Social media apps such as “like” buttons that are designed to allow users to share things over the internet have become highly popular, but have also brought about unprecedented risks to privacy and security that are building a need for improved federal privacy laws.
Currently, apps for social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook permit the collection of a significant amount of personal data because virtually anyone can develop a social media app that connects directly into the social networking service. Though these services were created primarily to allow consumers to be better identified and tracked for improved advertising and selling, this data is now becoming available to anyone who wants it.
The non-profit advocacy group, Online Trust Alliance’s executive director, Craig Spiezle, explained that the primary concept was to be able to provide users with services and advertising that was more relevant to each individual. He also added that “However, in the wrong hands or without consumer consent, you run into the danger that that information can be used against their wishes.”
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Spiezle stated that there isn’t much in the way of developers who seek to combine and append personal data that has been drawn out of a number of different sources. Though these tiny pieces are harmless individually, when enough is collected, it can offer the app developer a significant amount of information about an individual user.
According to CEO Michael Fertik of the Reputation.com privacy services firm, downloading these social media apps is as simple as clicking a “like” button that has been embedded in a blog, a game, or an online survey.