As opposed to email, which was born as a means to communicate in businesses closed networks, and then it expanded quickly when the Internet was ubiquitous; social media, specifically social networks were born after the Web was used mostly everywhere.
This poses an interesting puzzle: are your accounts yours? Do you keep them and care for them as if they are a precious possession that is part of who you are? Did you ever read the terms and conditions before accepting them and signing in?
Seems like the accounts we create and use on most social networks are viewed as an extension of us as individuals. For those of us that have an account on Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest, to mention just a few; it feels weird to add or request to be linked to someone who is not a friend or family member or who has some kind of personal preference similar to ours. Specifically, if a supervisor or co-worker or the companies we work for request we start using any of such tools in order to “increase productivity, be more reachable, communicate more effectively” or anything else; we seem to think that it is an invasion of our privacy. Corporations have tried for years now to make employees use specific social media features in a working environment but nobody really seems to like the idea. Some employees reluctantly do because of the fear of being fired, but try to avoid using such tools.
Even on those social networks that lean towards business type such as Crossing (Xing) and Linked-In, when we are asked to include Jane or Joe in our circles, it feels weird to simply do it and that’s it. We immediately start thinking about the many implications that simple action would carry when we might know they are almost impossible to work with, or they are close to be promoted and could become our supervisors; or if we have plans to change jobs in the near and even faraway future. Something seems not to be right.
A decade ago, a high percentage of the connected population would answer to a poll that the very first thing they did in the morning was check email. Today, checking Facebook, Twitter and similar networks is the first thing we do, mainly when our phones are turned on and the chimes indicate a new tweet, message, post or invite. Email was more private, we could choose who the recipients were, and they would forward the message to the ones they decided, if at all. With Social Media, mostly everything is public.
So, how should we treat those accounts? Do we realize how fragile such relationship to those tools are, and mainly know that those accounts are not really our possession? What would happen if the companies behind them suddenly decide to do whatever they want with all that information, or cancel access for all of us?
We are kind of vulnerable here, aren’t we? How would you be reading these lines without haven’t been redirected from the Social Network you were using?
What do you think with regards to the ownership of all the data you have posted?