Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another discussion point

Discussion Point: This is something that still needs to be refined (but would be a good essay /discussion point). Thinking about the recent SNS developments, one has to admit that Facebook, MySpace, Bebo etc. (other than the search engines such as PIPL, Zoom Info) is probably the "best" freely available public databases (searchable on PIPL , Wink etc) and accessible to anybody including marketers (irrespective of technological controls). Consider this as your "Yellow pages"/"White pages" or BT/192 directory search. Free public sector information for employers, education establishments, marketers, law enforcement agencies etc. One may "sugarcoat" it (or to stretch this further "put the icing on the cake") and call it as another means of communicating/networking, but ultimately, when stripped down to its bare minimum, it is nothing more than another public database which is operated by various companies. The question is who owns this information? You or MySpace, Bebo etc. What if this information is later extracted and added onto another database to form a personal profile (or as one author wrote "online profiling"....?)? One need only have a couple of info specialists to do this and we have another database. We are certainly not far from online profiling and it is becoming far easier to use/reuse this information. This raises another question from the context of the European Commission current consultation into the Review of the PSI Re-Use Directive. Consultation is now closed, but probably worth revisiting some of the issues (re-use). Public databases and making information available (let alone "personal information") for free.

On a different note, there will be a social networking symposium which touches on privacy issues for those interested in developing this further.

Essay question for the week: Social networking is just another freely available public database accessible to anybody. Discuss.


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