Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What happens to your profile when a social networking site shuts down?

Ever wondered where all your personal information goes when a social networking site dies? Well, it is recycled.

Recycling user databases isn't an uncommon practice in the United States, which is still hammering out online privacy standards and laws.

"At least in the U.S., what happens to consumers data after a company shuts down often depends on the company's privacy policy, which in theory is binding, since the U.S. does not have anything comparable to online data retention laws like the EU's so-called privacy directives," Discovery News quoted Alessandro Acquisti, associate professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, as saying.

In other words, what happens to the personal information you leave behind on social networking sites is largely up to the site owners.

Rolling over user profiles can also help jumpstart a new or rebranded network.

"The new site might even use the data to automatically create accounts for users on the site as means to attract these users to the new site," said Craig Wills, a computer science professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and online privacy expert.

These examples of profile "afterlife" underscore the importance of users paying attention to privacy policies and what they're agreeing to when signing up for social media accounts, the report said.

"Once uploaded to the Internet, your data never dies - it just reincarnates in other forms," Acquisti added.
Source: ANI

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