Do You Have The Right To Complain About Privacy On Free Apps?

Privacy is such a fine line when it comes to social networks. Because in theory we want the platform to be free, have all of the bells and whistles for friction-less sharing, and yet we still want to maintain what’s ours as ours, from photos to personal information. But is that realistic? Do we really have the right to complain about the backend operations of something that is essentially free?

Recently I was reading an article by Melonie Dodaro on Top Dog Social Media about 5 Instagram alternatives you can use if you are worried about the privacy of your photos. Remember when all of the celebs were in an uproar over Instagram changing their privacy statement?  Kim Kardashian took to Twitter and said she was going to stop using the site due to its new privacy policy. And National Geographic posted they were quitting (picture left).

And even though Instagram revoked their change in a blog post back in December, their Terms of Use still includes that, “non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service.” This essentially means that they are not going to sell your images, but they have the right to license them to anyone, anywhere, for any reason.

When you think about it, all of these social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and others, all provide their platforms and services so you can connect with your friends across the world and they do it all for free. All they are asking for in return is to be able to data mine a little information about you because they all predominantly (with the exception of maybe Google)  make their money off of advertising. In fact, isn’t that what paid search advertising does? They look at where you’ve just browsed and then start serving up relevant content to you based on your browsing preferences  and the location of your IP address.

On the flip side, it’s not your fault that they have a crappy business model and this is the only way they can generate real revenue. In fact, you’re the one who made them popular to begin with so why shouldn’t you get a little piece of the action and charge them to use your data, such as in the class action case of Facebook using “likes” in sponsored stories without the permission of its users?

Unfortunately, most Americans have no idea of how much of their personal data is collected and stored by these social media sites, which includes everything from your profile photo to your browsing history. However, does this still give social networks the right to use your data even if they are providing the service for free?

Is it a quid pro quo? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.


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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.