5 questions to ask social media service providers

Posted on: February 11, 2014 | By: Christina Bonds | Filed under: Info Security, Social Media

How has social media influenced your life?  The number of social media service providers such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, has exploded in the last 10 years.  Social media has given us new ways to communicate.  Responding to a forum, tweeting, updating a status, finding a childhood friend, or cultivating professional relationships are just some of the ways we have utilized online networks and communities.  The ultimate goal is reaching out to others to share and seek information.

With all of the information gathered using social media sites what role should social media service providers have when it comes to data privacy?  After all, users are posting information on the ‘open’ internet so why should any form of data privacy even be considered?  The answer is simple – once an account and log in are established and there is the ability to allow or disallow individuals to see information, social media users expect some level of privacy.  Therefore social media service providers must consume the role of protecting the information and must be clear on their privacy policies.  Below are five questions you should ask your social media service providers.

1. Do you have a privacy policy that is publicly available?

2. Will information only be used by the provider and user or will the information be shared with third parties for purposes such as advertising?

3. Can the provider be contacted easily if there are questions or complaints?

4. How long will information be accessible to the provider if an account has been inactive or deleted?

5. Does the provider have a breach notification policy in the event accounts are compromised?

When using social media as a mean of communication, we should have confidence that our accounts are kept secure and information we share is only shared with those with permission.  Asking these questions will let providers know we care about data privacy.

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Christina Bonds

Christina Bonds, CISSP, is an Application Developer at Elon University

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