Do you ever use facebook


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Do you ever use facebook

  1. 1. 1. Introduction2. Types of Social Networks3. What Information is Public?1. Information a User Shares2. Information Gathered Through Electronic Tracking4. Who Can Access Information?1. Behavioral Advertising2. Third-Party Applications on Social Networks3. Government and Law Enforcement Use of Social Networking Sites5. Social Networking and Job Searches: Pros and Cons1. How Social Networks May Assist Job Seekers2. How Social Networks May Hinder Job Seekers3. How Social Networks Can Get You Fired6. Anonymity on Social Networks7. What Laws Protect a User’s Information Online?8. Reading a Privacy Policy9. Fraud on Social Networks1. Identity Theft2. Malware3. Social Engineering10. Tips to Stay Safe, Private and Secure1. Setting Up an Account2. General Tips for Using Social Networks11. Resources
  2. 2. Do you ever use Facebook?Feb, 2013, Pew Internet & American Life ProjectView Question Results | View ReportDid you ever use Facebook in the past, or have you never used it?Feb, 2013, Pew Internet & American Life ProjectView Question Results | View ReportWould you like to start using Facebook, or is that not something youreinterested in?Feb, 2013, Pew Internet & American Life ProjectView Question Results | View ReportHave you ever voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for aperiod of several weeks or more?Feb, 2013, Pew Internet & American Life ProjectView Question Results | View ReportThinking about the impact of Facebook on your life overall, would yousay that over the last year Facebook has become more important toyou, less important to you, or that it is about as important as it was ayear ago?Feb, 2013, Pew Internet & American Life ProjectView Question Results | View ReportAnd over the last year, would you say that the amount of time youspend using Facebook on a typical day has increased, decreased, orstayed about the same?Feb, 2013, Pew Internet & American Life ProjectView Question Results | View Report
  3. 3. Now thinking about the upcoming year, do you expect to spend moretime on Facebook, less time on Facebook, or do you expect to spendabout as much time on Facebook as you do now?Feb, 2013, Pew Internet & American Life ProjectView Question Results | View ReportPlease tell me if you ever use the Internet to do any of the followingthings. Do you ever...use a social networking site like Facebook,LinkedIn or Google Plus?Feb, 2013, Pew Internet & American Life ProjectView Question Results | View Report(We are interested in what some people do as the (2012 presidentialAccording to J. A. Ryan (2008) the concept of “the virtual community” had been introduced inHoward Rheingold‟s (1993) landmark novel by the same name, though he would later suggest the more aptterm “online social network” (2000). Researchers use quite a number of terms, which are related to socialnetworking sites:• Internet Social Networking, which can be understood as the phenomenon of Social Networking onthe Internet. Hence, the concept subsumes all activities by Internet users with regard to extendingor maintaining their social network (Richter et al, 2009).• Social Web sites, defined as those Web sites that make it possible for people to form onlinecommunities, and share user-created contents (Kim et al, 2010). Authors researched socialnetworking sites and social media sites as two distinctive groups of social web sites, though theyacknowledge that that the distinction between the two types of sites is fast disappearing. Theirdefinition of social Web sites, although fairly loose, does exclude certain types of Web sites andparts of Web sites that allow people to post UCCs and share them. For example, the groups inportal sites (such as Yahoo Groups, South Korea‟s Naver cafes), blogs, online news sites, anddating sites do not, at least today, meet the definition of social Web sites, since they do not allowthe users to form communities.• Social networking services, are online communities that focus on bringing together people withsimilar interests or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others (Marcus &Krishnamurthi, 2009).Most popular definition is proposed by d. m. boyd and N. B. Ellison (2008):. Social Network Sites are“web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a boundedsystem, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse theirlist of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature of theseconnections may vary from site to site” (Boyd & Ellison, 2008). D. Beer (2008) criticised this definition onthe grounds that it is too wide and includes all sites that feature social network of any kind (and not just ascore features). He also disagreed that social networking sites are only for making new relations.As it is not intended by this article to propose ultimate definition of social networking sites, it will bed. m. boyd and N. B. Ellison (2008) definition that will be used as basis in this paper, though term of socialnetworking sites is used instead of social network sites (SNS), as I agree to D. Beer (2008) opinion, thatnetworking is not limited to extension of ones‟ network with only new acquaintances.Research on Cross cultural differences in Social Networking SitesMost studies on cross-cultural difference impact on various online activities are based on G.Hofstede‟s (1980) culture dimensions (power distance, individualism / collectivism, masculinity / femininity,uncertainty avoidance, and Confucian dynamism), as well as E. T. Hall‟s (1976) dimensions (high / lowcontext and polychromic / monochronic cultures).According to P. Y. K. Chau (2008), individualism / collectivism of those dimensions is supposed to beparticularly relevant dimension in studying the use of services built around Web 2.0, including SNSs.Individualism means that loosely connected social relationships are valued in which individuals are expectedto care only for themselves and their immediate members, while collectivism means that tightly knittedrelations are valued in which individuals expect to look after their extended social relations (Hofstede, 1980).Prior studies have identified four important distinctions between individualism and collectivism whichprovide a good theoretical foundation to examine the Web 2.0 adoption issues: first is an individual‟spersonality orientation (idiocentric and allocentric), second difference is self-construal (independent andinterdependent), third and fourth differences based on E. T. Hall„s dimensions – communication style (lowcontext communication and high context communication) and time orientation (monochromic and
  4. 4. polychromic). Though he explained fairly well that those distinctions between individualism andcollectivism mean, P. Y. K. Chau (2008) did not provide any assumptions of how this dimension andparticular distinctions could be related to some particular features of Web 2.0, which also includes SNSs.Thus not much research done so far fits these predictions anyway.In following sections of article there are brief descriptions of research related to cross-cultural issuesin social networking sites provided in order to highlight scope of research and limitation of each study. Thisarticle covers only those research articles which could be found online.ISSN 1822-6515 ISSN 1822-6515EKONOMIKA IR VADYBA: 2010. 15 ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT: 2010. 15846Research mentioned in other sources. This part covers studies which there mentioned in otherscientific articles, but there not otherwise accessible online or by other means to me.d. m. boyd and N. B. Ellison (2008) in their article mentioned research of S. Fragoso (2006). Sheexplored the cultural differences between Brazil‟s and America‟s appropriation of the SNSs Orkut. Orkut is asocial network site created by Orkut Buyukkokten and launched by Google in 2004. Although originally anEnglish-only platform, Orkut was quickly adopted by Brazilian users and became a major phenomenon inthe system (by 2005, over 75% of Orkut users were Brazilians).Other scholars begun to do cross-cultural comparisons of social networking sites use – L. Hjorth andM. Yuji (in press) compared Japanese usage of Mixi and Korean usage of Cyworld (boyd & Ellison, 2008).According to J. Kent (2008) Asian and Anglo Saxon differences are a specific challenge, by means oflanguage and social protocols. Social Networks based around regional Korean relationship protocols wereanalyzed by Kyung-Hee Kim and Haejin Yun. Their work on how supported bothinterpersonal relations and self-relation for Korean users traces the subtle ways in which deeply engrainedcultural beliefs and activities are integrated into online communication and behaviours. Findings of thisstudy show, that in Cyworld