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Facebook Offers Poor Personal Data Protection

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A study of Norwegian Internet users and social media found that people are willing to post their personal information on social media sites even when they are not aware how it will be used. Conducted by SINTEF for the Norwegian Consumers' Council, the researchers found that 60 percent of Norweigan Internet users are on Facebook. SINTEF's Petter Bae Brandtzaeg and Marika Luders conclude that Facebook offers relatively poor personal data protection due to the service itself, its design, the level of competence of its users, and their lack of awareness of how to protect themselves.

"Facebook has become an important arena for social participation in our personal environment," Brandtzaeg says. "However, it is becoming ever more easy to gather and aggregate personal information, outside the control of users."

Still, people are willing to post their personal information because so many other people use Facebook, and they rarely hear of unfortunate incidents. Respondents were usually not aware that Facebook uses personal information for commercial purposes, and their personal information also can be used against them, such as when they apply for a job.

The researchers say that people and objects will be woven together ever more closely by the next wave of Internet media such as Google Wave and mobile smartphones. "This can make us even more vulnerable to failures of personal data protection," Luders says.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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