Internet & networks

The future of the Social Network pt1


In an increasingly interconnected world a web presence is not only something to be desired it is absolutely necessary as envisaged by the multitude of networking sites littering the webspace.Discounting (or perhaps not) the 600 pound gorilla that is facebook , we have a bunch of up and coming contenders to the throne of social media like the appleseedproject and recently diaspora.

Watching a news blurb on the Bbc there was a talking head being interviewed and what he said struck me as quite succint , essentially he’s of the opinion that fb as a social network is unassailable by any competitors due to the massive userbase it commands and its momentum in adding hordes of new users.Th first thing I thought of was “thats what they were saying about Microsoft in the 90s” and look at where we are now with Oses a dime a dozen and something new getting remixed everytime a itch has to be scratched.The hi5’s and myspace’s cmae and went and increasingly in the area of the social webits all about having something relevant and innovative to offer your users.Acouple of years ago that position was held by facebook as evidenced by their successes to date, as all incumbents do though fb has gotten complacent as is self evident by the gripes userc shave with its quicksand of privacy debacles.

Not to seem to be ragging on fb others such as foursquare have also had their dark days.

From wired:

Foursquare is one of the most popular of a growing number of services that let people quickly report to friends, family or the entire world where they are — and is part of a growing trend of making public more information that used to be private. Foursquare’s popularity is tied to its game-like ecosystem, where users can win “badges” for certain actions or become the “mayor” of locations by checking in there more than any other users.

On pages like the one for San Francisco’s Ferry Building, Foursquare shows a random grid of 50 pictures of users who most-recently checked in at that location – no matter what their privacy settings. When a new check-in occurs, the site includes that person’s photo somewhere in the grid. So Andersen built a custom scraper that loaded the Foursquare web page for each location in San Francisco, looked for the differences and logged the changes.

Whikle tools like openid exist out there their uptake with the general users is pitifully slow and still doesnt address the fact that for every site you log into you leave a trail of breadcrumbs about yourself and given sufficient motivation there are those online that will make use of it(see rule 34 of the internets).

Or another case:

Since Facebook changes its security policies about every 3 seconds, your worries are not limited just to someone seeing a post and telling someone else. In fact, personal pages on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook rank pretty high in Google searches. So that means that a potential employer who’s looking at your resume could also be finding out via social networking about your membership in that Neo-Nazi Glee Club even though your account settings are “Friends only.” (Studies show that 78% of recruiters use Google to research job candidates and social networking sites rank very highly on Google.)

And don’t forget that Facebook is like “Six Degrees of Separation” on Barry Bonds-grade steroids. Even if you make a comment on someone else’s page, THAT person’s friends will see it, and then every friend of those friends will see it, etc.

Thus the question becomes how do we interactwith the social network and the internet at large , it is possible to have as many email accounts and login details as you feel you need to remain aanonymous but that is a cumbersome and highly impractical solution that ends up defeating itself in the long run , case in point which account did you use to login to a particlar site and do you have multiple account on a particular site because you forgot you were already logged on.

Additonally do you trust the custodian of your online identity to be discreet and mindful of your needs , as with most corps the larger percentage of online entities are more interesrted with the bottom line than with any ideological concerns.This is taken from the latest revision of the facebook TOS(emphasis mine):

  • For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
  • When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).
  • When you publish content or information using the “everyone” setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).

You agreed to all of the above by simply clicking on that sign up button , to be honest not a great many users read through all the privacy policies when signing up trusting to the vendor that their rights will not be violated,the preceeding chunk of legalese confers upon fb a whole host of rights that most users properly informed would think twice and then think about it once more.

What im advocating for is nothing new and there art ecountless articles online eschewing the importance of gopd data custodianship and efficient privacy controls that are understandable by users.What is lacking is a ubiquity in the implementation of a system that allows a user achieve three things without too much of a hassle.A user should be able to:

  1. .Choose what aspects of their personal data is available to online vendors
  2. .The ability to select the custodian of their data annd have an open framework to change them as they deem fit
  1. Make it as simple as possible for novice users to manage and organise their online presence

In order to foster adoption and faster uptake of such a system an open model is to be preferred to allow as much of a open community of developers and users to take advantage of it.

The first two I would consider the most important and serious issues to be tackled, so I shall try and give a brief of what I see as their role in social network webscape.


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