architectural social networking site features are adapted to match the culturalnorms of the users and the high-context relational dialectics of Koreans (Papacharissi, 2009).Language use and SNSs. S. C. Herring et al. (2007) analysed language use on From1000 randomly selected journals, according to the findings from the coding of the random sample four nonEnglish languages were selected: Russian, Portuguese, Finnish, and Japanese. Selection was supported by thefact that these languages were among the most common non-English languages used on authors selected total 24 journals (6 journals per language analysed). Study suggested that trendstowards English language use and other language use co-exist on the Internet, along with the tendency forbridging individuals to blur the boundaries between language groups. S. C. Herring et al. (2007) identifiedthese limitations of their study: findings are based only on; they may not apply to otherblog hosting services in the U.S., or to similar services in other countries; only four languages were examined; further research is needed to determine the robustness of other languages.User goals and behaviour on social networking sites across countries. C. N. Chapman & M. Lahav(2008) study was supposed to identify differences in the SNSs user goals and behaviour across four differentlocations: USA, France, China and South Korea. As a result of study three dimensions emerged tocharacterize social network interaction by culture, which were described in terms of user goals andexpectations; typical pattern of self expression; and typical interaction behaviours. Authors claimed that totheir knowledge work they did is the first large-scale project to investigate SNSs in the United States,Europe, and Asia. However they analysed profiles and observed behaviour directly of only 36 users in totaland it was only SNS that particular user visited the most that was analysed.C. C. Lewis & J. F. George (2008) based their research on G. Hofstede‟s (1980) dimensions (asindependent variable), but their study was more focused on how cultural values of particular country affectdeceptive behaviour (dependent variable) on SNSs. This study not only found differences in deceptivebehaviour for the two cultures, but there were also differences associated with the topics of deception. Forinstance, Koreans were apt to lie about their salary and their physical appearance, whereas Americans weremore apt to lie about their age and where they lived. Study was carried out by using online questionnaireposted in two SNSs: MySpace and Cyworld. Only two countries respondents were questioned: US (99responses) and Korean (94).A. Dotans‟ (2008) study sought to explore cultural differences in user content driven website byfocusing on Flickr as a case study. The primary research question was: To what extent does culturalbackground impacts the use of a user content driven website? In order to answer it the research approach wasto collect and compare different data from five national cultures and observe if there are any noticeablepatterns that could be attributed to cultural background. Once any differences were encountered the task wasto try and explain them. This was attempted partially by applying G. Hofstede‟s (1980) cultural model. Forthe research there were 5 countries chosen according their rank on G. Hofstede‟s (1980) individualism index:Taiwan and Peru (low Individualism value), Iran and Israel (medium Individualism value) and the UnitedKingdom (high Individualism value). 50 users from each culture were selected manually based on the
  5. 5. location and description specified in their Flickr profile and had to have a minimum of 100 public photos.Data provided by users on 40 randomly selected photos in their profiles was analysed and users wereinterviewed via online questionnaire. According to author the data analysis revealed noticeable andconsistent trends and patterns; however most were too contextualised and sometimes general to beISSN 1822-6515 ISSN 1822-6515EKONOMIKA IR VADYBA: 2010. 15 ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT: 2010. 15847interpreted using Hofstede‟s model. They were more about “Flickr culture” than national culture and thecorrelations with most of the quantitative data were very weak. A. Dotan (2008) suggested that in futurefollowing aspects on Flickr and other user content driven websites should be explored: private versus public,visual content analysis, extending current study by either adding more users from the current five cultures orintroducing new ones. However author did not seem to recognise that criteria he used in methodologyemployed for this research are very Flickr oriented and most probably could hardly be used in analysis ofother user content driven websites.Online privacy and communication on SNSs across countries. B. A. Marshall et al. (2008) aimed tomake cross-national comparison of Indian and American university students‟ attitudes toward and usage ofSNSs. The research was focused on online privacy and communication issues. An online survey was createdbased on a survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project among American teenagers.Altogether, 366 university students in India and 272 college students in the United States took the survey.Results did not really mach expectations of authors which they had according to values ofindividualistic/collectivistic countries they build their hypothesis on. Such results led to suggestion thatcross-cultural research about the use of SNSs is required for several reasons. First, this research illustratesthat online privacy and communication behaviours do not match traditional understanding of cross-culturaldifferences. Second, the appeal of SNSs among university students indicates that such technologies will beincreasingly important tools for the workplace.Ch. Guo (2009) investigated the combination effects of privacy and trust on SNSs in a cross-culturalcontext. Cross-cultural aspects of research based on G. Hofstede‟s (1980) individualism dimension. Authorchose to carry out research with social networking users in USA and China. First there were focus groupsorganised, there were 7 people in USA group and 6 in China group. The respondents were encouraged tofreely discuss and exchange their personal experiences of using SNSs in detail, including privacy, trust,social awareness, familiarity, etc. Afterwards there was quantitative survey carried out. 321 usable entrieswere identified in the U.S. data and 773 were recorded in the Chinese data. The study shows criticaldifferences exist within the process of trust formulation between American and Chinese SNSs users. Forinstance, Chinese users have different perceptions on social awareness than U.S. subscribers; hence, theygenerate different expectations of what makes a SNS provider trustworthy. Thus, the study helps to betterunderstand factors that influence individual‟s general perception of SNSs and how such perception differs inthe East and West cultures.Cross cultural differences in appeal of SNSs. A. Marcus & N. Krishnamurthi (2009) analysed sampleof SNSs, basing analysis on G. Hofstede‟s (1980) dimensions, but limited only to three countries: Japan,South Korea and USA. Besides, their study is limited by observation of only interface of websites: first page,home page, sign-up and sign-in pages. They found some apparent cultural differences in SNSs, butrecognized that more research needs to be done to obtain clearer picture of the cultural artefacts involved inthe different SNSs. Authors as well recognized that inclusion of Europe into the study would also help give aclearer picture of how cultural differences affect patterns observed on SNSs across the world. However itseems that authors do not deem it important to analyse how well users from different countries perceiveappeal of different social networking sites.ConclusionsResearchers use different definitions of social networking sites which mainly results in differentscopes of research, - in some cases it means excluding sites mainly meant for sharing user generated content,as Flickr (photo sharing), YouTube (video sharing).Most of the studies on cross-cultural issues in social networking sites analyse only few socialnetworking sites and/ or in respect of few countries, in most cases involving only very limited numbers ofusers, if not involving them at all. As noted by A. Marcus & N. Krishnamurthi (2009), it is important1. School going children who are presently doing their 10th +1 and +2 in Private management schools wereassumed to represent the population of active participants in the social media networks because of their familycircumstances and the spread of this media due to peer pressure.2. These children command a sizable market for various product categories.
