There’s precious little left in our lives that can truly be considered as private. With social networks like Facebook and Twitter, we’re happily sharing what we’re doing with the world faster than others can catch up.
But in the race to plaster our lives across the Internet, does that give companies permission to use our likeness or information as and when they want to?
Take a recent example with Twitter. The company proudly published a blog post talking about how awesome it was to get people to tweet about how great certain TV ads were. Except that a mock-up image in the article featured tweets from actual users of Twitter, one of which wasn’t too pleased that Twitter was using his image without permission. Neil Gottlieb tweeted “Like to know how @twitter decided to use my image and fake posting to promote their TV Commercial-Tweet integration. @cnn @NBCPhiladelphia“. Twitter later apologized, saying “Hey @Neil_Gottlieb- so sorry about the confusion earlier today. We’re fixing the problem now.” The company then promptly replaced the image with other images and posted an apology at the top of the blog post (see screenshots below for before and after images)
While Twitter was swift to correct the post, it once again highlights the need for users to be cautious with how social networks use their data. LinkedIn for example had an option where users’ names and photos were used in “Social Ads” automatically, unless users drilled through their security settings and opted out. These caused a serious backlash and the company reconsidered the initiative rather abruptly, choosing instead to go for a simple advert that didn’t display user information.
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