- Not offer a way to download our data in some sort of a standard, transparent, and at least somewhat human-siftable format
- Hide or otherwise be opaque about precisely what personal data you smuggle out of our devices
- Not offer a one-to-two-click process for deleting our accounts
- Fail to actually remove our data from your servers after we delete our accounts (while complying with applicable regional laws governing data retention)
- Believe that taking VC and selling your customers’s private information is the only way to get a company off the ground, let alone run a successful business
- Not use SSL for passing even the slightest bit of private information
Did I miss anything?
One thing: use rhetoric and spin to try and convince users that rabidly anti-consumer practices (such as those noted above) are good for society and that this kind of ‘radical transparency’ (i.e. screwing the customer for the benefit of the bottom line) is somehow going to make the world a better and happier place.
Jillian York, the Director of International Freedom of Expression at the EFF, has a good (and quick) thought on Twitter’s recent decision to ‘censor’ some Tweets in particular geographical areas. Essentially,
Let’s be clear: This is censorship. There’s no way around that. But alas, Twitter is not above the law. Just about every company hosting user-generated content has, at one point or another, gotten an order or government request to take down content. Google lays out its orders in itsTransparency Report. Other companies are less forthright. In any case, Twitter has two options in the event of a request: Fail to comply, and risk being blocked by the government in question, or comply (read: censor). And if they have “boots on the ground”, so to speak, in the country in question? No choice.
In the event that a company chooses to comply with government requests and censor content, there are a number of mitigating steps the company can take. The most important, of course, is transparency, something that Twitter has promised. Google is also transparent in its content removal (Facebook? Not so much). Twitter’s move to geolocate their censorship is also smart, given the alternative (censoring it worldwide, that is) – particularly since it appears a user can manually change his or her location.
I tend to agree with her position. I’m not particularly happy that Twitter is making this move but can appreciate that from an Internet governance - and national sovereignty - position that Twitter’s new policy ‘fits’ with international practices. Further, the company’s unwillingness to globally censor is positive, and limits that damage caused by state-mandated censorship.
Admittedly, I’d like to see the company go a bit further that is in line with their drive towards transparency. Perhaps if you did a keyword search in a particular geographic area you might receive a notice reading, “Some items in this search have been censored in your region” or something along those lines. Still, Twitter is arguably the best ‘good’ company that is prominent in the social networking environment at the moment, so I’ll hope they make additional steps towards full transparency rather than lambasting the company for its policy changes right now.
A really terrific paper on social media and ‘stranger danger’. You should read it.
I don’t dislike Google. Many of the company’s products are incredibly delightful to use. I support a fair amount of the company’s public advocacy work, though not all of it (caveat: the same could be said of almost all organizations I’m sympathetic towards). That said, I think think that their policy regard real names and pseudonyms if fucking absurd. As noted by Ars:
On Monday, Google Product Vice President Bradley Horowitz wrote on Google+ that the company will roll out its name policy changes this week. One change is that anyone will be able to add nicknames in addition to their real names. The more significant change, however, is that Google will also let people use pseudonymsinstead of a real name, but there are caveats. Horowitz indicates that the pseudonym must be established and well-known in order to qualify for a Google+ profile.
“Starting today we’re updating our policies and processes to broaden support for established pseudonyms, from +trench coat to +Madonna,” Horowitz wrote. Google may flag the name that a person intends to use and ask for additional information to confirm the person’s identity, including “Scanned official documentation, such as a driver’s license” or “Proof of an established identity online with a meaningful following.” This would seem to raise privacy problems for those who need pseudonyms for safety reasons, but a post in Mashable says “Google will destroy all documentation you send them once the account verification process is complete.”
Seriously: your pseudonym has to be “established and well known”?! By who’s standards? If I have an offline pseudonym does that count? What if my pseudonym is ‘common’ and used by a lot of people - does that impact how well ‘established’ it is?
Google is actively trying to force people into their social network and they’re just being horrific to their end-users in the process. Demanding that people provide official documents to join a social network?! Ridiculous.