  6. 6. 3. The age group of this population is suitable both for their active participation in their family decision makingas well as an unexplored avenue for the research.4. It is assumed that all the members of the population are equally socialized as consumers due to equalexposure to various media especially Social media but are divided by standard of education, school, mothertongue, number of siblings in the family, although there is no empirical evidence to assume so.5. It is strongly felt that social media‘s dominance in networking among children results in word of mouthcommunication on fashion, trends, style, brand awareness, product information sharing besides influencingone‘s tastes, preferences, likes, etc. This informal peer pressure equips children in consumer socialization viz-a-viz more knowledgeable than their parents in order to be dominant in family consumer decision making.6. Very few studies in India have focused on the impact of media as a source of information and as asocialization agent, affecting family purchases. With the exposure and influence of media (including internet)on children is on the rise, it is imperative that future research should be planned to determine children‘s attitudetowards advertising, and the impact of creative elements. Hence this research was undertaken to explore theextent of influence of social media on children‘s role in family purchase decision making circumstances.HYPOTHESESThis study needs to find the demographic, Netnographic profiles of the respondent group in order to tie up thevariables in question. The following hypotheses were generated to test the significance of these variablesamong the population.1. There is no significant difference among the young & older children in terms of influencing the family buyingdecision making situations.In India older children command an upper hand over younger siblings in family decision ePROCEEDINGS FOR2011 INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CONFERENCE AND COLLOQUIUM Contemporary Research Issues and Challenges in EmergingEconomies 346
  7. 7. making because of their seniority in the household. Hence influence of age on the role played in the decisionmaking is studied here.2. There is no significant difference among the children in their self declaration about the frequency in takingpart in the family buying decision situations.Though no corroborative evidence is collected from parents on the validity of the children‘s response, it isassumed that children do take active part in the family decision making situations.3. Consumer socialization will be associated with social media membership, internet usage (weekly usage,most used media), and word of mouth communication over social media chatting, positional influence in family,most preferred social networking site and the number of friends in SNM.4. Social Network Media lurking leads to brand/product knowledge sharing.5. Irrespective of being immersed in social media or not, product knowledge is least shared among onlinefriends.Chatting is the single most purpose of using the SNM besides sharing information with others. Most of themhave less than 100 friends in their SNM and 100-500 friends is the next major segment. In their opinionmajority of them stay neutral when they are asked about their level of agreement if their online presence isessential to them. It was statistically significant. On the whole, though children were found to be active in theironline presence, their online self does not significantly show any relationship to their online consumer self.
  8. 8. Table 4Netnographic Profileof The RespondentsNetnographic profileF(N=126) % Aware and having anaccount in SocialNetworkingMedia(SNM)RegularAccess toInternet YesNo933373.826.2Face bookAwareHaving anAccountNeither awarenor have anaccount2790921.471.47.1WeeklyInternet usageNilLess than 1Hour1-2 Hours2-3 Hours3-4 Hours4-5 HoursMore than 5hours33226209112526.21.620.615.97.18.719.8Orkut AwareHaving anAccountNeither awarenor have anaccount48542438.142.919.0Twitter AwareHaving an AccountNeither aware nor have anaccount59373046.829.423.8Advertisementover InternetYesNoNo response61442148.434.916.7My spaceAwareHaving anAccountNeither awarenor have anaccount54116142.98.748.4Most PreferredSNMFacebookOrkutTwitterLinkedInBharatstudentOthersNo response91311162372. AwareHaving anAccountNeither awarenor have anaccount49206038.95.655.6Hi5 AwareHaving an AccountNeither aware nor have anaccount46206036.515.947.6Most preferredSNMintroduced byFriendsBrotherSisterParentsNo response8211622565. anAccountNeither awarenor have anaccount4447834.93.261.9
  9. 9. Bharatstudent AwareHaving an AccountNeither aware nor have anaccount446734.94.860.3Have yourecommendedyour SNM tosomeone?FriendsBrother/SisterRelativeParentsNo response6836247542.44.81.632.3Ibibo AwareHaving anAccountNeither awarenor have anaccount5815534611.942.1Perfspot AwareHaving an AccountNeither aware nor have anaccount3828630.21.668.3Using SNM forless than ayear1-2 years2-3 years3-4 years4-5 yearsMore than 5yearsNo response4630125322836.523. AwareHaving anAccountNeither awarenor have anaccount4428034.91.663.5Fropper AwareHaving an AccountNeither aware nor have anaccount4128332.51.665.9Single mostpurpose ofusing SNMChatSharePlay gamesTime-passCheck latestNews updatesKnow latesttrends68124102154. onlinePresence isessential to mestrongly AgreeNeutralStronglydisagreeNo response316891824.654.07.114.3
  10. 10. In this study, an effort is made to check if interactions in SNM lead to product/brand knowledge, whetheronline friends could influence brand/product preference, and whether children acquire product/brandknowledge through online advertisements in order to influence their family in the buying decision process.The following statementselicited the responses on a 5point Likert scale to measurethe above. StatementsStatement Number DescriptionStatement 1 S1 My online friends share productinformation with me.Statement 2 S2 My online friends are my bestguide for purchases I make.Statement 3 S3 My online friends share moreinformation than offline friendsStatement 4 S4 I discuss with online friendsbefore I make up my mind.Statement 5 S5 I read lot of reviews in onlineforums before I decide on abrand choice.Statement 6 S6 I judge brands on my ownthough I read them online.Statement 7 S7 I never discuss with friendsonline about my purchases.Statement 8 S8 I get lot of product input from myoffline friends.Statement 9 S9 It is fun to comment on whatsomeone bought.Statement 10 S10 Advt. are informative in mysocial networking site.Statement 11 S11 I buy impulsively whenever Isee a new advt. in my siteStatement 12 S12 I influence my friends aboutbrands whenever I go online.Statement 13 S13 There is not much truth aboutchat room comments on brandusage.Statement 14 S14 My family takes my views in toaccount whenever we buy afterreviews.
  11. 11. Statement 15 S15 My online friends approval ofmy choice is a must for me.Statement 16 S16 I care what others see of me. Iexhibit my purchases thropasting the pictures on the wall.Statement 17 S17 I influence my familys brandchoice. I show the reviewsonline.
  12. 12. 1. IntroductionWhat do your long lost childhood best friend, your college roommate, your boss and yoursignificant other all have in common? If you are one of the hundreds of millions of people usingsocial networks, there‟s a good chance that you are linked to them through an online relationship.The information you share with your online contacts allows you to keep in touch without mucheffort. But who else is looking at that information? And how are they going to use it?Online social networks are websites that allow users to build connections and relationships toother Internet users. Social networks store information remotely, rather than on a user‟s personalcomputer. Social networking can be used to keep in touch with friends, make new contacts andfind people with similar interests and ideas.These online services have grown in popularity since they were first adopted on a large scale inthe late 1990s. Pew Research shows that the number of adult Internet users who have a socialnetworking profile more than quadrupled from 2005 to 2008. (See Pew Researchs SocialNetworks Grow: Friending Mom and Dad). By October 2012, the social network Facebook hadexceeded a billion active accounts worldwide., many people besides friends and acquaintances are interested in the informationpeople post on social networks. Identity thieves, scam artists, debt collectors, stalkers, andcorporations looking for a market advantage are using social networks to gather informationabout consumers. Companies that operate social networks are themselves collecting a variety ofdata about their users, both to personalize the services for the users and to sell to advertisers.This fact sheet will provide information about the advantages and disadvantages of using socialnetworks, what kind of information may be safe to post and how to protect it, as well as who isable to access different types of information posted to these networks.2. Types of Social NetworksThere are many types of social networks available. This fact sheet examines the privacy andsecurity implications of using a few of them. Most social networks combine elements of morethan one of these types of networks, and the focus of a social network may change over time.While this fact sheet does not address every type of social network, many of the security andprivacy recommendations are applicable to other types of networks.Personal networks. These networks allow users to create detailed online profiles and connectwith other users, with an emphasis on social relationships such as friendship. For example,Facebook, Friendster and MySpace are platforms for communicating with contacts. Thesenetworks often involve users sharing information with other approved users, such as one’sgender, age, interests, educational background and employment, as well as files and links tomusic, photos and videos. These platforms may also share selected information with individualsand applications that are not authorized contacts.
