Who’s responsible for online privacy?

During her presentation on the app, Girls around Me, @LeahMcYYC asked whose responsibility it was to ensure people’s information is secure – we who provide the information or the platform like Facebook into which we enter it. From my perspective, privacy settings on social media (especially social media on which children are active) should default to the safest settings. Behaviour architecture research suggests that more often than not people will remain with the default settings regardless of what they are. In Moubarak, Guiot, Behhamou, Benhamou & Hariri’s (2010) study on the Facebook activity of resident physicians and fellows, researchers noted that residents on Facebook were more likely to change their default settings after they had been on Facebook for more than a year.

In their book Nudge, Thaler and Sunstein insist that we can use the science of choice to make it easier for people to make their lives healthier and safer. Making default settings the safer/healthier choice and putting healthy food at the front of the cafeteria are two examples they provide of behaviour architecture.

Ultimately, we are responsible for our own online safety, but online companies like Facebook should help not hinder us.


Filed under privacy, social networks

9 responses to “Who’s responsible for online privacy?

  1. Thanks for the reference Tana. I am totally in agreement that social media services like Facebook should switch to opt-in versus their current opt-out privacy settings. Who knows if this will ever change as it goes against their business model.

    • I am afraid that it would take a child getting hurt through information available on FB before the opt-in/op-out part of the policy is revisited.

      • Excellent point, Tana. It’s sad but true. It reminds me of the use of social networks to help victims of earthquakes and tsunamis but the people who need help due to droughts or other less interesting causes.

  2. Andrea

    Oooh I really like your thoughts about defaulting to the safest settings Tana. It’s a good idea for those just starting out – then as they grow and want to change/challenge the system settings they can learn just how they want to manipulate it. Smart idea!

  3. Ditto Tana, I am never a proponent of negative optioning – it takes advantage of the fact that we are too busy and too trusting and too lazy to notice!

    • Still doesn’t address that FB has the best facial recognition system in the world and that is not something that can be addressed through privacy defaults.

  4. agreed Tana. take some responsibility for being a better person or company and don’t exploit the people who use your software just because you can… sad to think the makers of these sites will default to the lowest common denominator sometimes.

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