Uplift Blog

Does privacy exist on social networks?

CaringBridge sites make protecting user privacy a priority.

With all the controversy Facebook has dealt with regarding the use of personal information, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at privacy and social networks.

How Facebook ran Afoul of the Federal Trade Commission

If you haven’t followed the news about Facebook, it ran into some trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC accused Facebook of being unfair and deceptive in their privacy practices by sharing private customer data without the customer’s consent. Facebook settled this claim and agreed to 20 years of privacy audits. Read more about the about the settlement in the New York Times’, “F.T.C. Settles Privacy Issue at Facebook.”

Is lack of privacy our fault?

There is also an interesting article on Slate.com titled, “It’s Not All Facebook’s Fault.” In the article, author Farhad Manjoo makes the case that Facebook and other social networks will never be private and that all of us who use Facebook are largely to blame for this. While it’s easy to understand  that there’s no way Facebook can 100 percent assure that what I post will remain completely private, I think Mr. Manjoo might be letting Facebook off the hook too easily.

While Facebook can’t control if my friend shares a picture I posted and makes it public somewhere online, they certainly can control what information about me they collect and to whom they sell it. They can also control how seriously they take privacy issues. Facebook has violated its customers’ privacy without consent on numerous occasions.

How CaringBridge is Different from Facebook on Privacy

Please understand that this is not intended to be a piece bashing Facebook. I enjoy Facebook! However, this has really crystallized for me what CaringBridge does right regarding privacy and what it means for the people who use it every day to connect with friends and family during a health journey.

As social networks mature, they’re getting plenty of attention from Wall Street. That means even more pressure to generate profits.

When shareholders become the No. 1 concern, privacy and protection of user data sometimes take a back seat. But CaringBridge puts people before profits.

What we do Right

  • We take privacy extremely seriously and think about it in every decision we make when adding new CaringBridge services.
  • We offer different privacy levels on sites, and users can select various levels of control.
  • CaringBridge users can decide whether they want to allow access by anyone, require registration, or limit access to only those on an invite list.
  • We don’t sell or distribute anyone’s data to advertisers or third parties, and never will.
  • We focus on creating a safe, protected experience for everyone who uses CaringBridge.

What do People say About our Commitment to Being a Privacy Social Network?

In our survey, 86 percent responded that CaringBridge does offer a safe, private experience. Compare that to 86 percent of Facebook users who say they want Facebook to be more private.

While CaringBridge can’t guarantee that something posted on a site will remain private (a visitor may decide to share information elsewhere), we can promise that privacy will always be a top priority, and our decisions will be based on protecting your privacy.

When people need a secure, trusted place to share their stories during a health journey, they turn to CaringBridge — a true privacy social network.

Do you know someone right now that could benefit from CaringBridge? Maybe they’re typically not comfortable sharing information about themselves online—especially health updates. But perhaps they’d welcome your help. Learn more about starting a CaringBridge site.

About the Author:

Sona Mehring is the founder and chief ambassador of CaringBridge, the nonprofit organization created in 1997 so people experiencing a health journey can rally their community during a time of need. People invite close family and friends to read about their journey through their own personal CaringBridge website. In return, family and friends can show their love and support by posting encouraging messages. Follow Sona on Twitter – @gogosona.


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