  13. 13. Status update networks. These types of social networks are designed to allow users to postshort status updates in order to communicate with other users quickly. For example, Twitterfocuses its services on providing instantaneous, short updates. These networks are designed tobroadcast information quickly and publicly, though there may be privacy settings to restrictaccess to status updates.Location networks. With the advent of GPS-enabled cellular phones, location networks aregrowing in popularity. These networks are designed to broadcast one’s real-time location, eitheras public information or as an update viewable to authorized contacts. Many of these networksare built to interact with other social networks, so that an update made to a location networkcould (with proper authorization) post to one’s other social networks. Some examples oflocation networks include Brightkite, Foursquare, Loopt and Google Latitude. For an in-depthdiscussion of locational privacy, read the ACLU of Northern Californias Location-Based Services:Time for a Privacy Check-in and their Comparison Chart evaluating the privacy features of sixlocation networks.Content-sharing networks. These networks are designed as platforms for sharing content, suchas music, photographs and videos. When these websites introduce the ability to create personalprofiles, establish contacts and interact with other users through comments, they become socialnetworks as well as content hubs. Some popular content sharing networks include thesixtyone,YouTube and Flickr.Shared-interest networks. Some social networks are built around a common interest or gearedto a specific group of people. These networks incorporate features from other types of socialnetworks but are slanted toward a subset of individuals, such as those with similar hobbies,educational backgrounds, political affiliations, ethnic backgrounds, religious views, sexualorientations or other defining interests. Examples of such networks include deviantART,LinkedIn, Black Planet, Goodreads and What Information is Public?There are two kinds of information that can be gathered about a user from a social network:information that is shared and information gathered through electronic tracking.Information a User SharesInformation a user shares may include:Photos and other mediaAge and genderBiographical information (education, employment history, hometown, etc.)Status updates (also known as posts)ContactsInterestsGeographical locationThis information becomes public in a variety of ways:
  14. 14. A user may choose to post information as “public” (without restricting access via availableprivacy settings).Certain information may be publicly visible by default. In some situations, a user may be able tochange the privacy settings to make the information “private” -- so that only approved users canview it. Other information must remain public; the user does not have an option to restrictaccess to it.A social network can change its privacy policy at any time without a user’s permission. (See Howto Read a Privacy Policy) Content that was posted with restrictive privacy settings may becomevisible when a privacy policy is altered.Approved contacts may copy and repost information – including photos – without a user’spermission, potentially bypassing privacy settings.Third-party applications that have been granted access may be able to view information that auser or a user’s contacts post privately.Social networks themselves do not necessarily guarantee the security of the information that hasbeen uploaded to a profile, even when those posts are set to be private. This was demonstrated inone May 2010 incident during which unauthorized users were able to see the private chat logs oftheir contacts on Facebook. While this and other similar bugs are usually quickly fixed, there isgreat potential for taking advantage of leaked information. (See New York Times FacebookGlitch Brings New Privacy Worries)Information Gathered Through Electronic TrackingInformation may also be gathered from a user‟s actions online using “cookies” (short strings oftext stored on one‟s hard drive). Some of the purposes of cookies may include:Tracking which websites a user has viewed.Storing information associated with specific websites (such as items in a shopping cart).Tracking movement from one website to another.Building a profile around a user.In fact, a 2009 study conducted by AT&T Labs and Worcester Polytechnic Institute found thatthe unique identifying code assigned to users by social networks can be matched with behaviortracked by cookies. This means that advertisers and others are able to use information gleanedfrom social networks to build a profile of a user‟s life, including linking browsing habits to one‟strue identity. Read Krishnamurth and Wills 2009 study On the Leakage of PersonallyIdentifiable Information Via Online Social Neworks. Information leakage also occurs in mobileonline social networks, according to Privacy Leakage in Mobile Online Networks, another studyby Krishnamurthy and Wills.To learn more about cookies and how to browse the Internet safely and privately, see PRC FactSheet 18: Privacy and the Internet. To find out if or how a social network uses cookies, see thesocial network‟s privacy policy. (See How to Read a Privacy Policy)4. Who Can Access Information?When posting information to a social network, a user probably expects authorized contacts to be
  15. 15. able to view it. But who else can see it, and what exactly is visible?Entities that collect personal information for legal purposes include:Advertisers interested in personal information so they can better target their ads to those mostlikely to be interested in the productThird-party software developers who incorporate information to personalize applications, suchas an online games that interact with the social networkEntities that collect personal information for illegal purposes include:Identity thieves who obtain personal information either based on information a user posts orthat others post about the user.Other online criminals, such as people planning to scam or harass individuals, or infectcomputers with malware (malicious software placed on a computer without the knowledge ofthe owner).Behavioral AdvertisingSocial networks that provide their services without user fees make a profit by selling advertising.This is often done through behavioral advertising, also known as targeting.Behavioral advertising is the term used to describe the practice of tailoring advertisements to anindividual‟s personal interests. This practice is appealing to marketers because targetedadvertisements are more likely to result in a purchase by a viewer than comparable non-targetedadvertisements. They are valuable to social networks as they can be sold at a higher price thanregular ads. (See The Value of Behavioral Targeting by Howard Beales, sponsored by theNetwork Advertising Initiative)Social networks collect a lot of information about potential customers, which advertisers are veryinterested in using. In some ways, this may be useful to the user because the advertisements he orshe sees may appear more relevant.However there are no limits on the ways advertisers can gather and use the information theygather. The behavioral advertising industry is currently regulating itself. Companies arevoluntarily following principles such as those put forward by the industry group InteractiveAdvertising Bureau (IAB). Read the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online BehavioralAdvertising.There are several concerns regarding behavioral advertising:Consumers may not be aware that data is associated with their profiles.Consumers may not be able to view the data associated with their profiles and have inaccuraciescorrected.There are no maximum retention periods on data and no security requirements for theretention of data, leaving it susceptible to hackers and security risks.
