Terms of Service – Do You Know What You’ve Agreed To?

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How Much Information Are You Giving Away?

My last blog post focused on Facebook’s patent that would allow the social media platform to use cameras and webcams to spy on its users.

For the full story click here .

Some of you might have been surprised that they could be so intrusive and you might have wondered what gives them the right to do something like spy on its users.  You might also be surprised to learn about some of the other things that Facebook is already allowed to do with the information that its users are sharing.  Anyone using the service has agreed to it.  It’s all in the terms of service.

If you didn’t read Facebook’s terms of service when you signed up or when they were last updated, they can be found here .

 

The Friend That Never Pays You Back

Did you “like” a video, post, or picture lately?  Facebook got paid for that.  If you “like” anything that was advertised by a business, Facebook can allow that business to use your pictures, name, information and information in exchange for money.  That’s money that you never get to see.

This Huffington Post article has more information here, and they also highlight the specific parts of the applicable terms of service.

You might not have a problem with sharing your feelings about your favourite brands online, but you should have a problem with Facebook getting all of the profit.  Think about how much money companies pay for research and testing. Think about how much we are paying for school.  Information is valuable.

 

Don’t Look Now, You’re Being Followed

In April 2014 Facebook started providing location services.  As long as your location settings are enabled within the application, you can use the tracking feature to find nearby friends.  When Facebook gets this information, they of course use it to sell you more advertising.  Now that all seems perfectly innocent when you discover that predators can exploit this feature and use it for tracking and stalking.  A computer science student at Harvard University created a Chrome extension that can collect data from Facebook messenger and plot your last location on a map.  Your location information can be seen if you sent someone a message from a Café downtown, or if you sent someone a message from your own home before you went to sleep.

To read more about tracking and to find out how to disable your location on the Facebook application click here .

 

Read the Fine Print

The reality is that most people do not read the terms and conditions for everything that they sign up for.  They are very long winded and it seems like most of the terms are just basic liability clauses that are necessary for the company to protect themselves.  But if a big business knows that they need to protect themselves online, shouldn’t we be learning a lesson from that?  Let’s try to use our critical thinking and not just blindly agree to terms that we don’t understand so that we can continue to be used for profit.

Facebook: Terms of Service – Do You Know What You’ve Agreed To? http://bit.ly/2saK5Tg

Twitter: Do You Know What You’ve Agreed To? http://bit.ly/2saK5Tg

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Social Media Monitoring, Is Facebook Going Too Far?

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I read recently that the social media giant Facebook applied for a patent that would allow them to spy on users by accessing their cameras.

To read the full article click here http://ind.pn/2r0deit .

What is the reason Facebook would implement technology to spy on its users?  To advertise by monitoring user’s reactions, facial expressions, and attentiveness when being shown content.

1984

In 1949 George Orwell published the classic novel 1984.  In 1984 every move you make is being watched by Big Brother.  The oppressive group has cameras and audio recording everywhere in private and in public.  The most haunting part about this novel for me was that the people invited this technology into their homes.  After all, if you’re not doing anything wrong what is there to worry about?

History Repeats Itself

As if Facebook wanting to spy on us like Big Brother wasn’t enough, this is not the first time the company has manipulated its users.  In 2014 Facebook conducted an experiment on its users.  They were barraged with messages in their news feeds that were all positive or all negative.  Facebook wanted to see if content had an effect on people’s emotions.  The company also put out an application that had bugs, errors, and was difficult to use.  They did this on purpose to measure user loyalty.  Facebook wanted to see at what point you would give up and uninstall the app.

http://bit.ly/2td7ZNc has more information on these experiments.

A Waste of Resources

What I find the most infuriating about the whole situation is Facebook’s recent statement against the proposed hate crime law in Germany.  The law would fine social media platforms that do not delete hate speech and other illegal activities.  Facebook says “The legislative state cannot pass on its own shortcomings and responsibilities to private companies”

DW has more information here http://bit.ly/2tdpTPZ .

If Facebook doesn’t want to take the time to delete hateful and straight up illegal activity on their website, then they shouldn’t be wasting their resources to monitor people’s facial expressions for petty causes like advertising.

In conclusion, I can only hope that if Facebook is allowed to access people’s cameras it will have a negative impact on their usership.  I will leave you with one more thought.  If Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg uses a piece of tape to cover his camera while he is online, why would you still trust them?

