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    ReadWriteWeb: On Privacy in Social Networks: What Drives Users?

    ReadWriteWeb has the first of three planned articles on privacy.

    To date, we witness the mass adoption of social networks. Roughly every 10th citizen of this planet uses these services to communicate with others. For the satisfaction of human need like socialization and self-esteem, users visit these services – very often more than daily. In communication, regardless of online or offline, people put their privacies at risk for some benefit.

    In the offline world, we learned since our childhood how to do this properly with respect to the culture we live in. We learned how physics of the world around us work: We know when spoken word is recorded or who can see us communicating with someone. For most given communication situations, we perceive a level of transparency by censoring the surroundings to control the receivers for what we want to say. […]

    Compared to everyday communication offline, social networks bring a new party into play: the providers. The fact that providers can freely define their platforms’ rules for communication is one reason for many of the problem areas highlighted in the following. Commercial providers run social networks as an ecosystem to generate content and knowledge. That is content about users and other things like locations or photos. From that content, knowledge can generated and monetized, such as to run targeted ads. This ecosystem must be ensured to remain attractive to its users. Otherwise, they would stop to revisit it. […]

    The users of a social network want to satisfy human needs. Therefore, we expose some of our personal information to, in return, receive a satisfaction. Like in the offline world, we need tools that provide us with transparency and control of the audience for our content. The problem is as simple as controversial: as users want to control the reach of their personal stuff, which is most likely a limiting need, providers want to spread user-generated content as wide as possible to keep up the heartbeat of their products.

    In this three post series, I want to deal with the problem areas involved in this field. I will explain these areas and provide hands-on tips. As highlighted in the below graphic, this post concentrates on the users’ decision-making process as well as their behavior as to befriending other users and its consequences.

    Read the full article for more information:

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