individuals are unaware of the amount of personally identifiable information they have provided to an indeterminate number of people.” Adolescents, in particular, may not understand the extent of the information that they have provided, or who may see and keep it. I thought your slide number 27 was particularly useful - you note that a user may view a friend’s timeline or send a message and Facebook has got it - time and location stamped.

    Hopefully, website like tosdr.org (Terms of Service Didn’t Read) will be able to effect a difference. They are in the process of classifying website TOS and Privacy policies rating them from a Class A (very good) to a Class E (very bad) thus making it simpler for the consumer to decide whether or not to sign up for a service or find another with a better rating.


    Goettke, R. & Christiana, J. (2007). Privacy and Online Social Networking Websites. Retrieved from https://www.eecs.harvard.edu/cs199r/fp/RichJoe.pdf

    Veronica Kerr
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  • I found this policy primer particularly interesting as the debate and confusion around Facebook, its privacy settings and third-party marketing has been raging for some time.

    One aspect that really made me take notice was “When you accept Facebook’s terms, in essence, you start working for them as your content and information = $1.8 billion in advertising revenue.” This made me stop and think about the people I interact with, the places I post things from and the links I click, all pieces of information slowly compiled and eventuating in the “Suggested Posts” and targeted marketing on the side of the page. After reading about further privacy issues introduced since the addition of location services and tagging and tracking on SNS’s like Facebook (Brown and Muchira, 2004, p.63), I began to question how this could potentially be used for marketing in the future; Facebook messages with discounts popping up when passing or Facebooking in a café for example.

    I have also been interested in the Privacy Policy aspects of intellectual property on Facebook. Through this Slideshare and James Bradshaw’s (2013) primer, I began to think about privacy on Facebook in a larger perspective than just other people accessing my personal information for marketing. The idea that people could potentially be using photos of mine that have not been made private, even if I do delete Facebook, was a bit shocking.

    Yet, the difficulty in keeping EVERYTHING on Facebook private, including being able to be searched, is problematic if you intend to use the site as a connection tool and social network platform. As Goettke and Christiana (2007, p.2) note, this is the MAIN role of these type of sites, therefore lasting change in online privacy will only come from a gradual development of common sense in what is appropriate to post.


    Bradshaw, J (2013) Facebook: Assignment 2a: Policy Primer. Slideshare. Accessed on 26th October 2013. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/james24587/facebook-online-policy-primer-27390298.

    Brown, M., & Muchira, R. (2004). Investigating the Relationship between Internet Privacy Concern and Online Purchase Behavior. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, 591), 62-70.

    Goettke, R and Christiana, J (2007) Privacy and Online Social Networking Websites. Computer Science 199r: Special Topics in Computer Science Computation and Society: Privacy and Technology. Accessed on 26th October 2013. Retrieved from http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/cs199r/fp/RichJoe.pdf.
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    Policy Primer on Facebook - Net303 Internet Politics and Power Policy Primer on Facebook - Net303 Internet Politics and Power Presentation Transcript