Facebook: Social Media Monitoring, Is Facebook Going Too Far? http://bit.ly/2riYRde

Twitter: Social Media Monitoring Goes Too Far. http://bit.ly/2riYRde

 

Should Your Kids Use Social Media? Information You Need to Know.

Every child has heard it, and will one day grow up to say it themselves, “Back in my day, we didn’t have to worry about things like that.”  What am I referring to for most parents today?  Social media.  Parents today ask themselves questions like:

  • Does my child need a cell phone?
  • What will they do with it?
  • What are the risks?

These are just some of the things that are considered.  What is the answer?  Unfortunately, we don’t fully know yet, but I’d like to share a few things that have been discovered when it comes to social media.

Social Media Addiction

There are people who believe that social media addiction is not real and that it is not a proven disease.  Psychology Today defines addiction as “A condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health (Psychology Today, 2017).  According to this definition almost everyone I know would have an addiction to social media.  This article by Vice https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/the-secret-ways-social-media-is-built-for-addiction , explains it’s no accident that we are addicted.  Social media apps are designed like slot machines to keep users hooked.  When these companies draw more daily users they can charge more money for their advertising space, so it is a competition for your undivided attention.

Damage to Self Esteem

Several studies have shown that teens, particularly women, are unhappy with their appearance after using social media such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.  When users post to social media, they can choose the best photo and then edit it to appear flawless.  Also, you only see the “best of shots” on someone’s Instagram.  Users post their vacations, dates, extravagant meals, but rarely do they post the hard work it took to get them there.  This gives viewers an unrealistic comparison of their own appearances and their own lives making them feel inadequate.  This article by CNN explains more, and has some tips on what parents can do http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/12/health/girls-social-media-self-image-partner/ .

Predators and Risks

Companies looking to use social media for business face risks, but so do kids looking to use it for entertainment and communication.  Kids want to express themselves might not realize the future implications of their posts on social media.  An inappropriate rant about a friend, teacher, or parent could cost them a future job opportunity.  Kids could also be at risk of sharing identifying information about where they live, go to school, or their extra-curricular activities.  If your kids have access to the internet all of the time, this means that predators can have access to them and the information that they share.

No matter what you decide there will be implications and some of them have not been discovered yet.  Talk to your kids about technology, social media, privacy, and self-esteem so that they can come to you when challenges arise.

At what age do you think it’s appropriate to let kids use cell phones?

Facebook: Should Your Kids Use Social Media? Information You Need to Know. http://wp.me/p3QRy0-fiN

Twitter: Should Our Kids Be Using Social Media? http://wp.me/p3QRy0-fiN

Why I Stopped Using Social Media

Recently I removed the Facebook application from my phone, stopped my daily Instagram posts, and stopped scrolling through news feeds on social media.  Here are some of the personal observations I made, and what prompted the decision to redistribute my time.

Distracting Behavior

While I sat in school listening to the teachers lecture, other students would sit right in front of me, or beside me, and scroll through their news feeds.  Although they were mostly silent, I was still distracted by their behavior.  What were they looking at? Why was it more important than the classes they paid for?  How could it be interesting for so long?  I would watch them blankly stare at their devices and often they would do that for the entire 2 or 3 hours we were there.  What were they getting out of it?

Self-Check

So was I any better?  Definitely not.  I would go on Instagram to do my daily post, like a few of my favourite accounts, and then start scrolling.  After that I would do the same thing for Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Linkedin to name a few.  This happened for the longest amounts of time in the morning and before bed, but I would also check in for shorter amounts of time throughout the day.

Chained to the Algorithm

The reason that I started, and continue, to use social media has stayed the same.  I have moved cities a couple of times and social media sites make it easy for me to keep in touch with friends and family.  I can get updates on how they are, see pictures of their vacations, and laugh at the latest meme or vine with them.

Or can I?

The truth is, now when I scroll through my feed I mostly see posts from people I haven’t kept in touch with.  No amount of unfollowing or unfollowing seems to change the content that the site wants to show me.  What it wants to show me is advertisements, poorly written stories, and articles that are also advertisements.

Taking Back My Time

So off it all went.  Instead of scrolling while I’m in class, I listen and if we happen to be talking about a subject I’m ahead on, I’ll do other school work. It is allocated learning time after all.  Instead of checking all of the feeds in the morning I have time to do something healthy for myself.  I take a walk outside, go to the gym, or just make a good breakfast.  What about my friends and family?  I contact them directly.

Have you ever considered deleting your social media accounts?

What’s stopping you?