How Private Is Your Social Media Account?
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How Private Is Your Social Media Account?

Since the arrival of social networking sites in the early 2000s, online social networking platforms have expanded exponentially, with the biggest names in social media in the mid-2010s being Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat. The massive influx of personal information that has become available online and stored in the cloud has put user privacy at the forefront, regarding the database’s ability to safely store such personal information. The extent to which users and social media platform administrators can access user profiles has become a new topic of ethical consideration, and the legality, awareness, and boundaries of subsequent privacy violations are critical concerns in the advance of the technological age. A social network is a social structure made up of a set of social actors, sets of dyadic ties, and other social interactions between actors. Privacy concerns with social networking services is a subset of data privacy, involving the right of mandating personal privacy concerning storing, re-purposing, provision to third parties, and displaying of information pertaining to oneself via the Internet. Social network security and privacy issues result from the astronomical amounts of information these sites process each day. Features that invite users to participate in—messages, invitations, photos, open platform applications and other applications are often the venues for others to gain access to a user’s private information. The advent of the Web 2.0 has caused social profiling and is a growing concern for internet privacy Web 2.0 is the system that facilitates participatory information sharing and collaboration on the Internet. These social networks keep track of all interactions used on their sites and save them for later use. Issues include cyberstalking, location disclosure, 3rd party personal information disclosure, and government use social network websites in investigations without the safeguard of a search warrant. Before social networking sites exploded over the past decade, there were earlier forms of social network technologies that included online multiplayer games, blog sites, newsgroups, mailings lists. They created a backbone for the new modern sites. Yet, since the start there existed an issue of privacy. There are several causes that contribute to the invasion of policy throughout social networking platforms. It has been recognized that “by design, social media technologies contest mechanisms for control and access to personal information, the sharing of user-generated content is central to their function. This proves that social networking companies need private information to become public so their sites can operate. They require people to share and connect with each other. This may not necessarily be a bad thing however, one most just be aware of the privacy concerns. A person’s life becomes much more public because of social networking. Social media sites have allowed people to connect with many more people than with just in person interactions. People can connect with users from all across the world that they may never have the chance to meet in person. This can be a positive aspect; however, this also arises many concerns about privacy. Social networking sites vary in the levels of privacy offered. For some social networking sites like Facebook, providing real names and other personal information is encouraged by the site . This information usually consists of the birth date, current address, and phone number Some sites also allow users to provide more information about themselves such as interests, hobbies, favorite books or films. However, there are other social network sites, where most people prefer to be anonymous. Thus, linking users to their real identity can sometimes be rather difficult. Nevertheless, individuals can sometimes be identified with face re-identification. Studies have been done on two major social networking sites, and it is found that by overlapping 15% of the similar photographs, profile pictures with similar pictures over multiple sites can be matched to identify the users. The “Privacy Paradox” is a phenomenon that occurs when individuals, who state that they have concerns about their privacy online, take no action to secure their accounts. Furthermore, while individuals may take extra security steps for other online accounts, such as those related to banking or finance, this does not extend to social media accounts. Some of these basic or simple security steps would include deleting cookies, browser history, or checking one’s computer for spyware. Users are often the targets as well as the source of information in social networking. Users leave digital imprints during browsing of social networking sites or services. There are several ways for third parties to access user information. Flickr is an example of a social media website that provides geotagged photos that allows users to view the exact location of where a person is visiting or staying. Geotagged photos make it easy for third party users to see where an individual is located. Nearly all of the most popular applications on Facebook have been sharing users’ information with advertising and tracking companies. Even though Facebook’s privacy policy says they can provide any of the non-personally identifiable attributes we have collected” to advertisers, they violate this policy Application programming interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. By using query language, sharing content and data between communities and applications became much easier. An API allows software to “speak with other software. Furthermore, an API can collect and provide information that is not publicly accessible. This accessible data along with data mining technology, users’ information can be used in different ways to improve customer service According to what you retweet, what you like and the hashtag, Twitter can recommend some topics and advertisements. Twitter’s suggestions for who to follow is done by this recommendation system. Twitter has admitted that they have scanned and imported their user’s phone contacts onto the website database so that they can learn more about their users. Most users were unaware that Twitter is created this way for new users to search for their friends. Twitter has stated that they will have their privacy guidelines illustrated more clearly in the future.

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