People certainly don’t feel at ease when they realise their information is being used and they didn’t clearly authorise it. The fine print disclaimer is a legal agreement, and it is binding us users as we tick the box “agree”, whether we read it or not. There surely is a certain extent to the authority we give to the social platform when we join it, and to a third party when we allow its application to share certain details about our profile. All these measures are carefully examined between the different sides sharing information, and the wording of privacy disclaimers are well chosen to contain the authority of use and distribution of specific data. When we simply don’t read them, we cannot pretend that they don’t apply.
Social media can be regarded as the virtual life of the new era, an electronic place where people meet and make new acquaintances, share thoughts and engage in topics of interest, without having to physically move from their house or work place. Its convenience and ease of access is behind its popularity.
This is only one side view of the truth about social media, which on the other side shows its wider side and actual reality of being a great tool for benefits and huge revenues. It is all about numbers and values: count of users, posts, likes, followers, and most importantly dollars. A personal post or shared photo are assessed by the number of likes and comments they get, and will accordingly be translated into degrees of user’s satisfaction. Similarly, for a researcher, a journalist or a business such figures and detailed numeric data can be of a greater significance in terms of dollars, results and performance.
Numbers also say that the value of Facebook is over hundred milliards dollars, and that the company recently bought Whatsapp, with its 450 million users for 16 Milliards dollars. Those amounts were certainly not spent to provide a free service allowing users to meet and communicate about “anything”! Those figures represent in fact, how much those users worth, and this value includes their details and the information they share, the websites they visit and like and many more of their “offline” daily activities, all of which make the contents that will be resold and generate profits.
Tightening the levels of privacy on social media will defeat its purpose to be a great tool for revenues and benefits. The only way to protect ones privacy is to opt out of social media, a choice that could be a double sided sword in the new digital world.