Would you pay Facebook to delete your data ?

General Election - Documents StockThere’s been a slew of privacy changes in Facebook in the last 6 months, Graph Search was announced last week and they’re trialing a new ‘pay to message’ service for people outside of your network (as well as the premium $100 price tag to spam Zuckerberg himself). It’s nothing new, LinkedIn has had this networking message model for years now with InMail.

But to all intents and purposes Facebook’s business model is no longer about Social Networking but Data Brokerage, your data to be more precise. And while many have been reaching for the deactivate account button after the Graph Search feature was unveiled, Facebook’s next trick could well be that you pay to delete the information you freely gave in the first place.

Your money or your data

Many social networks don’t actually delete your data completely. The information supplied, uploaded and tagged is still held on their servers. In fact it’s well known that people who have deleted Facebook profiles and then return to create a fresh one are confronted with the ability to reactivate the old one. But how can this be, you confirmed you wanted it deleted the first time…

In the UK many organisations are bound by the Data Protection Act and that they are not obliged to store your personal details for no legal reason if a relationship no longer exists. Some of this is time-barred and there are ways to contact companies to reveal all the information held. But it seems for social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc they are a law unto themselves and the legal grounds of data protection and privacy seem very shaky indeed for online media when it comes to deletion of information. While they claim nobody will ever access your information the itch at the back of your mind that your personal data is still there just won’t go away. You’ve removed your relationship with them, why can’t they remove your data ?

It’s a matter of IT policy

But there’s another issue and one which highlights the problems with networking. For enterprise social platforms like Tibbr, Jive, Yammer, Chatter the emphasis is on building collaboration, connections and the distribution of work and information on greater scales to engage the workforce and increase productivity and innovation. But what happens when an employee leaves ?

As a matter of IT policy all their system access within the organisation is closed off and in some cases archived. But in an enterprise network context the removal of a connection with high influence could wreak havoc. Think of all that contribution and rich source of information that may need to be removed, conversation threads disappear overnight with the solution to a particular problem you’ve been bugged with for months. The employee is well within rights to ask that it is.

Did you make it clear when they engaged with the enterprise network what would happen if they left ?

Did you consider to create separate terms and conditions for using the networking platform or just assume it would be covered under the standard employment contract ?

Does your enterprise social network platform cater for privacy and archival once an employee leaves in accordance to legislation ?

Data protection and privacy, whether as a person or employee, is a legal minefield  but with the addition of social and enterprise networking there are whole new areas to consider before signing up arbitrarily and giving away your information freely.

Your privacy may be paying the price long after you do.

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Categories: Privacy, Social / Collaboration

Author:Theo Priestley

Theo Priestley is a technology evangelist, industry analyst, startup advisor and writer. Theo has written analysis and insight on the enterprise software and tech industry since 2007 and provides marketing advice, business development and mentoring to startups and industry established vendors. He regularly contributes to a number of high profile technology, enterprise and customer-centric sites such as TechTarget, Wired Insights, Successful Workplace, ebizQ, BPM.com, The TIBCO Blog, Business2Community, CustomerThink!, Venturebeat and writes for his own blog, ITredux. You can follow Theo on Twitter @ITredux

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3 Comments on “Would you pay Facebook to delete your data ?”

  1. Doug Evans
    January 23, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Theo – thoughtful piece. I subscribe to the “Big Bus Theory”. What happens if a Big Bus picked up a co-worker and carried them to another company (or they get run-over / thrown-under)? If I know something, everyone else should know it, or at least be able to access it. The value of enterprise social media tools is they create an enduring place for that knowledge to be shared / stored / accessed. But we need to be cognizant of The Big Bus Theory when we set up those relationships… i.e. multiple content / subject owners, role-based permissions rather than person-based, etc.

  2. Manoj Oommen
    January 23, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    Great theo.. i am looking at the immense potential data has and the positive and negative effect it can have on you.We are reaching a stage where data is no more private and current generation being ignorant about privacy. Privacy need to be redefined.

    • Markus
      April 29, 2013 at 2:51 am #

      Privacy does not have to be redefined. Privacy has to be protected.
      There may be many, who don’t care for _their_ privacy. But there are still many, who care. And the latter have the right, that their [unredefined] privacy is protected — whether the former care for or not.

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