Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Social networks and privacy issues

There have been issues around privacy, in some cases involving social networks:
The questions are: what is privacy, what is a social network and how do they relate?

What is privacy?
  • When personal details are visible to unwanted persons; when a link between details and a person is visible.
  • Personal details in levels: the person, personal identifiers (name, (email) address), aliasses (username, avatar, bank account no, passport no, social security no, member no, registration no), expressions (likes, clicks, cookies, location, availability).
Privacy concerns are about:
  • Social networking: what do we share?
  • Technology: are the data selected & distributed by computers/algoritms alone, or also by editors & sales persons?
  • Advertising: free services cost money and are funded by ads; but are the ads/funds a means to an end (Google: solve all the world's problems with software/hardware), or a goal in itself to maximise profit/cashflow/value (Facebook)?
Why is privacy an issue?
  • Spam, targeted ads, recommendations.
  • Fraud, theft.
  • Stalking, assault, (child) abuse.
  • Information shared with unwanted people (employer, tax office, competitor, enemy, etc.)
  • Information shared among social networks when they cooperate or merge.
There is a low entry barrier to build a social network, but it's difficult to reach scale, build an audience and get the network effect to work for you.

What is a social network?
  1. A service you sign up to.
  2. A service you contribute to.
  3. Allows for sharing (i.e. bank account holders and utility/telco/cableco subs don't count as a social network).
1. How does one sign up?
  • Name
  • Alias
2. What can one contribute?
  • Communication:
    • streaming audio: voice call
    • streaming audio + video: video call
    • text: chat/IM, SMS, email
    • attachment: emoticon, sticker; photo; audioclip; videoclip; doc
    • metadata: tags; url, link; like; location; availability
  • Entertainment/media:
    • print/text
    • music
    • pictures
    • videos
    • games
3. Is one allowed to share?
  • In communication, this is implicit.
  • In media, piracy issues are introduced.
Social networks morph:
  • Google buys Pyra Labs (Blogger); Google buys YouTube; YouTube (UGC) adds professional content; Google buys Waze; Google adds VoIP to Hangouts
  • Facebook: adds Messenger; Facebook Messenger: adds VoIP; Facebook buys WhatsApp; WhatsApp adds VoIP; Facebook buys Instagram; Instagram adds video; Instagram cuts 22 minute sitcom episode into 109 15 second clips
  • Amazon buys IMDB, Goodreads.
  • LinkedIn buys SlideShare, Pulse.
  • Twitter buys Vine.
  • Line: adds VoIP.
  • Yahoo! buys Flickr, Tumblr.
What will be next?
  • All chat apps will add VoIP.
  • Photo sharing apps will add movies and games.
  • Social networks will add communication and media.
What will be the end game?
  • Social network enables sharing anything?
  • Social network focuses?
What is the best strategy to survive in the long term?
  • Build massive scale.
  • Choose your strategy: share anything/everything versus focus.
  • Introduce a subscription fee to lower churn in the longer term. Or stay with advertising.