Bill of Rights for the Social Web – Yes, Sir!

Do we need a Bill of Rights for the Social Web?

1. Ownership of our own personal information.
2. Control of whether and how such personal information is used.
3. Freedom to grant persistent access to our personal info.


I think the number one concern for anyone who spends anytime on the Internet is his or her personal identity and information.  We know that Internet sites track our activity.  Amazon knows what music I listen to, what books I like.  For the consumer, that is great.  It helps me find the products I like and the products people similar to me buy.  On the other hand, I am not naïve.  I know just about every site does the same thing and they don’t have MY best interest in mind.  Knowing my interests, my behavior is very powerful information for marketers.

Do I think the powerhouses of the Social Web will buy into a Bill of Rights?  Nope.  Why would they sign on to something that restricts them?  Why would they sign onto something that would keep them from making money?  I don’t necessarily think that Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the like abuse the information they have on us.  They know our concerns and it behooves them to keep the millions of us who use their sites happy.

Facebook keeps me happy because I can control who is in my community.  I get to confirm or ignore friend requests.  I have people in high school trying to “friend” me that I did not really like then.  Why would I want to be friends with them now?  I know others who want as many friends as they can get.  Go for it!  It isn’t me.

That is the easy part.  In MY Facebook network, I get to own my personal information and control who gets access.  But one notch higher?  Does Facebook own my personal information?  Who do they give access to?  Do I get a say?  Should I?  Should there be a disclaimer when you sign on to a Social Networking platform that states “we will use the data gathered from your activity on this site to improve our systems and enhance your experience, AND sell it to…?”

If I were a company trying to sell a product, I would love to know some of the information found on Facebook.  The profile page tells me: age, geographic location, marital status, any children, ethnicity, hobbies, interests.  Wow!  I’ve got just the right product to sell THIS guy.  Is that bad?  As a consumer, wouldn’t it be great if the products you really needed found you?  Probably, but for me, I still want some control.

Yes.  I believe there should be a Bill of Rights for the Social Web.  I should get to own and control my personal information.  It’s mine, right?


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