Social networking and privacy

A user’s best defense of social network websites is an education of the hazards they possess.

Last week, the social network empire Facebook created quite the stir among its users when it discretely changed its terms of service to virtually give the company full control âÄî or ownership âÄî of a userâÄôs uploaded content. The company deleted provisions that originally gave users control to remove their content at any time while adding language that enabled it to retain a userâÄôs content even after their profile was terminated. After news broke of the new invasive language in its policy, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerburg quickly rolled back to the original terms of use amid criticism. This episode is not the only time Facebook has forced questionable practices on its users. In 2007, the company employed a new advertising service named Beacon that monitors usersâÄô habits when users are logged onto and even logged off of Facebook and displays advertisements based on the information it collects. But what made Beacon so unique was how it sporadically published the advertisements to the public news feed and associated it with the user, effectively creating a privacy disaster. Groups that attracted thousands of users were created to educate the masses on the potential harmful affects Beacon could cause, and again because of the high controversy from them, Facebook eventually made Beacon optional. Facebook has proven that it has the right for full and absolute power over its users. But over time, one asset in particular has proven to be valuable for powerless users everywhere: education on the issue. Through all the privacy debacles that social network sites have imposed on its users, education has countered the illogical moves rightfully. Through the spread of knowledge, users can overcome the deceptive practices that social networking websites have tried to employ for the last few years.