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Social Media and Virtual Communities


Course Topics: 3 Social Media Invade Privacy

This is a course for the students with a strong interest in new technologies and how they may be used to create new business opportunities, particularly new social networking media.  Topics covered will include social networking and how the business world leverages them, virtual worlds and technologies, skills in designing and implementing social media for business value using sharepoint and iTunes U (hands on projects). 


How does privacy matter to you, and how will it be affected by involvement with Social Media?
How do consumers/employees perceive privacy concerns within social media?  What tradeoffs govern the policy decisions around privacy assurance?
Initial Thoughts:

We are beginning to live very substantial portions of our lives through social media.  A 2003 survey of over 500 knowledge workers by the Information Work Productivity Council found that an average worker spends 3 hours and 14 minutes per day on the phone, writing and reading emails, or engaged in other Internet or Web media.  The estimates today are that this amount has increased to over 50% of the average knowledge worker’s day!  With the increasing digital presence in our work and home life, is there also a security concern?  Garfinkel raises concern over what happens when our digital lives get captured and manipulated in Database Nation.  Interaction through a variety of digital media is imminently traceable due to the MetaData Trails we leave behind us as we browse and interact.  These metadata get trace through cookies (“Internet Says: ‘Me Want Cookie’”).  With all this data around, one might think that there would be no privacy and that law enforcement would be using it to its fullest, yet this is not the case yet (“Criminal Negligence: The State of Law Enforcement Data Sharing”).  The challenge of sharing data between sources and merging meta-data to make intelligible stories that can be coherently used is huge.  This is an area of great need.  At the same time, we have great problems when we try to simplify identification through single-factor means such as the social security number: Theory and Reality.  This could cost us as much as $9Billion / year in the near future if the meta data are not better managed.  Checks (“Check that Check”), medical records, any basic record that is now digitized may be duped and stolen.  Personal data in email may be mined by employers (“Email Software Delves into Employee’s Contacts”).  How do you feel about this?  Should employers be allowed to mine your work email?

Some groups are attempting to make meta data abuse less likely.  The Facebook / government plan to establish a “Safety Web for Youth” addresses this need.  There are business opportunities in this space too.  Consider the important role of a feeling of safety in enabling a market to function.  Do you need trusted third-party providers to enable the feeling of safety?  Does it require government involvement?  Why or why not? 

Data trails can be forgotten, only to appear and embarrass a company at a later time.  Even Wal-mart struggles with this privacy problem (“Candid Camera: Trove of Videos Vexes Wal-mart”).  What policies would your company need?  How do you control these videos or do you at all?  If you do not, how do you respond to videos leaked that cause liability problems?  What effect will the publication of these videos through YouTube have on Wal-mart?  See if you can find one to watch. 

Social media and digital presence also threaten personal privacy (“New Sites Make it Easier  to Spy on Your Friends”).  These tools may even be used in places such as Olympic venues to achieve information advantages (“US Fears Threat of Cyberspying at Olympics”).  Have you ever turned on your Wi-fi port and seen the “Free Public WiFi” computer-to-computer network listed?  This is a trap!  It is typically set in order to grab your network keys and break into your computer!  Do not login to it.  “Targets of Spying [have go to] Get Smart.”  You have to know when your data are being used and have the ability to say no.  Targeted ad companies are beginning to see this effect with their products (“Targeted Ads Raise Privacy Concerns”).  Meanwhile, companies also need the ability to say no and control their products online.  The threat of music downloading and pilfering and hindered growth in online music and entertainment.  Companies have had to be creative as they develop means to handle digital rights (DRM – digital rights management, such as FairPlay, the version used by Apple in iTunes).  The promise of ever-increasing presence of sensors and digital media is that services will improve and law enforcement, individuals and businesses will be able to strike the right balance of privacy, personalization, and pooled information for the common security.  If they do strike this balance, we will see more interested new services such as the “high-tech ear to the ground” as solutions to the privacy / security dilemma in a database nation.
1 *Garfinkel Database Nation (2000) “Database Nation”
2 *HBR “Happy MetaData Trails”
3 *WSJ “Internet Says: ‘Me Want Cookie’”
4 *Computerworld “Criminal Negligence: The State of Law Enforcement Data Sharing”
5 *Computerworld “Theory and Reality”
6 Businessweek “Check That Check”
7 WSJ “Data Breach at Army Hospital”
8 WSJ “Email Software Delves into Employee’s Contacts”
9 WSJ “Facebook, States Set Safety Web for Youth”
10 *WSJ “Candid Camera: Trove of Videos Vexes Wal-mart”
11 WSJ “New Sites Make it Easier to Spy on Your Friends”
12 WSJ “U.S. Fears Threat of Cyberspying at Olympics”
13 WSJ “Targets of Spying Get Smart”
14 *WSJ “Targeted Ads Raise Privacy Concerns”
15 WSJ “Sony Offers Video Downloading”
16 *WSJ “Police Put a High-Tech Ear to the Ground”
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