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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Study Shows Social Networks Leak Personal Information

8 July 2010 by Lady Penelope

A study out this week shows that social networking sites accessed through mobile devices are making data about users’ physical locations available to third party websites.

Researchers have reported that every one of the sites examined in the study, has leaked some kind of private information either to tracking sites or to other social networking services.

With one eye permanently focused on all things internet related, UKFast spotted these shocking statistics last week as the results of the latest study conducted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

This research has analysed the practise of 20 social networks including the most popular sites; Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter.

Craig Wills, professor of computer science at WPI and a co-author of the study stated, “This initial look at mobile online social networks raises some serious concerns, but there is more work to be done.

“The fact that third-party sites now seem to have the capacity to build a comprehensive portrait of mobile online social network users argues for a comprehensive way to capture the entire gamut of privacy controls into a single, unified, simple, easy-to-understand framework.”

Of course this news comes just days after Facebook received a wave of criticism aimed at its own privacy policy.

The social networking giant has been slated for creating tools that make it easier to share user information with third-party web sites, as well as making its privacy controls too complicated.

In response, Facebook has announced that it will be offering new, simpler privacy controls. However, critics are still sceptical about the nature of these new tools and the extent to which they will increase user confidentiality.

The results from this latest WPI survey indicate that a unified approach to privacy is becoming an increasingly important priority for both industry experts and social network users.

Wills states that a cohesive approach to confidentiality would ensure that, “users make informed choices about their online privacy and feel confident that they are sharing their personal, private information only with those they choose to share it with.”

Due to the nature of our industry, at UKFast we are well positioned to understand and emphasise the importance data security in all areas of business.  Consequently we have recently applied for, and been awarded the ISO27001 accreditation for our information security systems.

We remain hopeful that the results from this recent investigation form an important stepping stone in the battle for a more transparent and cooperative approach to privacy issues.