Sunday, December 18, 2011

Facebook, G+, Twitter... Keep your eyes on the ball!

Let’s talk about Social Networks platforms. What is that? Well, nowadays everybody knows what is Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, web sites focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and activities. If you use them, you probably spend a lot of time on the net sharing photos of your last trip, updating your status, commenting your friend’s posts and sharing silly things. It’s really cool, it’s great when your friends like your post, it’s great when you know about that friend you met five years ago in that amazing holidays, it’s great when you know about that friend from your childhood who now lives far away of you. Having that tool in which you can send mails, chat and keep in touch with your friends is awesome. But…, are you aware of who is seeing all your things?
In recent years Social Networking services have met controversies. Privacy concerns have been raised growing concerns amongst users on the dangers of giving out too much personal information and some governments and authorities began to discuss the regulation of those networks. How many people know and use privacy options in facebook? How many people have theirs wall public? For example, in July 2011, in Hamburg, around 1600 “guests” not originally invited attended the 16th birthday party for a girl who accidentally posted the invitation of the event as public. After reports of overcrowding, more than a hundred police were deployed for crowd control. It's crazy, isn’t it?

We all know that facebook has it’s failures in privacy, but they are introducing improvements year by year  As an example, on November, 2011, the Federal Trade Commission in Washington announced a broad settlement that requires the company to respect the privacy wishes of its users and subjects it to regular privacy audits for the next 20 years. However, are all sins theirs? My opinion is that the most of the privacy issues for which Social Networks platforms are been criticized as the example mentioned above, are due to the lack of responsibility of the people who use this platforms. How many people have never clicked the Privacy Settings button on facebook? How many people have different groups of friends with different privacy levels? Do you know that you can control with a high level of accuracy who can see your post, your photos and your personal information? You only need to spend 15 minutes, of those thousands of hours you spend hooked to the net, and set your privacy configuration up.

Perhaps, it could not be very intuitive, and that is the part in which developers and designers need to add new inputs as is doing Google+ obligating you to add in circles your new friends. However, you need to be more intelligent and manage better your privacy so that you could share whatever you want to the right people. Use Social Networks platforms; they are one of the best inventions in this century, but keep your eyes on the ball, the ball is in your court.

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