  16. 16. Information about minors may be collected and used for behavioral advertising.Read more about behavioral advertising in PRC‟s Fact Sheet 18 Privacy and the Internet -Behavioral Marketing.Third-Party Applications on Social NetworksWithin the context of social networking, “third-party applications” are programs that interactwith a social network without actually being part of that social network. These applications takemany forms but some typical and popular forms include:Games to play with contactsOnline polls or quizzesSoftware that allows users to post to a social media profile via a cellular phone or webapplicationSome social networks allow program developers to access their platforms in order to create theseapplications. This makes the social network more attractive to users by facilitating thedevelopment of new and creative methods of interacting with contacts and the network.To make these applications useful, social networks may allow developers automatic access topublic information of users. In addition to public information, third-party applications mayaccess some private information. A user may grant a third-party application access to his or herprofile without realizing the extent of the permissions being granted. Users may also mistakenlyassume that third-party applications are held to the same standards as the primary social networkThere are also “rogue” applications which do not follow the policies and terms that governapplications. (See Consumer Reports Apps that bite)Some facts to keep in mind when considering using third-party applications:They may not be covered by the social network’s privacy policy.They may not be guaranteed to be secure.Most social networks do not take responsibility for the third-party applications that interact withtheir sites.They may gain access to more information than is necessary to perform their functions.Sometimes applications are designed only to gather information about usersThey may contain malware designed to attack the user’s computer.Third-party developers may report users’ actions back to the social networking platform.A social network may have agreements with certain websites and applications that allow themaccess to public information of all users of the social network.Third-party applications typically can access information that:Is considered public without explicit consent from the user.Is considered private when a user grants the application permission.
  17. 17. In some instances, once they have received permission from a primary user, the third-partyapplications may also gain access to the personal information of users‟ contacts without thosecontacts granting explicit permission.As a general rule, use caution when using third-party applications. Remember that it is difficultto control what information they are gathering, how they might use it, and who they will share itwith. To learn more about third-party applications, particularly Facebook quizzes, visitDotRights Quiz: What Do Facebook Quizzes Know About Me?Government and Law Enforcement Uses of Social Networking SitesFreedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)with assistance from University of California-Berkeley Samuelson Clinic have shed light onhow government agencies use social networking sites for investigations, data collection andsurveillance.While still incomplete, the documents that have been published indicate:Government agencies, including the U.S. Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service(IRC), have developed training materials instructing employees on how to utilize public profileinformation on social networking sites during investigations.Facebook has been noted as having a reputation for being “cooperative with emergencyrequests” (See .IRS manuals specifically prohibit employees from using “fake identities” in order to “trick” users“into accepting a *government+ official as a friend.” (EFF Posts Documents Detailing LawEnforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites.) However, there is no reason tobelieve law enforcement officers practice similar restraint about creating false profiles.Each social network has adopted its own procedures for dealing with requests from lawenforcement agencies. The degree to which these sites cooperate, or don’t cooperate, withlaw enforcement may not be fully explained in the privacy policy. Currently, the primary lawprotecting information privacy on the Internet, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act,allows government officials to access information on social networks with a subpoena. Readmore about What Laws Protect a User‟s Information Online.View “Obtaining and Using Evidence from Social Networking Sites,” a Justice Departmentpresentation obtained by EFF through FOIA request.EFF states it will publish new documents as they are received on their page FOIA: SocialNetworking Monitoring.Additionally, information on social networking sites has been used as evidence during criminaland civil trials. This includes divorce trials, child custody battles, insurance lawsuits, criminaltrials and cases brought by university police against students for inappropriate behavior orunderage drinking, to name a few. Be aware that information entered as evidence in a court case
  18. 18. could potentially become part of a public record. Read more about public records in PRC FactSheet 11: From Cradle to Grave: Government Records and Your Privacy.The use of social networking sites by law enforcement and government agencies, coupled withthe fact that information on social networking sites can be used as evidence in trials, reinforcesthe importance of using restraint in posting information to your profile.5. Social Networks and Job Searches: Pros and ConsJobseekers have increasingly turned to social networks to market themselves to potentialemployers, network with other professionals and search out job opportunities. However, anunprofessional social networking profile may also make a job applicant seem unsuitable byrevealing too much personal or unflattering information to a potential employer. This sectionreviews the pros and cons of social networking for jobseekers.This information can be applied to any situation where reputation matters, such as:Renting an apartmentBeginning to date someoneStarting or maintaining a professional relationship, for example as an independent contractor orin a managerial positionEngaging in volunteer or electoral positionsApplying for colleges or scholarshipsBeing considered in a jury selection processHow Social Networks May Assist JobseekersThere are a variety of ways social networks can help with the job hunt. If a job applicant initiallycontacts a potential employer via the Internet, a profile on a social network can help confirm thatthere is a real person behind an email address.Social networks also increase networking opportunities. A job applicant can alert others to aninterest in finding a job, as well as details on the desired position, by posting about this intereston a social network. Professional networks, such as LinkedIn, are designed to provideinformation about education, employment history and accomplishments to a large number ofpeople. There are also professional or interest groups on a variety of networks that can increasevisibility and contacts.Potential employers can use social networks to confirm that an applicant has represented his orher interests, education level and background truthfully. They can also learn about otherinterests an applicant may have. Individuals who create positive, interesting and informativesocial networking profiles may seem like stronger candidates for certain jobs. This is especiallytrue of, but not limited to, jobs involving outreach and communication.How Social Networks May Hinder Jobseekers
  19. 19. Social networks may inadvertently reveal information jobseekers might not choose to revealabout themselves. Potential employers often use whatever information they can gather about anapplicant in making a hiring decision. It is important to know what information can be seen bynon-contacts and to consider what kind of conclusions might be drawn from it.Unflattering pictures or posts could seriously affect the likelihood of getting hired. Even if oneposts this information using restrictive privacy settings, there are many ways in which it maybecome available.As a general rule, before posting something on a social networking profile, imagine it displayedon a billboard on the side of a highway. Would you be uncomfortable to see it there? If so, youmay not want to post it at all.While it is illegal and very hard to prove, potential employers might discriminate based oninformation available from profile pictures and other easily available information on one‟s socialnetworking profile. Be aware of revealing even basic information such as:AgeGenderRaceDisabilitySexual orientationPolitical affiliationsOther groups and contactsAlso, negative posts about a current job could harm an applicant‟s chances of getting an offer.The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a law that not only regulates credit reports but also setsnational standards for employment screening and background checks. In effect, it sets limits onwhat information employers can get from background checks and how they can use thatinformation (see PRC Fact Sheet 16: Employment Background Checks: A Jobseekers Guide).However, the FCRA only applies to employers using third-party screening companies.Information that an employer gathers independently, including from informal Internet searches,is not covered by the FCRA.How Social Media Networks Can Get You FiredEmployers are increasingly monitoring what employees post on social networking sites. In fact,many companies have social media policies that limit what you can and cannot post on socialnetworking sites about your employer.Many companies have social media policies that limit what you can and cannot post on socialnetworking sites about your employer. A website called Compliance Building has a database ofsocial media policies for hundreds of companies. You should ask your supervisor or humanresources department what the policy is for your company.
