Social Media: No “Friend” of Personal Privacy by Christopher Spinelli — 63
from “legalese.” §14 “Disputes” is a particularly bad example, as the Statement contains many loaded legal terms such as “indemnify and hold harmless,” which most users will not be able to properly interpret. §14.3 then provides a long disclaimer of responsibility, which is typed in all capital letters, limiting readability, and contains technical phrases such as “NON- INFRINGEMENT,” “DAMAGES, KNOWN AND UNKNOWN,” and “MATERIALLY AFFECTED.” Finally, §16, “Other,” adds several more critical disclaimers of responsibility in a set of seven disorganized sentences… the Statement reverts to increasingly arcane legal formalisms after
most users will have stopped reading.”23
Boyd’s story and the analysis conducted by Cambridge University’s Computing Laboratory illustrates that self- regulation has prompted social networking websites to take advantage of both the “knowledge gap” and “con- sent fallacy” for purely financial gains. The greater number of profiles that are open to the public increases the likelihood that advertisers will utilize the website. Default privacy settings allow companies to view a person’s interests, hobbies, etc. and advertise certain products to a specific individual. To generate considerable profit, social networking websites need to appeal to these advertisers. Therefore, ensuring that a large number of profiles remain public, to a large extent, conforms to the website’s financial interests.
V. Determining expectations of privacy on Facebook or MySpace
Law professor James Grimmelmann analyzes a pertinent case study in his lecture on Internet privacy and its application to Facebook,
“In 2006, two students at the University of Illinois were urinating on the front of a bar. When a police officer approached, Marc Chiles escaped while Adam Gartner was detained. Gartner denied knowing Chiles. Later, the officer accessed Facebook and scoured student profiles. When he realized Chiles and Gartner were Friends on Facebook the officer charged the latter
with obstruction of justice.”25
Grimmelmann goes on to explain that, “when users make privacy choices using Facebook’s technical controls, they’re expressing expectations about who will and won’t see their information, and society should treat those expectations as reasonable for Fourth Amendment purposes.”26 However, to date, Facebook has not been held legally responsible for policing its own network. Although it explicitly states to its users that it has no control over the actions of other individuals using the website, there should at least be some measures taken to deter hackers or law enforcement officials from using the network in a criminal manner, legally or otherwise. The same M.I.T. students who reported that over 90% of users of Facebook stated that they had not read the site’s terms and conditions, were also able to download over 70,000 profiles using an applica-
23 Bonneau, Joseph, Soren Preibusch, Jonathan Anderson, Richard Clayton, and Ross Anderson. Democra- cy Theatre: Comments on Facebooks Proposed Governance Scheme. Rep. University of Cambridge Com- puter Laboratory, 2009. 4-5. Web. <http://preibusch.de/publications/Bonneau_Preibusch_Anderson_Clayton Anderson__Facebook_Governance_Comments.pdf>. _
24 Bonneau, Preibusch, J. Anderson, Clayton, and R. Anderson, Democracy Theatre: Comments on Face- books Proposed Governance Scheme 5.
25 Grimmelmann, James. Internet Law: Spring 2010. Reading Packet 3: Privacy, 50. New York Law School. Web. <http://james.grimmelmann.net/courses/internet/Internet2010SReader3.pdf>.
26 Grimmelmann, James. “Saving Facebook.” Iowa Law Review 94 (2009), 1197. JSTOR. Web.