Library: Online Privacy

No it does not really exist. Following up on yesterday’s post, I found this article At Rapleaf, your personals are public, which is worth reading for more than the just the quotes I am following the quote I am highlighting.

Apart from the unusual TrustFuse business, Rapleaf is among a new generation of people search engines that take advantage of the troves of public data on the Net–much of which consumers happily post for public perusal on social-networking sites and personal blogs. The search engines trace a person’s digital tracks across these social networks, blogs, photo collections, news and e-commerce sites, to create a composite profile.

There doesn’t appear to be anything illegal about what these companies are doing. No one’s sifting through garbage cans or peeking through windows. They’ve merely found a clever way to aggregate the heaps of personal information that can be found on the Internet. Indeed, in an age where Web sites offer to “pretext” or steal phone records and do complicated records checks for a modest fee, what Rapleaf and sites like it are doing seems modest.

And a follow-up to that article is People search engine Rapleaf revises privacy policy:

Despite the swift changes, privacy experts still say Rapleaf may be breaching the privacy of people using social networks like and Facebook, among the other social networks to which it links. Rapleaf lets you retrieve the name, age and social-network affiliations of anyone, as long as you have his or her e-mail address. But what the company does not disclose are the details on how it obtains people’s ties to social networks through their e-mail addresses–a nifty feat considering social networks typically don’t publish members’ e-mail addresses.

Facebook is moving to public search listings “so that people can see which of their friends are on Facebook more easily.” Or to entice more to sign up, which builds traffic, which increase revenue. When Rapleaf started it was supposed to be an open reputation system, but now it seems to be moving the same way as Facebook, motivated by money.

As a librarian who embraces technology and has watched other librarians run with the social networking as a means to go where the patrons/students are and help parents understand what it all means, this is a big deal. We, more likely our children, are living their lives online and littering the with their personal information.

As a glass half-full kind of gal, at least if you want more info on your next date you have some additional tools to search by!

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