  20. 20. Some states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, North Dakota and New York, havelaws that prohibit employers from disciplining an employee based on off-duty activity on socialnetworking sites, unless the activity can be shown to damage the company in some way. Ingeneral, posts that are work-related have the potential to cause the company damage. Anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from disciplining employees based on age, race, color,religion, national origin or gender. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, contact alawyer. You can find a lawyer who specializes in employment law via the National EmploymentLawyers Association. For more information on the laws surrounding social media in theworkplace, Social Networking: A Workplace PolicyThe Portland Press Herald: Your Business: Make Your Social Policy ClearThere is no federal law that we are aware of that an employer is breaking by monitoringemployees on social networking sites. In fact, employers can even hire third-party companies tomonitor online employee activity for them. In March, 2010 a company called Teneros launched a"Social Sentry" service that tracks the online activity of employees across social networkingsites. According to an article by Read Write Web employers use the service to "make sure thatemployees dont leak sensitive information on social networks or engage in any behavior thatcould damage a companys reputation."The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a number of rulings involving questionsabout employer social media policies. The NLRB has indicated that these cases are extremelyfact-specific. It has provided the following general guidance:Employer policies should not be so sweeping that they prohibit the kinds of activity protected byfederal labor law, such as the discussion of wages or working conditions among employees.An employee’s comments on social media are generally not protected if they are mere gripesnot made in relation to group activity among employees. Also see Anonymity on Social NetworksMany users of social networks choose to mask their real identities. This may be done viaanonymity (providing no name at all) or pseudonymity (providing a false name).Some people who may prefer an anonymous or pseudonymous persona include, but are notlimited to:Individuals with medical conditions who want to discuss symptoms and treatment withoutcreating a public record of their conditionBloggers and activists engaging in political discourse, especially on controversial issuesTeachers and childcare workersMedical professionals, including mental health professionals
  21. 21. Law enforcement agents, prosecutors, parole and probation officers, judges, and other courtemployeesVictims of stalking, sexual assault, and domestic violenceChildren and youthJobseekersIn fact, anonymity is a useful tool for anyone who prefers to keep a strict separation between anonline persona and an off-line identity. It can also be abused by individuals trying to shield theiridentities while engaging in illegal activities.Typically, users who prefer to engage in social networks without divulging their true identitywill create profiles using a false name as well as a false email address. If you are considering apseudonymous profile, refer to the terms of service for the social networking site. Providing falseor incomplete information violates the terms of service of some social networking sites. Usersshould consider using software that masks IP addresses, such as TOR. Users should alsoremember to delete all cookies after visiting a social networking site. See PRC‟s discussion ofcookies in PRC Fact Sheet 18: Privacy and the Internet -- Cookies.Bear in mind that it is difficult to truly separate online and off-line identities. It is possible todivulge identifying information through status updates, group memberships, photographs, friendnetworks and other indicators. In fact, numerous studies have shown that anonymized data canoften still be linked to specific individuals.Read more about anonymization issues:PRC’s Privacy Today: Data AnonymizationArvind Narayanan and Vitaly Shmatikov’s paper, De-anonymizing Social NetworksThe Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Anonymity page7. What Laws Protect a User‟s Information Online?There are currently few laws that can be interpreted as protecting information given to socialnetworks. Most privacy laws in the United States protect specific types of information, such asmedical or financial records. Some laws that do protect the privacy of information do notcurrently extend to casual information searches on the Internet (see FCRA, previous section) orto information revealed by the user, such as a quiz about health that provides information to drugcompanies. (See New York Times Online Age Quiz Is a Window for Drug Makers).The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was passed in 1986, before the Internet became anessential means of communication. If information is stored on a server (such as the informationon social networks), this law makes it easy for law enforcement or the government to access itvia a subpoena. A variety of industry and advocacy organizations are lobbying to update thislaw. The proposed update would strengthen the requirements needed for governmental access tothe data stored on a server by necessitating a search warrant. Information about location is alsonot strongly protected under ECPA. (See Digital Due Process)The Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires that websites directed at
  22. 22. children under 13 must limit their data collection and usage in certain ways. There are alsolimitations on the information that can be sent to advertisers (see PRC Fact Sheet 21: Children‟sOnline Privacy: A Resource Guide for Parents). Some social networks therefore do not allowusers under 13.The California Online Privacy Act (California Business and Professions Code sections 22575-22579) requires any website that collects personally identifiable information on Californiaconsumers to conspicuously post an online privacy policy. This privacy policy must describewhat categories of information are collected, what categories of third-parties may be authorizedto view this information, how the website owner will notify consumers about changes to thepolicy and the effective date of the policy. Websites without a privacy policy have 30 dayswithin being notified of the law to comply. See a sample letter to a website about the need topost a privacy policy.Several states have enacted legislation protecting employees, job applicants, and students fromemployers and educational institutions that require them to provide a user name or password fora social media account. California, Maryland, Michigan and Illinois have enacted legislationthat prohibits requesting or requiring an employee or applicant to disclose their user name orpassword. California, New Jersey, Michigan and Delaware enacted legislation prohibitinghigher education institutions from requiring students to disclose social media passwords oraccount information. For a current list of state laws see Reading a Privacy PolicyMany people skip over the privacy policy when joining a social network. However, users canglean a lot of useful information by reviewing a privacy policy before signing up for service. Asocial network‟s privacy policy will explain how the social network will collect and useinformation about people who visit the site.Some of the information users provide to a social network is readily apparent -- such asproviding a birth date in order to create a new account.Other times, the social network may be collecting information on users “invisibly” – by trackingwhere users go within the social network, what links they click on and even which websites theyvisit after leaving the social networking site. “Invisible” tracking is often accomplished throughcookies. (Read more about cookies on PRC Fact Sheet 18: Privacy and the Internet -- Cookies)When reviewing a privacy policy, remember:Privacy policies can change – sometimes dramatically-- after a user creates an account.Terms of service may have information just as important as the privacy policy, so always reviewthose as well.The privacy policy only covers the social network. It does not, for example, cover third-partyapplications that interact with the website.
