lockIt might shock you to know that defining your friends and relatives in the social media website of your choice is not enough protection to block access to outsiders to your content.

An experiment by the russian photographer Egor Tsvetkov has destroyed the illusion of isolation on the website VKontakte. His service, FindFace, allows to search within the image database of the social network. So far, the results with regular photos reaches the 70% of accuracy, according to Tsvetkov himself.

While this, in itself, it’s not much of a revelation – nowadays we are capable of very precise results when it comes to computation algorithms – this essay reveals a visage of one unnerving future. Your personal content gives away very personal information about your customs, routines and life habits. A malicious stalker can use this findings for his own benefit. Companies could use this knowledge to feed their marketing departments for aggressive campaigns.

Usually, Social Media companies take their clients’ data very seriously. Defining your privacy filters on your profile will easily block most external entries to your photos and entries. However, unaware of the risks that the malevolent use of your personal information, most people prefer to share their updates with the whole internet, seeing this as a trade-off for more visibility.

In any case, always use the golden rules when it comes to information sharing:

  • Never include your contact data, or banking information, nor anything related.
  • Don’t post on behalf of someone else. Don’t share their schedules, or their plans.
  • Avoid including your phone number, or home address.
  • Be mindful of who is tagged on your photographs. Asking for permission before uploading them somewhere is good manners, and common sense.

You can take a look at Egor Tsvetkov’s experiment, named “Your Face is Big Data”, at this link.

The blurry edges of privacy

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