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Accidental sharing -- the plague of the always-connected era

Paul Venezia | Jan. 25, 2016
In the age of social media, it’s not necessarily in a company’s best interests to provide clear and concise controls over information access

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Via Facebook, a friend invited me to a surprise birthday party for her sister last week, and I perchance ran into her a few days later. We chatted about this and that, then I asked about the surprise party. Her demeanor changed as she described the difficulty in using Facebook to invite people without alerting her sister to the event. She wasn't certain she succeeded, but after spending more than an hour painstakingly reviewing everything she could find relating to who might be able to view the event, she decided that she'd done all she could and fired it off.

Of course, it came back to her sister anyway, possibly because someone inadvertently shared it on their own timeline.

The fact of the matter is, for most people, it's impossible to know exactly who can see what we write and post on social media sites. We may think we know how to create a private message or how to include only a select group of people, but a minor slip of the finger or a check box left to the defaults can easily be our undoing.

People send public tweets with personal information all the time, because they think they're sending a direct message. People post search strings on Facebook as statuses, which tells all of their friends who they're trying to search for. In many cases, social media sites are presenting their nontech users with access control methods that rival IT authentication and authorization policies in complexity, and this leads to mayhem for unwitting users.

It's not only social media; it extends to all kinds of consolidated cloud services as well. This is how a father buys his child an iPad and signs in with his Apple ID to buy a few apps. Later on, he discovers that his child has seen every text message he's sent and received, every picture taken, and various other items that perhaps shouldn't be on his daughter's iPad. He only discovered this because someone called his iPhone and her iPad started ringing too.

On the one hand, it's great that I can move between devices and maintain conversations over a variety of mediums, answer phone calls on my laptop, or access any number of features designed to help streamline my workflow. However, perhaps there should be clearer and more significant warnings about these functions from the start -- and it's probably best to make them opt-in. If that father had been presented with a dialog detailing exactly what iCloud functions would be enabled on his daughter's iPad, he could have made an informed decision to turn those off -- and ultimately made the right move to get her an Apple ID of her own, linked to his account.


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