Social media, search engines, mobile apps and games — all of these ask for, collect, maintain, and in some instances re-distribute personal information about their users.
What a “like” really means
Facebook also knows a great deal about you that you have not disclosed. Every time you visit a Facebook webpage, the social media giant identifies your location, the computer you are using, the websites you have visited before going to the Facebook page, and the websites that you visit after you leave. In addition, many websites contain that famous blue Facebook “F” logo that allows you to click and “like” the page. What is seldom known is that the Facebook logo and “like” button are actually located on Facebook’s computer servers, not on the computer or website which you are visiting. As a result, as soon as you land on a webpage containing the blue Facebook “F” button, the Facebook company immediately and automatically garners a tremendous quantity of information about you. Even without clicking the “F”; even before you “like” the webpage; merely by landing on that third party website, you have simultaneously landed on Facebook’s computer servers, even if you are not a registered Facebook user. Not only does Facebook “see” your identity, your location, and computer; Facebook also has access to everything that you do on that third-party website. Purchase a product on a Facebook-linked page? The social media company knows about it instantly. Request additional information from that third-party website? Facebook knows precisely what you have asked.
Apps and privacy
What’s more, if you enjoy Facebook apps, you may be surprised to know that Facebook authorizes access to customer information to the app providers. Even though Facebook itself has imposed some restrictions on its internal use of your information, Facebook has no control over the third-party app developers. Although some of these companies limit the unauthorized disclosure of your information, are you ready to release your personal information to unscrupulous companies which provide a game or service that you enjoy?
In the 20th century, to avoid the glare of public scrutiny, you would have taken care not to parade through Times Square, holding a banner containing your most private information. In today’s wired world, all you need to do is use Facebook, Twitter, or Google, and your most precious secrets may be revealed to the world.
© Copyright 2013. Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone, LLP. All rights are reserved.
Featured image courtesy of Franco Bouly licensed via Creative Commons.
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