Recently there has been a lot of talk about privacy in social networks, due to the case of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica and the recent implementation of the GDPR law.
How much is our information worth?
Have you ever read the terms and conditions of the social networks you use or the sites to which you provide your information? If you did, you probably found yourself with phrases like these:
“In relation to content with intellectual property rights (property content), such as photos and videos, you specifically grant us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable license, with the possibility of being suborned, free of copyright and globally applicable to use any intellectual property content that you post on Facebook or in relation to Facebook “
“By using an application, it may ask you for permission to access your content and information, as well as the content and information that other people have shared with you. We demand that the applications respect your privacy settings, and it will be your agreement with the application in question that will govern the way in which it will use, store and transfer the content and information that you share. “
“You give us permission to use your name and profile picture and information about actions you have taken on Facebook next to or in connection with ads, offers, and other sponsored content that we display across our Products, without any compensation to you“.
Worrying, right? The idea is not that you become paranoid, close your social networks or live offline, it is simply that you are aware of what happens with your information and can act accordingly.
Regardless of the warnings of security specialists, and how much has been said about the risk to the privacy of the data that implies blindly accepting the terms and conditions, it is known that the vast majority of users do not read them. Why? Because they are usually extensive, in small print, and for many it is a custom to look directly for the “I have read and accept the terms and conditions” box to automatically mark it.
Well, there is an online tool designed to help make sense of tricky to understand terms and conditions – Terms of Service; Did not Read. The project analyses the terms of services for you and classifies them according to how invasive they are.
“We are a user rights initiative to rate and label website terms & privacy policies, from very good Class A to very bad Class E. Terms of service are often too long to read, but it’s important to understand what’s in them. Your rights online depend on them. We hope that our ratings can help you get informed about your rights”.
Places like Facebook, Google and Instagram are not necessarily “free”, we pay with the information we share. So it’s now more important than ever to know what you are agreeing to when signing up to various web services.
Recently, companies have had to adapt to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules. The regulation was approved by the European Parliament in 2016, as a response to the concern for coexistence between technological innovation and respect for the privacy of users. The application of this regulation is extendable to all companies that collect, store and process personal information of European citizens. With this regulation, the European Parliament seeks to standardise all legislation regarding data protection in all member states, so that any citizen is guaranteed access, control, visualisation and the right to delete the data that companies collected in the digital environment and through the internet. GDPR contributes to improving security mechanisms to prevent third parties from accessing that information for purposes not consented to by users and ensures that citizens should be informed of what data companies collect and for what purpose, for which they must have the explicit consent.
How does GDPR affect companies?
To enforce these laws, the regulators can fine companies that do not comply, with up to 4% of their income. Although this may not seem like much, for a company like Amazon, it’s just over 7 billion dollars.
The way we see it, the GDPR can only affect users positively, as it will improve the quality of communications between companies and their online users. Further, a benefit for companies is that with the explicit consent of users, it is guaranteed that the products and services offered reach people who are really interested, which increases the likelihood of conversion and consumer loyalty.
Some tips to protect your privacy
Although there are a lot of things that are out of our control in the way the companies manage our information, it’s important that users are informed and can configure their privacy properly making sure that all data protection in social networks is respected. Here are some tips to keep in mind when online:
1: Keep an eye on your privacy settings of your social media accounts: E.g. make sure that the configuration of the privacy only allows access to the information you share to those people that you have previously selected and accepted as “friends”.
2: Use incognito browsing: the incognito browsing offered by all browsers does not save certain data, which is useful when it comes to avoiding the advertising algorithm. In addition, if this option is used in a computer that is not the usual one, no data of passwords, used accounts or history will be saved.
3: Keep in mind that all the “gimmicky” applications that tell you how you would you look as the other sex, which Disney princess you are or what historical character you were in your past life, are all applications that require access to your publications, your contacts and in general, to all your information.
4: Be mindful of the type of information that is uploaded and shared: Not only of the free data you provide, but also personal comments or pictures. Being aware of your online persona can help you avoid tricky situations such as potential employers finding out information you would rather have kept quiet.