Head in the sand: Ignoring the potential loss of your privacy by using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google+

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Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter were all launched between 2004 and 2006. Google+ launched in 2011. These four sites collectively have almost 2 billion users, which is amazing given how young the sites are. The users of the sites willingly post very personal and intimate details of their lives and seem not to care about the privacy implications of doing so. They appear to have their heads stuck in the sand, ignoring the potential harm. There are psychological reasons that users love to use the sites and discount the risk of doing so. They trust the companies providing the services they love will do nothing with that information except perhaps display advertising that is based on their demonstrated behavior or expressions. Yet the companies make no such promises, and in some cases explicitly state that they will gather and share whatever information they want. The reason they would do this is obvious - it is extremely profitable and in most cases the source of the majority or totality of the companies' revenue. Absent any universal privacy law in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has charged many internet companies, including the providers of these four top sites, of deceptive and unfair practices. The industry is pushing for self-regulation at the same time they are busily scooping up every bit of personal information they can in order to deliver targeted advertising and engage in information sharing.


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