SOCIAL APPLICATIONS: A PRIVACY CHALLENGE FOR ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORKS

J. Ahmed, Z. A. Shaikh, S. Latif

Abstract


Social  networking  sites  are  one  of  the  most  popular  internet  sites  today. This  is due to  dramatic increase in the  number  of  social networks  users, which  reached  the 600 million  users  on  Facebook  alone  as  of March 2011. With  introduction  of the social networking platforms, third party developers are able to launch their own applications for existing massive user base. These applications can access user’s profile data to operate properly. This  fact  poses serious privacy risks because current social networking platforms don’t provide any mechanism to control disclosure of user’s personal information to social applications and their developers. In this paper, we analyze usage pattern and growth rate of social applications. We present results of a research survey which was conducted at higher education institution. The results clearly demonstrate unawareness of user about privacy implications of using social applications. We also point out inherit flaws in existing social networking platforms. We recognize the need for extension of current social networking APIs so that these provide fine grain access control to the user of online social networks.


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