Who is to blame anyway?

SocNets has been in the news a lot over the last year, especially when detailing how easy it is to violate an individual’s privacy through the use of published profile information. Take for example the 2008 BlackHat presentation provided by Nathan Hamiel and Shawn Moyer called “Satan is on my Friends List (Hamiel & Moyer, 2008).“ In this presentation Hamiel and Moyer, discuss, among other things, how easy it is to mine, either manually or in an automated fashion, individual’s personal information posted to their profile.

Interestingly, in the news yesterday a lawsuit was announced against SocNet giant FaceBook. The lawsuit accuses Facebook of multiple counts of violations of privacy (Stafford, 2009). While I am left wondering about the ethical and legal nature of what SocNet giants like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn do with people’s personal information; and feel that there needs to be accountability to consumers, there is another side of me altogether that asks if it is not the fault of the users for being so trusting and foolish with their own private information.

As an example: Daily on Facebook I am flooded by hundreds of imbecilic “apps” that want me to guess this or try this or do that. Each and every one of these apps, when run, is granted access to the personal information that you have within your social networking account. And yet, people continue to run these ridiculous foolish apps, over and over, day in and day out, without a single thought as to what these applications are actually doing with their data.

In examining this issue, I would say that I certainly think that SocNets need to be held accountable for using the data provided to them in appropriate ways; however, I think users must become more informed, and aware of what these organizations are doing with their data. I find it ironic that it is often the same users that are bemoaning the loss of privacy that are providing a minute by minute play of what they are doing in the privacy of their own home.


Hamiel, N., & Moyer, S. (2008, April). BlackHat-Japan-08-Moyer-Hamiel-Satan-Friends-List.pdf. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from BlackHat: http://www.blackhat.com/presentations/bh-jp-08/bh-jp-08-Moyer-Hamiel/BlackHat-Japan-08-Moyer-Hamiel-Satan-Friends-List.pdf
Stafford, P. (2009, August 19). Facebook sued over privacy violations. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from SmartCompany: http://www.smartcompany.com.au/web-20/20090819-facebook-sued-over-privacy-violations.html