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 ServiceĀ  (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.