The Maze of Social Platforms: Why Being Social Means Losing Yourself

By on June 11, 2008

I’ve subscribed to quite a handful Web 2.0 sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed, TotSpot, Flickr, Last.fm, YouTube, Digg, and Goodread. With the dizzying array of cool social apps emerging each day, we happily signed up with our personal contents on these social platforms. We are, after all, Runciman’s Social Animals.

Most of social platforms only work for you if you divulge ‘true’ data about yourself. Sites like TotSpot acts as a social networking sites for your kids. It acts as your children’s scrapbook, diary and social networking site. It encourages you to enter information like your child’s Firsts (e.g. when is the first time she claps her hand, smile, etc.). The same applies to LinkedIn, Facebook and many others.

I can’t help but wonder what will happen if these social platforms closed down someday. After spending efforts and time generating the user-generated contents, it is quite natural for one to impose meanings and assign values to the social contents.

However, I find it’s all not all sunny in Land of SocialMe. Some nagging questions, which I’m still seeking satisfactory answers:

  1. Why social networking sites don’t offer us facility to easily back-up the social contents we’ve generated?
  2. Once a social platform ceased to exist, what will happen to all the generated social data? Does the social platform operators have the rights to ‘sell’ the data?
  3. Who is the rightful owners of the contents we’ve generated on social platforms? We’re using the social services for free and in return, we’re surrendering our rights to the contents we’ve generated. Is this worth surrendering our privacy?

Of course, we have the rights not to subscribe to the social platforms. However, these applications are social utility. Being a Web Luddite is not an answer. I’m hoping for a communal regulatory body, which to take the side of the users of social platforms. This can served to placate the repressed fears of many in the Age of Social Web.






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