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140Mandak262Jamuna's Journal: Privacy concerns with social networking sites

Journal by 140Mandak262Jamuna
140Mandak262Jamuna writes " This company tries to become a social website by allowing its registered users to construct their family trees. The idea seems to be once a vast tree is created the users will be able to find their rich and famous relatives etc. I could imagine this being a very useful service to many people. One of my relatives added my name to his tree and geni created an account in my name and added me to the tree and notified me about it. The email had options to opt out of more spam from them. I had a talk with my relative and expressed my concern about adding vast quantities of private info about our lives to a searchable, indexable database owned by some for-profit company over which we have absolutely no control. As it is the net has so much of our public information. Why compound the problem by adding our private information as well?

Looks like it had an impact and my relative decided to close his account and destroy the tree. But geni claims they need my permission to destroy my account. Is it reasonable for a company that bribes its users with free family tree service in exchange for private info about people to follow a opt-out policy? Shouldn't they be required to notify me and get my consent before they add my name? I have received invites from other social networking sites, but they all require me to create an account first. If I ignore the email, I hope, they would not add me to their databases. Probably they will just sell my email address to spammers and stop with that.

I believe there is neither a technological or legal solution to this problem. A new geni.com could easily be run by Russian mafia outside US borders and thumb their noses at us. I think the only solution is social. They are using social engineering to pry private info from the public by offering some service or the other for free. We need to educate the public about the implications of succumbing to the temptations by them. Today if I set up a stand in a fairground and ask people to give the names, addresses and phone numbers of their relatives and friends in exchange for small token gifts the response would not be overwhelming. Somehow people believe it is wrong to tell strangers such information. But set up the same stand in the internet and people are punching in the email addresses of their friends and relatives like gangbusters. What would it take to educate the public about the menace to privacy these companies pose?"

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Privacy concerns with social networking sites

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