HumanIPO: Why in your opinion, do social media platforms continuously revise their contracts pertaining to their users’ privacy?
Console: The continuous revisions of privacy policies and contracts is an attempt to get users to share increasing amounts of information, even if they’re not necessarily at ease doing so.
I’m not comfortable saying outright that these companies are disrespecting your privacy, but its certainly these constant changes undermine that trust.
In your opinion, why do social media platforms load their contracts or terms and conditions with jargon and other unintelligible content?
As an attorney, I respect that any legal document needs to be thorough and specific. The problem is that social media sites go overboard with their thoroughness and fill policies with jargon that makes it incomprehensible to the average reader.
Even if you could dissect the jargon to figure out what the policies are actually saying, most users simply will not spend the time to do so, nor should they have to.
Why do sites do this? In part, it might be a way for these companies to protect themselves legally. It could be a way of setting the stage for future business - selling user content to advertisers, should they choose to do so.
We give out our information too easily, often in exchange for deals on real or virtual products and services. I personally would like to see companies make their privacy policies more user-friendly and see the end of this trend of requiring personal data in exchange for the use of smartphone apps and deals.
We users would then need to uphold our end of the bargain by actually reading these simplified policies.
What advice would you give to a person whose privacy or rights have been violated by a social networking platform or a third party company?
I would advise a social networking platform’s user to seek legal help in the event that the site or a third party company inappropriately used their photographs or other personal information.
Given the fact social media platforms have confusing privacy policies as well as fraudsters cloning Facebook profiles and performing “Like farming” scams, are social media platforms more harmful than beneficial?
I think it depends on the intention behind the use of social media. It’s all about weighing the benefits versus the risk. For individuals, does the opportunity to connect with friends and relatives across the world outweigh the risk that “private” information could become available to the public? For businesses, do the risks overshadow the added publicity that comes from social media attention?
The answer will vary based on the person or company, but I don’t believe the majority of individuals and businesses using social media platforms will stop doing so. I do, however, think there are ways for individuals and businesses using Facebook and other social media platforms to minimise the risk of private information be shared publicly via social media, or at least prevent... disastrous consequences if such a privacy violation occurs.
In my opinion, minimising this risk starts with being careful what information is shared.