Posted by Charlotte Ebbutt, Solicitor
Your social media accounts are free, but what is the cost to you of providing your data?
There have been a lot of stories about the use (and misuse) of our online data in the news lately, from Cambridge Analytica to the unauthorised Black Lives Matter account on Facebook. So in a time when we are all being encouraged to be more aware of how organisations are using our data, what things should you think about when uploading content to your own social media accounts?
Afterall, have you ever considered that the things you may do daily, could be compromising your own privacy?
The impact of your social media posts on life opportunities
People are not only waking up to the value of their social media data and its use by third parties but also to the impact of hasty or inappropriate posts on their day to day lives. Your social media may be checked by potential employers and data collected from your social media accounts about your lifestyle that could result in the refusal of credit or other services behind the scenes. Phil Neville’s recent experience, with hasty tweets being exposed at a later date when as coach of the England Women’s Football Team his attitude to women was key, highlights the impact of social media activity on employment and reputation.
The BBC recently did some work with two young job-seekers who both thought they had sufficiently sanitised their social media accounts to pass the scrutiny of a potential employer. Both were dismayed at what potentially inappropriate content a third party was able to find on their accounts and how that content might impact on their employability. It is not just the use of data on your social media accounts by third parties that needs re-examining. Many people would benefit from re-visiting content that they have posted themselves, and asking if they are happy to be represented by it.
What are your rights over information uploaded to Facebook?
There is a common misconception that once you upload content to Facebook you lose ownership of it. That is not the case. In fact, Facebook’s own terms and conditions expressly stipulate that you retain the ownership of any content that you post on your Facebook account. You can control the way in which these images are shared with other Facebook accounts using your privacy and application settings. However, when you sign up to Facebook’s terms and conditions on opening an account you grant them a worldwide licence to use your content, including transferring that licence to third parties. Your Facebook posts might be shared with a media organisation wanting to satisfy the insatiable need for news items for example.
Whilst Facebook maintains that the licence is necessary in order for it to operate as it does, to allow your friends to re-share your content for example, those with Facebook accounts would benefit from considering this licence of their content when posting it.
Signing up to Instagram also grants a worldwide licence to use your content
Instagram is owned by Facebook and the same licence terms apply. It is common practice on Instagram to re-share content whilst crediting the content’s owner. If other account holders re-use your content without crediting you then you can report those activities to Instagram for potential copyright abuse.
Regulatory help is on its way
The Information Commissioner, the regulator for all things data, has this week launched a campaign entitled “Your Data Matters”. The campaign is designed to build individuals’ trust and confidence in how their data is used. By emphasising the Information Commissioner’s drive to safeguard people’s data and raising awareness of the avenues available to those affected by the loss or misuse of their data it is to be hoped that confidence will be restored and that people will be able to give truly informed consent to the use of their data. The new data protection legislation which will come into force at the end of May this year will ensure that there is a requirement for organisations to provide the information that the data subject needs to make informed choices. If you want to find out more you can always take our data protection quiz, to see how up to scratch your knowledge is.
So what does this mean?
The widespread harvesting and analysis of our data, mainly carried out by large specialist organisations and arising from simple acts such as the downloading of an app has caught many people by surprise.
By reading the more detailed information that you will soon be provided with, taking the time to set secure passwords for your online activities and thinking about the impact of your social media posts you can do a great deal to safeguard your data, your life opportunities and your reputation.
At Royds Withy King, we have a specialist data team who are on hand to assist with any of your data queries. We can also offer everything from staff training to a retainer to help your business get GDPR ready. For more information, access our GDPR hub.