People certainly don’t feel at ease when they realise that their information is being used if they don’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 this 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 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 their interest, without physically having to move from their house or work place. Its convenience and ease of access is behind its popularity.
On the other hand, and what I consider to be the truth about social media is that it is 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 satisfaction of the user. 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 or paid for a free service that allows users to meet and communicate about “irrelevant” matters. 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, the contents that will be resold and make the profit.
Tightening the levels of privacy on social media will defeat its purpose which is 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.