Social Networks: Is Big Brother Watching You?

written by Cathy,SnorkelingOnline

This does not include only online ecommerce sellers, this involves everyone who is involved in social networking. Make time to read this report, that was released last month, On the Leakage of Personally Identifiable Information Via Online Social Networks.

Over half a billion people are on various Online Social Networks (OSNs) and have made available a vast amount of personal information on these OSNs. OSN users make movements around the Internet can now be tracked not just as an IP address, but be associated with the unique identifier used to store information about users on an OSN. This OSN identifier is a pointer to PII about the user. Cookies and other tracking mechanisms on the Internet have been prevalent for a long time. The general claim of aggregators is that they create profiles of users based on their Internet behavior, but do not gather or record PII. Although we do not know that aggregators are recording PII, we demonstrate with this work that it is undeniable that information is available to them. Aggregators do not have to take any action to receive this information. As part of requests, they receive OSN identifiers with pointers to the PII or in some cases, directly receive pieces of PII. This PII information can be joined with information from tracking cookies obtained from the user’s traversal to any site that triggers a visit to the same aggregator. The ability to link information across traversals on the Internet coupled with the wide range of daily actions performed by hundreds of millions of users on the Internet raises privacy issues, particularly to the extent users may not understand the consequences of having their PII information available to aggregators.

While most social networks do have a policy that state that they do provide non-identifiable information to third parties for advertisers, but what they dont tell you is that with the advanced technology, they can now allow third parties to access your user name, birth date, sex, social security numbers, etc. and other linable personable identifiable information that can identify the user. Is this violating their private policies? Be cautious of what private information you put about yourself and your business.

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