Social Networking vs. Your Privacy

We've all done it... Click the 'I Agree' button to accept the user agreement without reading it first. But when it comes to some social networking sites, that's something you may regret.

Social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are a great way to build both friendships and business. But they may also rob you of your rights.

“The feature at LinkedIn that I really like is the group feature where you can find groups of like-minded individuals.”
-Robert Rogers, Attorney

Attorney Robert Rogers one of millions of people worldwide who use social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace to do everything from finding new business to finding old friends.

But before you use these sites, it might be a good idea to do something few people probably do… actually read the user agreement. Take LinkedIn’s for example:

“It’s definite that LinkedIn is asking a lot of what their users are putting on the website. As far as that perpetual property interest that they take.”
-Robert Rogers, Attorney

Translation? While these sites can change their policies anytime, when I did this report, LinkedIn owns anything you post there, from your picture to your ideas. And they can do whatever they want with it without paying you. Even after you delete your profile.

Smart Money Magazine recently looked at the user agreements at several of the most popular sites and ranked them in terms of protecting your rights. See Smart Money Magazine’s Rankings. LinkedIn was by far the worst, claiming all intellectual rights in a 7000 word agreement. Twitter claimed none in their 700 word agreement. But since these can change any time…

“If you have a concern about what’s going to be used or how that account is going to be used than it’s in your best interest to read through those terms of use.”
-Robert Rogers, Attorney

Bottom line? Using 21st century networking solutions like Linkedin, Facebook, or any of the other sites is a great idea. But before you start putting up things that you might not want other people to see, do something old fashioned… read the fine print.

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