Monday, July 8, 2013

What's Really In Those Privacy Statements?

The first step to protecting your privacy is often in what seems like 8 point font on a small screen.  That pesky privacy policy always pops up at the worst time - when you just want to get into the app.  You click “ok” or “accept” and move on, never to actually READ the privacy policy.  So to most of us, privacy is a mystery or we just assume we don’t have any, right?   
Many people sheepishly admit to us “I never really read that thing” some might even say, “What’s the point?”   Admittedly, some of these policies are long, confusing, and really hard to follow.  

Your Privacy Policy Questions Answered:

1.  I clicked on “accept” and now I want to go back and read the privacy policy, how do I find it?

Go to your favorite search engine and type in the name of the social network + privacy policy.  Or sometimes you might see a link to “Our Privacy Policy” or “Terms of Service” on the bottom of the home page of the site.

2.  What am I looking for in the Privacy Policy?
If the site allows minors, do they do anything special for minors to protect their data from predators, marketers, and strangers?
What information does the company collect about me?  Who do they share it with?
Do they use cookies?
Do I have any “opt out” choices?

3.  How do I make sense of a particular policy?
It’s not always easy but we found a guide that is a great new research tool for ANYONE that goes online.  The guide is called the CATSMI project for  “The Canadian Access to Social Media Information Project”.  It lists over 20 popular social media services.   CATSMI is super easy to use.  Just click on "Learn About..." -> "A Network" and choose the social media network that you want to learn more about.

What’s great about this new research that’s online, you can search by a site such as “Disney Club Penguin” or “Tumblr” or search by question such as, “Does the PII collected change depending on whether you’re an adult or a child?” and the site will display that answer by the social media network.  Note to parents:  Facebook and YouTube say they collect personally identifiable information about kids the same as difference.  

CATBEARDING:  It’s an internet meme where people get their cat to snuggle with them so the bottom of their face is right under your nose making it look like you have a beard on.  They then post their catbearding photo to photo sharing and social networking sites.  

To learn more about the CATSMI project go to:

To see some examples of catbearding go to:

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