CBOs gather for briefing on social media privacy

Published: Saturday, January 05, 2013

Consumer Action invited Bay Area representatives from our network of community-based organizations to join us in Oakland on Dec. 13 for a briefing on privacy and control for social media users.

Nearly 30 participants gathered for the four-hour event, which included presentations from Consumer Action privacy expert Michelle De Mooy and Facebook’s Krista Kobeski.

De Mooy spent the first half of the day covering why privacy matters, how to decide what to share and what not to share, what social media users do and don’t have control over, how to find and use social network privacy controls, what kind of personal information is collected and how it’s used, and tips for staying safe when online or using mobile “apps.”

The presentation was broken up by a group exercise that tasked participants with identifying whether a social media user should “Share,” “Don’t share” or “Share with reservations” a given “post,” or message. There was consensus that you shouldn’t share “Calling in sick today was the best idea ever—saw a great movie and now I’m hangin’ at the beach!” Other sample posts elicited more discussion.

After lunch, Facebook presented its Pages feature, which enables businesses and organizations, including the non-profits that attended the briefing, to take advantage of social networking to spread their message, attract supporters and initiate a dialogue. The presentation segued into how users can maintain their desired level of privacy while taking advantage of social media. Participants were clearly intrigued by the potential in social media—Facebook answered questions until time ran out.

The briefing was the result of discussions that began in August, when De Mooy met with Facebook’s manager of privacy and public policy to explore ways that Consumer Action could enhance the social media giant’s efforts to educate current and prospective users on privacy and control. Consumer Action has helped dozens of other companies, including AT&T, Microsoft and Visa, reach a large and diverse population (including non-English-speaking consumers and those who may currently avoid social media out of privacy or safety concerns) at the community level and get direct feedback from organizations about what they and their clients need most.

The Oakland briefing was conducted to guage overall interest in the topic, understand current perceptions and concerns around social media privacy, and identify the types of information and tools that grassroots educators and their clients want.

 

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