You ARE a Law Breaking Black Hat. Yes YOU!

  • 0
  • October 23, 2009

This new dilemma was highlighted to me yesterday as I tried to update my LinkedIn social profile to include my involvement with MajesticSEO. LinkedIn’s privacy statement is robust and reassuring, but they have a new beta section asking me to add details about my company. The “number of employees” section was a compulsory field. Now I am not especially precious about this data, but I serve many masters. My legally binding contract with MajesticSEO includes a confidentiality clause, naturally. Even if it didn’t, I think that I should make it just a LITTLE difficult for prying eyes to build up inside knowledge about businesses where I am not the controlling interest. What if you work for TESCO. How many employees even KNOW how many people work there?

Making this a compulsory field simply made me abandon the company profile setup.

The ongoing process of disseminating information about ourselves and our associates online through social networking has an insidious feel about it. Even the most honorable of useful applications usually requires us to hand over login details to complete strangers. Whilst it is often in our own interests to do so, that decision is also often not ours to make. Often we have casually promised confidentiality on the one hand, then casually ignored it on the other. You think you haven’t? How many online services require – in their terms – that you promise to keep your password safe? Well how about paragraph 3 of Twitter’s terms: If you are on Twitter, you agreed to:

You are responsible for safeguarding the password that you use to access the Services and for any activities or actions under your password.”

Or if you look at the same URL on an iphone the agreement simply says:

You are responsible for keeping your password secure”

I agreed to that too. Yet I have given my Twitter password to at least the following:; Twitpic; Twittalator; Echofon; Netvibes; Friendfeed; Facebook; Some third party Facebook App; Apple and who knows who else. If we can’t share the logins with other applications. Mashed up services lose much of their value. But how do we reconcile breaking every agreement we enter into, without so much as a second thought?

OpenID was set up as a solution to this problem… But I doubt that system is infallable either. I feel Big Brother bounding in through the great big open barn door that we refuse to close or even see. Legislation won’t help either, if we so blatantly ignore agreements that we enter into, then legislation has already failed.


Dixon Jones

About Dixon Jones

  • Andy Beard

    I think about the only site I have trusted with my Twitter details is Facebook

    I don’t trust Facebook with my Google Account password

  • stuartpturner

    Interesting post Dixon – I half agree although I’m not up enough on the enforcement and interrelationship of T&Cs of applications, networks and third party products.

    Can you actually class using your Twitter ID and P/W with a third party app as disclosing it in an unsecure fashion? The app you use will have their own privacy policy (or should) which (as I understand it) covers your usage and any details you give them.

    having checked Echofon though – this doesn’t appear to be covered in their Terms of Service (don’t know why that’s the Spanish version btw) :S

    “9. Transmission of Data. Use of the Software may involve the transmission of data
    over the Internet to naan studio, to Twitter, and, as discussed in Section 8 above, to other third-party
    Services, and you may not be notified in each instance of the transmission of information from your
    computer. The information that is transmitted to naan studio includes your Twitter username and
    display name which naan studio only uses for syncing between your different versions of the
    Echofon software, and your tweets and other Twitter information needed to provide you the service,
    which we delete immediately after delivery to your computer or to Twitter. naan studio collects
    various categories of non-personally identifiable information, such as use data, application name,
    and version information. naan studio uses this information for purposes such as collecting
    information about our users’ usage of the Software (including, without limitation, the publication
    and dissemination of data, reports, and other non-personally identifiable information derived
    therefrom to third parties). These third parties use this non-personally identifiable information for
    various purposes, including the selection and display of targeted advertisements on the free version

  • tag44

    Nice post, very well useful information shared here, great post.

  • Dixon Jones

    I see that since I wrote this, Google are announcing that they’ll have their own social media search tool soon… but you will need to give GOOGLE all your passwords too. How can Yahoo’s Beacon get held up in privacy law suits, butu Google can simply swan in, linking all your social media profiles to your Google profile!?

  • kumo

    I felt the same way too. That is why having totally different passwords and login ID for different application might be good. For those applications that I feel I don’t have to worry if my login ID or passwords exposed, I just go ahead and share it all around. As for Google Adsense account, I don’t share it out with any other application. We definitely need to take extra cautions on IDs and passwords that holds our income.

  • Health Advisor

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