  23. 23. Unfortunately, most privacy policies are long and difficult to understand. Here are some pointsto consider when reading a privacy policy:Start at the end. The most important portions of a privacy policy are often at the very end. Forexample, the end of the document typical provides contact information for a privacy contact atthe company as well as the most important facts about how personally identifiable informationis used. So, when pressed for time, look to the end of the document.Note the location and language of the privacy policy. Is it hidden away on a hard-to-findwebpage or can it be found easily? Does the language seem excessively vague orincomprehensible?Canceling your account. If you decide to leave the social network, can you delete the accountand remove all of your information? Can all data be removed entirely or will some informationbe maintained by the social network? Be aware that some social networks may make it difficultor confusing to cancel an account and instead direct dissatisfied users to “deactivate” accounts.How long is personal information stored? Note that some information may be made‘anonymous’ after a certain period of time, some may be deleted entirely after a certain periodof time, and some may be maintained in perpetuity.What happens when a user dies? Does the privacy policy discuss what happens to personalinformation after a user dies? Will it remain online or be removed?Who owns the data that a user posts? Does a user lose rights to information that he or sheposts? Can it be used by marketers without the user’s explicit consent? For example, can auser’s name and photos be used for advertisements?|How can a user complain? Look for a physical address, email address, website address or phonenumber where users can voice concerns. Some online social networks utilize independentcompanies to review their privacy practices. In such cases, users who are dissatisfied by acompany’s compliance to the posted privacy policy can submit complaints to the certifyingcompany.How will a social network notify users about changes to the privacy policy? Will changes beposted to the homepage or will it only be posted in the privacy policy itself? Can users connectwith a public profile on the social network that will inform them of changes to the privacy policy,or is there a way to receive an email if changes are made?Does the social network participate in seal programs? Social networks that participate in third-party seal or certification programs show some level of awareness of privacy concerns. This alsogives users another place to voice concerns if any should arise. Some well-known companiesinclude the Better Business Bureau, Verisign and Truste. However, never assume that a third-party certification means the social network will always respect users’ privacy and security.Learn more about reading a privacy policy by visiting:California Office of Privacy Protection’s How To Read a Privacy Policy
  24. 24. GetNetWise’s How to Read a Privacy PolicyYahoo’s Reading Privacy PoliciesAlso, try seeing what others have said about the policy. A simple Internet search could turn upthoughtful analysis of the policy, especially if the social network has been in the news.9. Fraud on Social NetworksCriminals may use social networks to connect with potential victims. This section discussessome of the typical scams and devices used to defraud consumers on social networks. Fraudmay involve more than one of the techniques described below. Some types of fraud may not bedescribed here.Identity TheftIdentity thieves use an individual‟s personal information to pretend to be them – often forfinancial gain. The information users post about themselves on social networks may make itpossible for an identity thief to gather enough information to steal an identity. In 2009,researchers at Carnegie University Mellon published a study showing that it is possible to predictmost and sometimes all of an individual‟s 9-digit Social Security number using informationgleaned from social networks and online databases. (See Predicting Social Security Numbersfrom Public Data by Acquisti and Gross)Information often targeted by identity thieves includes:PasswordsBank account informationCredit card numbersInformation stored on a user’s computer such as contactsAccess to the user’s computer without his or her consent (for example, through malware)Social Security numbers. Remember that the key to identity theft is the Social Security number.Never provide a Social Security number through a social networking service.Some fraud techniques to watch out for include:Illegitimate third-party applications. These rogue applications may appear similar to other third-party applications but are designed specifically to gather information. This information may besold to marketers but could also be useful in committing identity theft. These applications mayappear as games, quizzes or questionnaires in the format of “What Kind of Famous Person AreYou?” (See ABCs Online Games Can Lead to Identity Theft)False connection requests. Scammers may create fake accounts on social networks and thensolicit others to connect with them. These fake accounts may use the names of real people,including acquaintances, or may be entirely imaginary. Once the connection request isaccepted, a scammer may be able to see restricted and private information on a user’s profile.(See ReadWriteWebs Fake Social Networking Profiles: a New Form of Identity Theft in 2009)
  25. 25. Learn more about protecting yourself from identity theft in general by reading PRC Fact Sheet17: Coping with Identity Theft: Reducing the Risk of Fraud. If you believe you may be thevictim of identity theft, read PRC Fact Sheet 17a: Identity Theft: What to Do if It Happens toYou.MalwareMalware (malicious software) is a term that describes a wide range of programs that install on auser‟s computer often through the use of trickery. Malware can spread quickly on a socialnetwork, infecting the computer of a user and then spreading to his or her contacts. This isbecause the malware may appear to come from a trusted contact, and thus users are more likelyto click on links and/or download malicious programs.Some common techniques used in spreading malware include:Shortened URLs, particularly on status update networks or newsfeeds. These may lead the userto download a virus or visit a website that will attempt to load malware on a user’s computer.Messages that appear to be from trusted contacts that encourage a user to click on a link, view avideo or download a file.An email appearing to be from the social network itself, asking for information or requesting auser click on a link.Third-party applications that infect computers with malicious software and spread it tocontacts.Fake security alerts – applications that pose as virus protection software and inform the userthat his or her security software is out-of-date or a threat has been detected.Social EngineeringThere are a variety of social engineering scamming techniques which trick users into enteringsensitive information. This section describes a few of the well-known techniques.Phishing attacks are when emails, instant messages or other messages claiming to be from atrusted source ask for information. For example, an email may appear to be from a bank andcould direct a user to enter a password at a fake login page, or tell a user to call a phone numberor risk having their account closed. For tips on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks, see FTCAlert How Not to Get Hooked by a Phishing Scam and OnGuardOnlines Phishing page. SomeInternet browsers, such as recent versions of Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, have takensteps to help identify fake websites. (See GetSafe Onlines Avoid Criminal Websites for these andother tips.)Spear phishing is a type of phishing attack that appears to be from a colleague, employer orfriend and includes a link or something to download. (This is often the result of accounthijacking.) These links or downloads can be malicious, such as viruses or fake websites thatsolicit personal information.Misleading solicitations. A social network might use social engineering to make people feelobligated to join. This often occurs when one person joins and (often inadvertently) provides the
  26. 26. social network with access to his or her contact list. The social network then sends out emails toall of his or her contacts, often implying they are from the individual who joined. For example, ithas been reported that solicits contacts of users with emails claiming the recipienthas been “tagged.” These emails state: “Is <user name> your friend? Please respond or <username> may think you said no :( ” or “<user name> sent you photos on Tagged.” The recipientmay believe this is a personal invitation from the user and feel obligated to join the network,giving out his or her information and perhaps perpetuating the solicitations. See Times Tagged:The Worlds Most Annoying Website for more information.Hijacked accounts. A legitimate account may be taken over by an identity thief or malware forthe purpose of fraud such as posting spam, sending out malware, stealing the private data ofcontacts or even soliciting contacts to send money. One typical scenario is when a hijackedaccount sends out messages stating that the account owner is overseas and in desperate straits.Contacts are urged to immediately wire money. A user may not realize his or her account hasbeen hijacked for quite some time. An attack could also be in the form of a chat conversation.10. Tips to Stay Safe, Private and SecureThere are many ways that information on social networks can be used for purposes other thanwhat the user intended. Below are some practical tips to help users minimize the privacy riskswhen using social networks. Be aware that these tips are not 100% effective. Any time youchoose to engage with social networking sites, you are taking certain risks. Common sense,caution and skepticism are some of the strongest tools you have to protect yourself.Registering an Account1. Use a strong password different from the passwords you use to access other sites. See PRC’s 10Rules for Creating a Hacker-Resistant Password1. If you are asked to provide security questions, use information that others would not knowabout you.2. Never provide a work-associated email to a social network, especially when signing up. Considercreating a new email address strictly to connect with your social networking profile(s).3. Consider not using your real name, especially your last name. Be aware that this may violate theterms of service of some social networks.4. Review the privacy policy and terms of service before signing up for an account.5. Be sure to keep strong antivirus and spyware protection on your computer. See Fact Sheet 36:Securing Your Computer to Maintain Your Privacy6. Provide only information that is necessary or that you feel comfortable providing. When indoubt, err on the side of providing less information. Remember, you can always provide moreinformation to a social network, but you can’t always remove information once it’s been posted.
