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Who Owns Your Social Identity? 190

wjousts writes "Who actually owns your username on a website? What rights do you have to use it? An IEEE Spectrum podcast reports: 'What happens if Facebook or Twitter or, say, your blog hosting service, makes you take a different user name? Sound impossible? It's happened. Last week, a software researcher named Danah Boyd woke up to find her entire blog had disappeared, and in fact, had been renamed, because her hosting service had given her blog's name to someone else.' And as important as they are, what protects our accounts are the terms of service agreements. If you read them — and who does? — you'd learn, probably to no surprise, that they protect the provider a lot more than they protect you."
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Who Owns Your Social Identity?

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  • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 ) on Monday May 09, 2011 @10:51PM (#36078818) Journal

    I'm torn on this. As much as I would like the server operators to have control as to what they do with their machines and the data, there is a trust relationship between the users and the service provider, and some rights that users should have are being violated in the name of profits--which is a sign that the model is breaking down in the face of a changing reality and needs to be changed--whenever you see humanity acting as a tool to serve the economy and not the other way around you should reexamine you priorities and goals.

    I'd like some sort of first come first serve system, but then you get cyber-squatters who buy up domains with no intention of using them just to extort money from people who would like to put them to good use; the same could be possible with usernames on popular sites but I'm not sure if that's happened before. The question is, how do you stop the squatters while protecting the rights of the little guy who got their first and is legitimately using a username or domain that a big powerful corporation or well connected individual has their eye on?

    I was able to register the vanity URL for my real name on Facebook, but if some more famous or powerful person came around with my same name (possible, it's that uncommon of a name) and wanted to take that URL from me I'd want there to be some protection against that. I registered the name first, it's my name so my claim to it is just as valid, money or power shouldn't have a say in who gets it and that seems to be a gap where we need legislation to protect people from the service operators.

  • by Fractal Dice ( 696349 ) on Monday May 09, 2011 @10:58PM (#36078846) Journal
    On a similar topic, could Facebook create an account for you "on your behalf" using information acquired from other sources where the fine print said they were allowed to share it?
  • You own your domain (Score:5, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Monday May 09, 2011 @11:11PM (#36078910)
    Uh, if keeping your online identity is that important to you, then why not just buy your own domain?

    What, did you think that Facebook or Twitter were obligated to keep your username intact? If you were on my system, would I be obligated to keep your username and account intact (politeness aside)?
  • by 7-Vodka ( 195504 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @12:14AM (#36079180) Journal

    With all the shit talking people do here on RMS, he's right on a lot of fundamental things. This includes his campaign against cloud services.

    The only reason you would have your host rename your blog or account with no regard to you is because you are not your own host. People enter into these disgusting one sided contracts multiple times per day and then they're surprised when the party holding all the cards actually plays them. It's the definition of stupidity.

    Willingly signing your rights away and then run around crying when you get shafted. Then you run crying to the politicians because now you need them to fix it, you don't care what they do but something must be done about it. And of course they seize the moment to push through whatever power grabbing measures that only go one way, ratcheting away everyone else's freedoms too with all sorts of unintended consequences.

    Same reason I'll never get a damn kindle.

  • Re:money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @12:15AM (#36079184)

    I get the feeling that you feel proud of a system where money can buy anything.

    I get the feeling you feel there's actually any real-life "system" where enough money can't buy anything. It's only a matter of price, blatantness, and which things are cheaper than others.

    There isn't any system where money can't corrupt, because the system is people and people have been, are, and will forever continue to be corruptible as long as people are people.

    The only defense is to make government as weak/small as possible on the national Federal Government scale to make it necessary for a would-be briber to have to bribe many, many politicians & officials across the entire nation instead of a handful or one to have national effect.

    The more power given to the current massive central government the more a target for corruption it becomes and the more damage that can be inflicted on the citizens, and the more power shifts to the rich political elite who have the connections and can afford to play.

    This is basically just systems analysis, people! A distributed system is less vulnerable to attack at a single or even multiple points. It can also be looked at as the US Constitution representing FOSS and Liberalism/Progressivism representing closed-source proprietary software.

    Hold on, hold on people! This isn't some troll/flame. Take a few moments to read and think about it.

    FOSS advocates for a distributed, volunteer method of development (Constitutional democracy, checks and balances, & free-market Capitalism) whereas closed-source proprietary software advocates for a central control with closed development and no source code access, restrictive EULA's, TOS's, etc (Liberal/Progressive top-down government command-&-control, centrally-planned/controlled economy, legislation/regulation control of people's behavior).

    I know I shouldn't be shocked, but it never ceases to amaze me how many times I hear and read comments from strong FOSS advocates against proprietary software using much of the same logic and many of the same arguments that invalidate Liberalism/Progressivism as viable, fair systems, yet are vocal supporters of the Left when it comes to politics and sneer at the very same logic and arguments they themselves used regarding FOSS vs closed-source proprietary software.


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