If you read all the terms and conditions you come across, it would take you 76 work days. And even if you had all that time, most are written in legal language designed to obscure what the site really does with your information. So it’s no wonder most of us have no idea what we’re agreeing to as we join a new site or start a new service.
There’s an old rule online: if you’re not paying, you’re the product.
How are you a “product”? First, the obvious way: you may buy stuff so the site will use your information to sell you more stuff. The second way is your data is valuable for providing a site and its advertisers more information about how to get you to engage and buy more.
There has never been a greater treasure trove of information that what users are volunteering on social media and Facebook. For this reason, its terms and conditions give the company access to almost everything you do.
“Nothing you do on Facebook is private,” writes the Huffington Post‘s Amanda Scherker. “Repeat: Nothing you do on Facebook is private.”
Scherker looked at the sites terms and conditions and found it can not only track everything you have done, it’s already tracking things you haven’t done yet.
“Facebook has even begun studying messages that you type but end up deciding not to post.”
Facebook can use this information to sell your attention to advertisers more effectively. In exchange, you get access to 1 billion of your closest friends.
And they’re honest about it! If you read the find print.
So here’s a good rule: Treat every social media site as if it were Twitter.
On Twitter, nearly everyone has all their tweets public. These tweets can be shared, embedded and used to shame you.
Facebook isn’t going to actively shame you but it will use the information you type — whether it’s in a status update, a private message or a chat, whether it’s sent or not — to productize you.
If you agree to go public, you have to remember there’s no privacy.
[Image via davitydave on Flickr.]
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