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Is your privacy in danger when using social networks?

An analysis of the contractual terms and conditions using Multi-Attribute Decision making

STUDENT PAPER

By Racha Temraoui

Paris, France

 



ABSTRACT

Social network users may not realize what they agreed to when they clicked on « I read and accept the terms and conditions » while creating their accounts. With the rise of social networks, the content and quantity of information is now generated by individuals from all over the world, and it is therefore increasingly difficult to control all the information that circulates. Thus, numerous problems arise as regards to the protection of individual’s privacy. We analyzed the privacy policies of three different social networks using Multi-Attribute Decision making. And as a result, we discovered that social networks describe their relationship with their users trying to explain in their privacy terms the processing of their personal information and how they can control it. In line with our analysis, we chose Facebook’s privacy terms as the best provided to users in comparison with Twitter and LinkedIn. And, we identified that the length, terminologies and design of social networks privacy terms have a significant impact on the number of users who read these terms. Social networks can surely find creative ways to present their information and social networks’ users should think carefully of what they are committing to before signing up.

KEY WORDS

Internet, Social media, Social networks, personal data, private life, laws, terms and conditions

INTRODUCTION

In the sociological sense, the term « social network » refers to a set of web sites allowing interaction between actors. From the 1990s, the concept of social networking appeared on the Internet through the creation of blogs where individuals interact by exchanging content about professional, non-professional information or about their private life. The technological revolution allowed the accelerated development of the search engines, and at that time the social networks were born. Despite the fact that the creation of social networks is still recent, their number has only increased during the last ten years to finally become indispensable to society.

Indeed, social networks have been set up so that Internet users can maintain a virtual contact with many people. In addition, this new type of communication spreads information at high speed. Today proving to be very practical and even indispensable to everyday life, individuals become dependent on these communication tools. However, it seems that social networks are starting to control people’s lives since they act on many levels: social, political, economic and professional. Thus, numerous problems arise in particular as regards to the protection of individual’s privacy. On one hand, with the rise of social networks, the content and quantity of information is now generated by individuals from all over the world by who have an account on these networks. It is therefore increasingly difficult to control all the information that circulates.

On the other hand, traditionally, laws did not take these issues into consideration. Indeed, there is a discrepancy since the laws have not had time to adapt to large technological evolutions and consequently to the emergence of social networks. Therefore, Judges have been confronted with a number of situations where individuals have presented complaints against social networks because they do not make enough effort to protect the privacy of their users.

1-     Problem definition

Hence, due to many problematic situations related to the presence of personal data of members on social networks and the fact that this information is made available to the world, legal authorities are aware that the laws did not have answer to all these questions. But aren’t social network users also responsible for this? Did they read the terms and conditions before they have joined Facebook, Twitter or Linked In? Are they aware that by just clicking on « sign up », they actually agree to their terms of service? Do they know that these terms and conditions are in fact a contract between them and social media? Thus, is users’ privacy in danger when using social networks?

To summarize, this paper has been designed to research, analyze and answer the following questions:

1)     How social networks deal with privacy in their terms of service?
2)     Which social network between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide the best privacy policies to its users?
3)     Why most social network users do not read the terms and conditions before joining these services?

2-     Identify the feasible alternatives

We chose three social networks that have different purposes to compare and analyze their privacy terms and conditions.

First, Facebook which is typically a social network website that allows its users to stay in contact with people wherever they are and to share with them messages, pictures, videos and stories.

Second, Twitter which is another social network website that enables its users to send what they call “Tweets” that are messages they can send to their followers and friends. It enables them to express their feelings or opinions about anything they want to a large audience whenever they want.

And third, LinkedIn is also a social network website but it is mainly oriented towards business and employment, and it is generally used as an interaction between job seekers who post their Curriculum Vitae and other professional information and employees who post job opportunities.

3-     Development of the outcome for alternatives

It is actually easy to access the privacy terms and conditions of these three social networks since they are shown directly on the registry page.

More…

To read entire paper, click here

 

Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director [email protected].



About the Author


Racha Temraoui

Paris, France




Racha Temraoui
, Lebanese economist graduate from Saint-Joseph University (USJ), studying Masters in Management at Ecole Supérieure des Affaires (ESA business School) and currently enrolled in an exchange semester at SKEMA Business School in France pursuing the specialization “Msc Project and Program Management and Business Development”. A Project Manager to be…

Racha can be contacted at [email protected] or www.linkedin.com/in/racha-temraoui