21 September 2014
Personal information protection in social networking sites Today, with the prevalence and popularity of social networking sites, protection of personal privacy in these websites becomes a hotspot issue. Based on some experts’ and organizations’ analysis and research, there are some potential causes of leak of personal information. They can be roughly concluded in three different aspect: users improper behavior, deficient safety tools provided by SNS provider, and hacker and computer virus. From all these factors, I mainly focus on users behavior versus safety tools in this paper. To gather the users’ thought, I did a survey about “personal information security in SNS” as the primary source. Since the result of the question “What are social network sites that you are using now?” indicates that every participants are using Facebook, I will pay close attention to the users behavior in Facebook and the mechanisms that Facebook provided to protect users against risks. It can also apply on other popular social networking sites including Twitter, Instagram, snap chat and so on and so forth.
According to the survey, users check their messages at least once per hour. Some users even check their notifications more than once in every half an hour. Wherever users are, whenever it is, and whatever users do, they focus on their social networking sites, their contact with others. However, according to the survey, about 38.5% participants does not exactly know their security setting. Among the participants who knows their personal setting, only one participants open their information to public. I have checked the security settings by myself, the default choice of every settings in Facebook are all open to public, which means that the users who does not know their security setting are most likely disclosing their personal information to the whole social networking sites. The result indicated that over 40% users open their personal information consciously or unconsciously, which implied any netizens can easily grab 40% people’s personal privacy without any particular techniques. It is horrible!
However, does the SNS providers take responsibility for this risks happened? Let us look at statistics from a different angle. For the question “is there any sign to alarm you about the potential risks of disclosing your personal information,” surprisingly, none of responders choose “yes”, which shows that none of websites make users realize their private information is actually can be simply stolen by any individuals. Moreover, Facebook makes the default of their personal setting “open”. It is also an essential factor that people will open their private information.
Therefore, we need to judge which factor is the main causes of the leak of private information. From my perspective, SNS providers’ responsibility weigh more than users’. Imagine if the default of the setting was “only for friends,” and the warning launched when users attempted to change their setting, that 38.5% users would be protected. According to the survey, users are actually very careful about their personal privacy. When the question goes “Did you ever post private photos,” only 7% people put their private pictures on the internet, and they know exactly who can see these private photos. It illustrate that users are always concern about safety of their personal information. However, when they sign up their