Is privacy possible in a social network? And, if so, which social-network service does it the best? We put Facebook and LinkedIn head-to-head.
When it comes to the policies of these two social networks, Facebook has an edge for its format and readability.
The content of both policies get a B grade from me, however.
When you hit the Privacy link in the Facebook footer, you land on an attractively designed tutorial page.
This "guide to privacy on Facebook" very clearly explains the concept of sharing profile information at three levels - friends, friends of friends, and everyone - and describes the rationale behind its recommended privacy settings.
This variance in length and readability makes sense, though, because the LinkedIn audience is generally older and more educated.
To their credit, both policies provide an above-average level of detail of the data they collect and how they use and disclose it.
That said, they're both weak in three areas: data security, data access and email retention.
On security, neither provides any level of detail behind the standard commitment to use SSL on payment pages and also use network firewalls.
On data access, both fall short of offering to provide users a full account of the data stored and disclosed about them.
On email retention, I've always wondered whether the messages I send via Facebook and the InMails I send via LinkedIn are retained indefinitely, but neither policy sheds light on this question.
One Facebook friend of mine, a privacy attorney, has forsworn sending any messages via LinkedIn until a delete button is added, a feature that LinkedIn reports is being rolled out now.
For its part, the LinkedIn policy makes a bolder statement about third-party disclosure, stating: "We do not sell, rent, or otherwise provide your personal identifiable information to any third parties for marketing purposes".
You can't get much better than that.
Facebook, meanwhile, makes a much clearer commitment to delete user information, stating: "You may deactivate your account on your account settings page or delete your account on this help page" and "Removed and deleted information may persist in backup copies for up to 90 days, but will not be available to others".
All in all, still a draw.
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