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Monday, July 28, 2008

Web 2.0 Privacy Issues

Web 2.0 promises to give consumers the next generation of internet utility. However, there are pitfalls that come with such fast-paced change-privacy being one of them.

Web 2.0 applications such as Flickr, MySpace, and Digg, are just a few of a growing number of Web-based companies who are mining for information about you. Bit-Tech writer Will Harris sites some examples, "Digg knows what stories you've submitted, what demographic you're in, how other people in your demographic react to what you post. MySpace can break its users down by almost any statistic imaginable" He also states, "Flickr is perhaps one of the most interesting ones. Search for 'cat', and Flickr will record the most popular photo clicked. By associating the colour and picture data within photos with keywords used to search, Yahoo is slowly building a database of human identification (Harris, 2006)."

After hearing this, I get a little more uneasy about using these sites. I wonder what Facebook knows about me...hmmm! It kind of makes me think I should unsubscribe to all Web 2.0 applications altogether.

I guess it comes down to the tolerances of the end user. Do you mind if Yahoo, Google, and MySpace know everything about you? Who knows, maybe by knowing consumers' likes and dislikes, companies will be able to meet our needs and desires better and more efficiently. It's still too early to tell how positive or negative these changes will be.

In The Classroom
The biggest issues I've found in the elementary classroom are students being tricked by "the pop-up phenomenon" and students logging on to membership sites to play games. Regarding the later these "gaming" membership sites are off limits during school hours. Sometimes students will try to log on in spite of this school rule. Teachers must be constantly vigilant in the supervision of students while they are online. I've seen advertising Websites with a gaming section. When a child does a search for games, the gaming page of these Websites turn up in the results and children are lured in. A little snooping around in the site and we find pages that ask for personal information. Teachers, be sure you approve and inspect all sites your students will be visiting during school hours. A good idea would be to go to one of these sites in the beginning of the year and show students the personal information trap.

My personal philosophy about giving personal information is as follows. If it's a membership I care about I give the minimum required by the site. If it's a site I'm just curious about, I never give factual information. In my years of surfing and signing up, this philosophy has served me well.

In closing, I'd like you to watch a 5 minute video from YouTube.com about privacy in the digital age called Privacy and the Network of You. There are some very important points discussed which relate to how businesses think about privacy issues (YouTube, 2007).

Web Privacy Links:
Help Safeguard Your Privacy on the Web

JUNKBUSTERS Alert on Web Privacy

Privacy and Profiling on the Web

Google search results for "internet privacy"
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=internet+privacy"web privacy"

Harris, Will. Why Web 2.0 will end your privacy

YouTube.com. Privacy and the Network of You/Sun Microsystems.

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