  27. 27. 7. During the registration process, social networks often solicit a new user to provide an emailaccount password so the social network can access the user’s email address book. The socialnetwork promises to connect the new user with others they may already know on the network.To be safe, don’t provide this information at all. There are some social networks that capture allof a user’s email contacts and then solicit them – often repeatedly – to join. These messagesmay even appear to be from the original user. If you consider providing an email address andaccount password to a social network, read all agreements very carefully before clicking onthem.General Tips for Using Social Networks1. Become familiar with the privacy settings available on any social network you use. OnFacebook, make sure that your default privacy setting is "Friends Only". Alternatively, use the"Custom" setting and configure the setting to achieve maximum privacy.2. Don’t share your birthday, age, or place of birth. This information could be useful to identitythieves and to data mining companies. A research study by Carnegie Mellon University foundthat Social Security numbers can be predicted based on publicly-available information, includingyour birthday, age and place of birth. The Social Security Administration began assigningrandomized number series on June 25, 2011. Unfortunately, the more predictable SocialSecurity numbers will remain in effect for individuals born before June 25, 2011. If you doconsider posting your birthday, age or place of birth, restrict who has access to this informationusing the site’s privacy settings. Also, some social networking sites allow you to show your birthmonth and day, but hide the year.3. Stay aware of changes to a social network’s terms of service and privacy policy. You may be ableto keep track of this by connecting to an official site profile, for example Facebook’s SiteGovernance. Consider subscribing to an RSS feed for Tosback, a project of the ElectronicFrontier Foundation to track changes in website policies (covers some but not all socialnetworks).4. Be careful when you click on shortened links. Consider using a URL expander (as an applicationadded to your browser or a website you visit) to examine short URLs before clicking on them.Example of URL expanders include LongURL, Clybs URL Expander and Long URL Please (PrivacyRights Clearinghouse does not endorse one URL expander over another.)5. Be very cautious of pop-up windows, especially any that state your security software is out ofdate or that security threats and/or viruses have been detected on your computer. Use yourtask manager to navigate away from these without clicking on them, then run your spyware andvirus protection software.6. Delete cookies, including flash cookies, every time you leave a social networking site. See PRCFact Sheet 18: Privacy and the Internet
  28. 28. 7. Remember that whatever goes on a network might eventually be seen by people not in theintended audience. Think about whether you would want a stranger, your mother or a potentialboss to see certain information or pictures. Unless they are glowing, dont post opinions aboutyour company, clients, products and services. Be especially cautious about photos of you onsocial networks, even if someone else placed them there. Don’t be afraid to untag photos ofyourself and ask to have content removed.8. Don’t publicize vacation plans, especially the dates you’ll be traveling. Burglars can use thisinformation to rob your house while you are out of town.9. If you use a location-aware social network, don’t make public where your home is becausepeople will know when you are not there. (See Please Rob Me - Raising Awareness aboutOversharing) In fact, you should be careful when posting any sort of location or using geotaggingfeatures because criminals may use it to secretly track your location. For the same reason, becareful not to share your daily routine. Posting about walking to work, where you go on yourlunch break, or when you head home is risky because it may allow a criminal to track you.10. Be aware that your full birth date, especially the year, may be useful to identity thieves. Don’tpost it, or at a minimum restrict who has access to it.11. Don’t post your address, phone number or email address on a social network. Remember scamartists as well as marketing companies may be looking for this kind of information. If you dochoose to post any portion of this, use privacy settings to restrict it to approved contacts.12. Use caution when using third-party applications. For the highest level of safety and privacy,avoid them completely. If you consider using one, review the privacy policy and terms of servicefor the application. WhatApp? rates applications, browsers, platforms and social networks onprivacy, security and openness. While this rating system is still under development and is not aguarantee that an application is safe, it may provide users with additional information whenmaking a decision about whether to use an application.13. If you receive a request to connect with someone and recognize the name, verify the accountholder’s identity before accepting the request. Consider calling the individual, sending an emailto his or her personal account or even asking a question only your contact would be able toanswer.14. If you receive a connection request from a stranger, the safest thing to do is to reject therequest. If you decide to accept the request, use privacy settings to limit what information isviewable to the stranger and be cautious of posting personal information to your account, suchas your current location as well as personally identifiable information.15. Be wary of requests for money, even if they are from contacts you know and trust. If a contact’saccount is compromised, a scam artist may use his or her name and account to attempt todefraud others through bogus money requests.16. Take additional precautions if you are the victim of stalking, harassment or domestic violence.See PRC Fact Sheet 14: Are You Being Stalked?
  29. 29. 17. In the event that your social networking account is compromised, report it to the siteimmediately and alert your contacts. You will need to change passwords, but proceed withcaution because your computer security may have been compromised. Malware, including key-logging software, may have been installed on your computer. If you use online banking, do notlog on from the computer that may have been compromised until you have ensured yourcomputer security is intact.18. Prune your "friends" list on a regular basis. Its easy to forget who youve friended over time,and therefore who you are sharing information with.19. If you are using a social networking site that offers video chatting, pay attention to the light onyour computer that indicates whether or not your webcam is in use. This will help you avoidbeing "caught on camera" by accident.20. Be sure to log off from social networking sites when you no longer need to be connected. Thismay reduce the amount of tracking of your web surfing and will help prevent strangers frominfiltrating your account.Read more helpful tips at EFFs Top 12 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy.11. ResourcesNonprofit ResourcesDotRights Social Networking Page, Frontier Foundation’s “Top 12 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy,” Social Networking Privacy,, Terms-of-Service Tracker, & Your Privacy (Consumer Reports, June 2012), ResourcesCalifornia Department of Justice’s Privacy Enforcement and Protection Units “How to Read aPrivacy Policy,” Attorney General, Privacy on the Go: Recommendations for the Mobile EcosystemInternet Crime Complaint Center,, www.onguardonline.govAdditional ResourcesAcquisti, Alessandro and Ralph Gross. “Predicting Social Security Numbers from Public Data.”, Danah and Nicole Ellison. “Social Networking Sites: Definitions, History and Scholarship.”
  30. 30. Andrew Couts, "Facebooks Data Use Policy Explained" "The Always Up-to-Date Guide to Managing Your Facebook Privacy" Times "Tool Kit: Protecting Your Privacy on the New Facebook" (February 6, 2013), Rights Clearinghouse ResourcesPRC Fact Sheet 16: Employment Background Checks: A Jobseeker’s Fact Sheet 18: Privacy and the Internet: Traveling in Cyberspace Fact Sheet 18a: Online Privacy FAQ Fact Sheet 21: Children’s Online Privacy: A Resource Guide for Fact Sheet 21a: Children’s Safety on the Internet Fact Sheet 36: Securing Your Computer to Maintain Your Privacy, Donald Carrington. “MySpace Isn’t Your Space: Expanding the Fair Credit Reporting Act toEnsure Accountability and Fairness in Employer Searches of Online Social Networking Services” thanks to intern Sarah Pipes, candidate for a degree of Master of Science of Information,School of Information, University of Michigan (May 2010)Tags:Online Privacy & TechnologyFact Sheetbehavioral marketingcookiesFacebookinternetjob seekerslocation trackingpasswordprivacy policyscamsocial networkingthird-party applicationsSend to Printer
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