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    Social Media Strategy

    Professional social media strategies for Associations, B2B and B2C companies with a focus on measurable results and real ROI.

    No fluff, no fads, just results. 

    www.socialstrat.org

    Friday
    May132011

    Nothing to Hide

    In his most recent book, "Nothing to Hide", Daniel Solove (John Marshall Harlan Research Professor of Law at George Washington University) makes compelling arguments about the false balance and trade-offs being made between privacy and security.

    Although Prof. Solove is focused on the issue of 'privacy vs. national security', many of the same points made could apply to the tradeoff of 'privacy vs. commerce' as relates to social networking platforms and information aggregation by companies.

    For example, he talks about the types of potential harm that can be done when massive amounts of information are collected, whether willingly (ie. in Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, or any other social media related application), or surreptitously. He describes four categories of risk:

    Aggregation:  When small bits of information are combined to paint a detailed picture or profile of an individual, perhaps well beyond what that person would knowingly allow to be compiled about themselves.

    Exclusion: Being prevented from knowing what information is being collected and/or how it is being used. (Who really reads the "Terms of Use"? Who knows how extensively your information is being shared with 3rd parties?)

    Secondary Use: The use of information that is collected for one purpose that is then used for a different purpose without the consent of the data's subject. (People join social networks to share information and connect, no one really joins a social network to become a highly targeted marketing prospect or to have their data repackaged and sold).

    Distortion: When information that is gathered is used to interpret a behavior or create a profile of a person that is incorrect or misleading. Especially when the data subject is unable to change how their profile is being used, interpreted or communicated.

    Although Mr. Solove was pointing out the real and potential dangers of misuse of information by the government, the same principles and dangers apply when data is misused by corporations. Especially now when individuals are willingly giving up hordes of information about themselves without really understanding how that information is being used or even by whom it is being collected, shared, sold or manipulated.

    Mr. Solove argues that the entire legal concept of privacy and laws designed to protect privacy need a rewrite.

    I couldn't agree more at a time when social media platforms are pressed to turn a profit and this pressure pushes them often in the direction of excessively or unethically exploiting the information they have collected from the members in their communities.

    To read more about "Nothing to Hide" visit Prof. Solove's blog "Concurring Opinions".

    Saturday
    Jan222011

    Who is policing the Internet?

    Maryland Attorney General, Doug Gansler, spoke at the law firm of Whiteford, Taylor, Preston on 20 January 2011 in Baltimore about the steps he and other States Attorney General offices are taking to protect consumers when using online social media platforms.

    In particular, the issue of privacy, information tracking and how that information is either sold or shared between commercial entities was a hot topic.

    According to Gansler, "the law is woefully behind the use of technology and the Internet today". As the Vice President of the National Association of Attorney Generals (NAAG), Mr. Gansler is helping law enforcement across the United States to focus more attention on how to protect consumers when they are using online applications.

    This includes social media sites such as Facebook, Apple's wildly successful App store, or one of GOOGLE's many online applications. At issue is the enormous amount of personally identifiable data that is being collected, how its is used and the increasing exposure of citizens and consumers to identity fraud or worse.

    Everyone has an interest in how laws are applied to online activities. Whether as a user, a consumer products company, a member of an online peer group, law enforcement, the judiciary or legal counsel, clarity is needed over how an ever increasing amount of personal data and information is used and safeguarded.

    Traditionally, the Attorney General's office has focused on identifying and capturing online sexual predators, a role that was closley coordinated with Federal authorities. While those efforts to protect vulnerable children will continue, in the future, there will be more attention paid to privacy issues.

    This is in part due to the increasing incidents of bullying perpetrated by individuals using false identities to torment schoolmates or work colleagues. False online identities are also being used for organized crime and fraud purposes.

    An example of what the regulatory future might look like includes the FTC's "do not track" recommendation issued in December 2010. While this is a new Federal initiative, it is something that the State Attorney General's are watching. Gansler predicts that we will see more joint efforts across State lines to help protect citizens in this new and rapidly evolving legal environment.