Social Networkers Reckless with Private Data

      June 01, 2011 08:50

      There is no need to give out much personal information on social network services sites, but the more information people make available to others and the more sensational the messages, the more attention they can get. This tempts many users of Facebook and Twitter to put out information that is open to abuse, from phone numbers and pictures to the high school they attended.

      The Korea Internet and Security Agency in January carried out an experiment using 200 randomly selected Twitter IDs to find out how much personal information can be collected just using ID, and was able to discover the real name of 176 out of 200 selected users, or 88 percent. In 168 cases it was easy to find out what the user looked like from the photo. Eighty-three percent gave their current location and 52 percent identified family members.

      Since the information spreads very quickly, it lays people open to unconfirmed rumors and slander, and a message once posted can be endlessly recopied and posted on other sites.

      Under current law, such abuse is impossible to punish. In no case has spreading groundless rumors been punished under libel laws, and the dominant opinion is that collecting personal information made available on social networking sites is not a criminal act.

      Kim Hwan, an attorney at law firm Sanho, said, "If the personal information was collected online without resorting to illegal means like hacking, and if the rumors aren't blatantly slanderous, then they can be viewed within the frame of freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution."

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