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Social Media: The Myth of a Private Profile

August 25, 2015

Typically the biggest problem social media companies face is the issue of privacy, or rather how to reassure their consumer that privacy is a priority. They all have privacy policies. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says “we value your privacy”. Eric Schmidt says he values your privacy. Everybody says we value your privacy, but do they really? You could believe the terms of service, you could believe what the manufacturer says. Personally, I prefer believing what the courts and lawyers tell me.

In the UK, someone who worked for Apple Stores went on Facebook and posted on his profile rude comments and complaints about his manager. One of his Facebook friends printed out the comments, and gave it to the manager. The guy got fired. He sued, citing the EU Human Rights Act. He said, “They violated and invaded my privacy.”  At the UK Tribunal, more than one judge ruled anything on social media is not private. Therefore, those privacy settings are a lie.

The UK is not alone; Australia and the US also have rules that indicate if your minors are involved, media cannot publish names or photos unless they were approved from parents or third parties involved.

Australia has a similar set of rules. For example, a television show went to a minor’s Facebook page, grabbed some photos and ran a news story with it. Parents sued for violation of privacy. The Australian media regulator ruled that if it is on Facebook, it is public domain.

The truth is that a “private” profile is anything but.

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