Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Cocktails the Morning After

Slawomir Gorniak's title of Security at the Cocktail Party will probably be a bad reminder for many of the delegates who were at the conference dinner last night :-) His focus on social networking as an identity management system is an interesting topic for a conference where engaging with the user has been raised as a key issue through all the presentations.

He highlights that Social Networks can create great business benefits through increasing interactivity. Those twittering throughout the conference would agree on this point I think, and I have been happy to make new contacts with several key publishers through tweets.

Social Networking also lets you know your user - there is lots of information about users available but issues of personal data protection need to be considered. Controls for protecting information are important.

At the moment, social networking is proving to be a bad identity management system in lots of ways - users aren't good at thinking about the consequences, such as answering a quiz saying that you have been arrested in the past and openly publish on Facebook - this will damage your career prospects. It happens in professional networks as well, such as inappropriate disclosure of information on LinkedIn profiles. In a trial, 41% of randomly selected profiles on Facebook were willing to make friends with a plastic frog (fake profile)

The value of social networking is not in the tools, it is in the personal data and the ability to profile people for advertising. The sector is currently estimated to be worth $15 billion. Making the tools more secure is not in the interest of the tool providers, but there is a need to break data monopolies to improve privacy and security. What is the business model? Some of the big players have started to embrace data portability - such as Google Friend which is based on identity and access management standards (however Facebook would not particpate in Google Friend).

We need to create clear corporate policies on social network usage and consider both your personal and professional needs when using the networking sites. This is something we have raised several times over on the JAM blog.

Social Networking is like the Hotel California, you can check out but you can never leave. Nipon Das, New York Times.

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