Innocent Until Proven Guilty on Social Platforms? Not Completely

By Nick O'Neill Comment

Yesterday afternoon both Bebo and MySpace announced updates and made clarifications surrounding their terms of service for developers. MySpace wanted to give developers an overview of what really amounts to a three strikes and your out policy. Applications will be temporarily suspended after 48 hours following a violation warning for the first time and the punishments increase incrementally from then on.

Rather than state the punishments for violations, Bebo instead opted to give developers until September 4th to update their applications to be in compliance with Bebo’s Platform Policies and Guidelines for Developers. Bebo has also listed possible actions they will take. For more details check out the Bebo application guidelines page. It’s clear that both platforms are having challenges with terms of service violations.

Is Reactive Protection Sufficient?

One thing that has become increasingly clear to me is that on the web, policy changes are typically much more reactive than proactive. This tends to reflect a similar process that takes place within our own political system. The question that I’ve begun to wonder is: does this really protect the users? If your data is available or there are flaws in the system which increase the likelihood of abuse, who’s responsible?

Ultimately we are in a nascent industry and as such it is the job of all parties to work together to develop the best practices. Unfortunately it is frequently user privacy which is at stake. Should users be more protected? Not necessarily given that it is ultimately their own decision to take actions which put their own privacy at risk. The only concern I have is that users don’t realize the implications of the digital decisions they make.

Does Anybody Else Care?

There’s definitely increasing digital privacy advocacy taking place on Capital Hill and I’m guessing that this will only continue. As Congress becomes more aware of what is taking place online they will begin deeper investigations which ultimately should result in a digital privacy bill of rights. Joseph Smarr has already outlined a basic level of these rights.

Unfortunately none of the participants that discussed the creation of this bill of rights are based in D.C. While I seem to be continuously covering the privacy situation for users, it doesn’t appear that the users really care or are aware to what’s taking place. I’m not sure if that’s good or not but the real question is who are the representatives that are going to speak for user privacy rights when the discussion heats up on the hill?

Does anybody really care about user privacy or have we given up?