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Privacy controversy with social apps still being risky


Social Media


Privacy has, and will likely remain, a staple in conventional technology discussions. As the technology advances, and content is streamlined and merged on an almost weekly basis, the need for privacy and the expectations for privacy waver by the month. A trusted company breaches that privacy, and where before it was entirely unacceptable and may result in legal ramifications, in the future it may be a more acceptable recourse for advancing technologies.

 As privacy issues alter, society needs to remain consistent with their attitude towards privacy breaching. The controversial Apple App Store has included a slew of privacy issues. One of the most notable was the controversy over the App Path. Path promised a more privacy-centered alternative to popularized social media sources. With Facebook’s own privacy issues hitting the mainstream, Path deemed itself a source to trade status updates, follow friends, and post images and messages, all in the context that your privacy is controlled and sustained.

 In no due surprise, information leaked pertaining to addresses, where the developers of Path were tracking address records of all its users. The developer reaffirmed they would be deleting all the data, but why keep it in the first place? And though this was a big deal in culture, why were there no legal ramifications? Apple’s policy, and the law, dictates that an app cannot transmit data about a user without the user’s knowledge and permission. So as we formulate why this was occurring, we need to assess the value of the information, and if it is happening more than we know.

So what is the use of this information? Well, one would be marketing, where a company can use information gathered from its users to target market their products and services. For the more cynical individuals, another use can be for resale to other companies who may find value in obtaining mass pools of data.

So what exactly does this mean? With just a few scattered cases of privacy breaching, it takes only a small bit of assuming to affirm that there are more companies breaching privacy and simply getting away with it. And though Apple, and other platform companies, have specified rules, it by no means is foolproof and means all companies will follow suit appropriately.

Facebook gathers roughly 800 million worldwide users, and is one of the largest and influential forces in modern society. With such a large user base, it would seem that privacy breaching would be extremely powerful. There have absolutely been individual privacy issues involving Facebook. Users have stumbled upon something personal that should have been blocked, and others have lost jobs because their privacy settings were ill-advised. And that is ignoring the moral debate of what is private and what is not? With Facebook’s transparency, what can someone REALLY learn by navigating the expanse of social media?

Unfortunately, the answer is…a lot. As the privacy discussion raises attention, we need to find a comfortable balance in what is allowed and what is strictly private when it comes to new technological advances and gathering of knowledge. But one thing is for sure- as long as private data remains important and vital, there will be users who will access private information for their personal gain. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can establish privacy laws and regulations that are affirmed by law and not flimsy practices of ethics.

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