    • Facebook Terms of Service & Privacy Policy Primer Image: iStock photo 20387597
    • Presented by Elizabeth Barrett October 2013 Net 303 - Internet Politics & Power, Curtin University of Technology Image: iStock photo 20387597
    • Did you know… Image: iStock photo 19537364
    • That with 1.15 billion* monthly users and Over 1 million* active advertisers….. * Facebook Shareholders Report, June 2013 Image: iStock photo 24490629
    • acebook is by far the most popular online social media network today… Image: iStock photo 23758818
    • “…its mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected..” * Facebook Shareholders Report, June 2013 Image: iStock photo 7421023
    • “…with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them” * Facebook Shareholders Report, June 2013 Image: iStock photo 25450435
    • But that’s just the warm and fuzzy side of things…. Image: iStock photo 17164399
    • So you signed up to Facebook? Data Use Policy https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy https://www.facebook.com/ Terms https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms
    • But did you read the fine print? Image: iStock photo 12332311 Image: iStock photo 7421023
    • Like most busy people, chances are you didn’t Image: iStock photo 6261739
    • Don’t fancy reading through the “14,000 word Terms of Service and Data Usage Policy?” Image: iStock photo 17636775 Smith (2013)
    • …then here are a few things to consider… Image: iStock photo 105627 Image: iStock photo 9076516
    • By using or accessing Facebook you have already agreed to all their policies and terms of use... …and for those about to sign up you should be aware that…. Image: iStock photo 20275613
    • “you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the USA” Image: iStock photo 25450435 *Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities
    • ...and that all the content you create as well as photos and video clips you load are essentially considered as yours...BUT by registering with Facebook… Image: iStock photo 20100966 Image: iStock photo 22050762 *Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities
    • …you automatically grant them a “non-exclusive, transferable, sublicensable, royalty-free, world-wide license to use any IP content that you post”* Image: iStock photo 20100966 *Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities
    • and your intellectual property may live on for a very long time if your friends have stored your images and clips onto their own devices. Image: iStock photo 20100966
    • Facebook does give you options on controlling who you share information with through its privacy and application settings, Image: iStock photo 13418690
    • Image: iStock photo 25154172 However, if you chose your account to be publically viewed by the world at large, then your intellectual property will almost never die as people you don’t know can manipulate and use your images.
    • You must also be over the age of 13 to open a Facebook account… Image: iStock photo 2403281
    • and “you will not bully, intimidate… or harass any user” *Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities Image: iStock photo 4503138 Image: iStock photo 20262072
    • Facebook will not tolerate online violation of other people’s rights and have the right to remove any content that infringes on someone else’s copyright… Image: iStock photo 15508725 *Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities
    • … and if you are a repeat offender, they can and will disable your account. Image: iStock photo 15508725 *Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities
    • When you accept Facebook’s terms, in essence, you start working for them… Image: iStock photo 24700390
    • …as your content and information = $1.8 billion in advertising revenue (Q2 2013) Image: iStock photo 24700390 *http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/24/facebook-q2-2013-earings/
    • you also grant Facebook the right to receive and use your viewing data… View a friend’s timeline or send a message? They’ve got it! Search for a friend or use their mobile app? They’ve got it! Image: iStock photo 22179357 They’ve also got the date, time and location of any photos or videos you
    • And if that is not enough… They can use your GPS to let you know if friends are in the area. Oh, and they also use information about your friends for profiling. Image: iStock photo 22179357
    • Facebook also gathers your information as well as your entire ‘friends’ list when you connect to a game using your Facebook account. Image: iStock photo 16645763 *Data Use Policy
    • This profiling (creating of digital dossiers) can be “analysed and combined with information from offline sources to create even more detailed profiles”. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, 2008. Image: iStock photo 19765925 Goettke, 2007.
    • Image: iStock photo 2077265 Image: iStock photo 7438483 It is similar to the social classification that we willingly and unwillingly participate in each time we use our credit cards, loyalty cards and driver’s license. Lyon, D. (2002)
    • If you don’t like their Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, you can at any time delete your account…..and it will be permanently deleted (you lose everything). Image: iStock photo 16997857
    • Facebook will keep your information in their servers for up to 90 days after you, or they (in the event you have violated your agreement), terminate your account. Image: iStock photo 16997857
    • Any images or content you have shared with friends (or the public) will remain on their active Facebook accounts until such time as they themselves delete their own accounts. Image: iStock photo 16997857
    • Unfortunately…. the fine print is there to protect Facebook – not you… Image: iStock photo 17338879
    • So here’s a tip for busy people...if you don’t have time to read the fine print… Image: iStock photo 7314122 …try searching for keywords like “waiver”, “grant”, “license”, “content” “advertising”, “terminate” and “privacy”
    • It’s now up to you…but remember “sign in haste – repent at leisure” Image: iStock photo 9076516
    • Data Use Policy. (2012). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy Facebook Reports Second Quarter 2013 Results. (2013). Retrieved from http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/AMDANJ5DZ/2737607602x0x679164/ea3035be-c597-490b-9d2769811a9f723b/FB_News_2013_7_24_Financial_Releases.pdf Goettke, R., & Christiana, J. (2007). Privacy and Online Social Networking Websites. Computer Science 199r: Special Topics in Computer Science Computation and Society: Privacy and Technology. Retreived from http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/cs199r/fp/RichJoe.pdf iStock_000000105627 [image]. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000002403281 [image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000004503138 [image]. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000006261739 [image]. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000006828874 [image]. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000007421023 [image]. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000009076516 [image]. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000012332311 [image]. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000013418690 [image]. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com
    • iStock_000016645763 [image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000016997857 [image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000017164399 [image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000017636775 [image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000019537364 [image]. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000019765925 [image]. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000020100966 [image]. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000020262072 [image]. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000020275613 [image]. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000020332995 [image]. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000020387597 [image]. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000022050762 [image]. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000022179357 [image]. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000023758818 [image]. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000024490629 [image]. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000024700390 [image]. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000025154172 [image]. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000025450435 [image]. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com
    • iStock_00002077265 [image]. (2006). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_00007438483 [image]. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000015508725 [image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000007314122 [image]. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com iStock_000017338879 [image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com Lyon, D. (2002) Everyday Surveillance: Personal Data and Social Classification, Information, Communication, and Society, 5(1). Melanson, D. (2013). Facebook reports $1.81 billion in revenue for Q2 2013, 1.15 billion monthly active users. Retrieved from http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/24/facebook-q2-2013-earnings/ Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (2008). Privacy and the Internet: Travelling in Cyberspace Safely. Retrieved from http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs18-cyb.htm Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. (2012). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms