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Schneier's Revised Taxonomy of Social Data 28

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can't-see-through-tin-foil dept.
Jamie noted that over at Schneier's blog, he has a worthwhile entry on the data in the social networks. He writes "Lately I've been reading about user security and privacy — control, really — on social networking sites. The issues are hard and the solutions harder, but I'm seeing a lot of confusion in even forming the questions. Social networking sites deal with several different types of user data, and it's essential to separate them."
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Schneier's Revised Taxonomy of Social Data

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  • Unfortunately (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:47AM (#33204282)
    The unfortunate thing is that Schneier's taxonomic breakdown of data is most likely known by the majority here, and the folks who really need that information conveyed to them (ie mom and pop, aunt velma and her pic's of fluffy, partying cheerleader squad, drunk frat, etc..) will probably never see it, and if they did, they wouldn't understand it, or take heed to its importance even if they did.

    Not to mention large social sites are not really transparent with their collection and retention practices in the first place.

    Cynical, yes. Realistic, perhaps.
    • Indeed. The real problem with social data today is how asymmetric the availability is... If everyone's lives were 100% public all the time, it would just become the new norm and we would all adapt and deal with it.

      But that's not the way it is at all: some people don't show up on the web, some people who don't know what they're doing end up with all sorts of permanent self-incriminating data, and those of us who know the score work hard to ensure we look good through every available channel.

      It's this asymmet

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lapsed (1610061)
      I hadn't heard about it until now, but I'm just one data point. Later in the post, Schneier writes that "there are other ways to look at user data," so it's not clear that his proposed taxonomy is the only way of classifying social networking data. What's weird about it is how it assumes and implies ownership. A user owns the page to which other users post, and as a result, the data posted by those other users is of a different type than the data posted by the page's 'owner'.
      Empirically, these types don't
  • by whencanistop (1224156) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:37AM (#33204854) Homepage Journal

    We often don't mind if a site uses it to target advertisements, but are less sanguine when it sells data to third parties.

    Really this is the problem with the whole privacy thing that has caused so much issue in the past. The problem isn't that the company collects the data, it is that they then sell it to third parties to make a profit.

    Similarly if you look at the in depth report that the WSJ published [wsj.com] then the real issue isn't the use of cookies or even the collection of the behavioural data - it is that they have then sold out to third parties by either selling the data or allowing them to collect it in the first place (which they can then do whatever they want with).

    • by roqetman (217708)

      The bigger question is that if they paid you when they sold that data, would you mind? - I think it's a question of how much is that data worth.

    • We often don't mind if a site uses it to target advertisements, but are less sanguine when it sells data to third parties.

      The problem isn't that the company collects the data, it is that they then sell it to third parties to make a profit.

      Especially when the sale is made without consulting the data itself; Putting data to work without it's consent is data slavery! Information wants to be Free!

    • by Fnord666 (889225) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @01:49PM (#33206606) Journal

      Really this is the problem with the whole privacy thing that has caused so much issue in the past. The problem isn't that the company collects the data, it is that they then sell it to third parties to make a profit.

      One important thing to keep in mind is that the users of these sites are not the customer, they (or at least the data that they generate) are the merchandise.

  • social data vs pr0n? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:46AM (#33204994)

    Story about a fuzzy taxonomy of social data gets like 4 posts, whereas a taxonomy of Pr0n would probably have about 900 comments by now.

  • After the release of all of the publicly available facebook data last week there's a real question of who owns your data, and if it's public does that mean it should be publicly accessible via open APIs for anyone to grok? an immature but developing example is things like phasebook http://github.com/philcryer/phasebook [github.com]
  • by SomePoorSchmuck (183775) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @01:43PM (#33206548) Homepage

    The funny thing about Facebook is that it is similar to television: You've been given the impression you're the customer, but you're actually the product being sold to the real customers - advertisers.

    Facebook just takes it another step, because you're voluntarily giving them extensive data about who you are as an individual, as well as involuntarily (or unknowingly for most people) letting the technology create profiles of your browsing habits. If that weren't enough, there is the further twist - at least on TV there are professional artists and actors and creative types who are producing the content you enjoy. On Facebook, the content is created by you and your friends and given away for free to the website owners.

    So all they have to do is create a database infrastructure, then you and your friends come along and do almost all the Data Entry, and while you're doing it they're watching you and adding meta-data to their private database, then they can turn around and sell all the aggregate data to their customers. Profit!

    At the peak of the show "Friends", Jennifer Aniston was getting paid a million dollars for pretending to be Rachel whatsherface for each 30 minute episode. The million dollars ultimately came from advertisers who bought airtime from the network.

    We are now self-creating global databases with billions of entries and in return are getting... the ability to "poke" someone from your 10th grade Health class. Meanwhile, how much money is Google, Facebook, BlackPlanet, etc. making from both the ads already on their sites, and the immediate/future revenue from the data we are giving them?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      My girlfriend was browsing facebook on a system without adblock and I glanced over at her screen. It was _filled_ up with bridal advertisements. Get married here! Have this cake! Perfect honeymoon! I logged into the site and saw nothing like that. She fits the advertising profile— no doubt. Age, gender, — in a relationship for many years... etc. Lucky for me she's as disinterested as I am or somewhat more.

      This got me thinking though— what influence does this kind of thing have— ce

    • by Kikuchi (1709032)

      The funny thing about Facebook is that it is similar to television: You've been given the impression you're the customer, but you're actually the product being sold to the real customers - advertisers.

      A (now former) french private television network's CEO, Patrick Le Lay, drew criticisms to himself with his now infamous quote "What we sell to Coca-Cola is available human brain time." [wikipedia.org]

    • We are now self-creating global databases with billions of entries and in return are getting... the ability to "poke" someone from your 10th grade Health class

      We're getting a hell of a lot more back than that. We're getting the best web search and email services available, free of charge. We're getting a service that allows us to stay in touch with an extended group of friends and acquaintances easily, free of charge.

      And what are we giving away in return? A bunch of inane data about our lives, which allows advertisers to perfectly fine tune and target the adverts which never make it past our ad-blockers anyway.

      I can't pretend that I'm not the least bit concerned

      • We are now self-creating global databases with billions of entries and in return are getting... the ability to "poke" someone from your 10th grade Health class

        We're getting a hell of a lot more back than that. We're getting the best web search and email services available, free of charge. We're getting a service that allows us to stay in touch with an extended group of friends and acquaintances easily, free of charge.

        And what are we giving away in return? A bunch of inane data about our lives, which allows advertisers to perfectly fine tune and target the adverts which never make it past our ad-blockers anyway.

        I can't pretend that I'm not the least bit concerned about the amount of data these companies are racking up. To a certain extent, I'm just playing devil's advocate to your comment. But these things are always a trade-off. Most of my friends are on Facebook. I'm not going to miss out on communicating with them just in case the next advert I see is for a band I despise a little less than usual

        I hear you. One day about a year and a half ago I came to the sudden realization that I didn't seem to be reading and replying to personal email at the same level as from 1997-2007. After a couple days spent looking over my mail accounts chronologically, and thinking about the situation, I became convinced that the trend was real, and an explanation presented itself -- nobody is on email anymore because they're all on Facebook, and that's where they do most of their daily communicating. (And at this point i

  • not just "selling" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by paramour (110003)

    The problem isn't that the company collects the data, it is that they then sell it to third parties to make a profit.

    No, the problem isn't limited to selling. Data gets lost or stolen with alarming frequency: someone leaves a laptop on a train, with the data unencrypted; a web site permits SQL injection hacks; an employee walks away with with a flash drive; a National Security Letter arrives. You're lucky if you ever hear of any of these happening.

    So even if the company has the best intentions and never s

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