The Rules of the Game: Cyber Ethics, Part I

17 02 2009

Get online and post a profile picture. I dare you.

No, really, go ahead.

Just make sure I’d like it…

We all know that what we put online stays online. It can never really be deleted. But what if you knew that the sites sponsoring said info were not only not protecting the raw data, but were also actively selling it to others?

It has come to my attention over and over again that this is the case – I even interviewed for a company last spring that was able to put a mini bio together about me from information they had “collected.” Now, as a company, I don’t blame them. If they have a way of buying info about me… so be it. Do what you need to. But I do blame the company leaking my info in the first place. Employers should have to work to get my information – either in form of interview, resume, application and/or actually setting up a profile on social networking sites in order to talk with me.

After all, do I get to know about the secret lives of my immediate boss (I would use CEO… but I am sure I would get comments telling me that I do in fact read news stories about their scandals)? No. I don’t get to know the secret inner workings. And they do post things online – I would just have to know where to look.

Facebook disagrees.

This especially bothers me, since, as part of my PR Campaigns class my last semester… we are working for a client that teaches cyber ethics. I didn’t take it seriously at first – the idea, not the project. I didn’t take it seriously, because most of the time my mantra is that if you haven’t protected your information, it wasn’t important enough to copyright.

But now, after reading this article, this breaks even my rules.

Basically, Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, has said that he can change the Terms of Service  (TOS) at any given time without alerting users. See, here, users believe they have protected their information… but to no avail. In fact, Zuckerberg has gone on to say:

We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change or delete portions of these terms at any time without further notice. Your continued use of the Facebook service after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new terms.

Does this annoy you? I am sure it does. And I don’t mind my information being out there. But I do mind a contractual evil.

So my questions to users are as follows:

  • Does this bother you?
  • Where do you draw the line?
  • Why?

Based on that, I will introduce Part II of this.

–JMS–

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3 responses

17 02 2009
Robert French

That’s the Mark Zuckerberg way … think of the Beacon ads, etc. He programmed a great software platform, but is sadly clueless about his customers and how to reach out to them. Sad, really.

Add to that the realization recently that his empire is only worth what … about 1/5 of its previously reported value? This latest issue added to that … and you have a sad state of affairs all around.

Of course, he’s not hurting financially and this just helps him secure his rights to what’s on his site.

Now, he does have a good point about the issues of sharing & ownership being at odds with one another. Who will figure that out and make it work? I have no idea.

As many people have said since this all happened, we should all just accept that (laws or no laws) once you put something online … you’ve lost any hope of retaining any ownership (real or perceived).

18 02 2009
mirandanichole

The thing that really bothers me is that you can’t control who tags you in what. As far as I can tell there’s no way to turn off the tagging feature. I’ve heard (but not sure that it’s true) that you once you’ve been tagged in something, the person who tagged you has to take it off for it to disappear permanently (like anything is permanent on the internet). Since Facebook’s main audience are those in high school and college sometimes people are maliciously tagged in photos and what not. That part is just not fair. Law prohibits your record as a minor from being disclosed, Facebook does not.

22 02 2009
Joe

the fact that Facebook change their TOS back so quickly is like an admission that they knew they were wrong

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