Today a site called Peeked Interest (www.peekedinterest.com) was brought to my attention, and I was asked what I thought about it as an Internet and Social Media safety advocate/expert. Being unaware of this specific Social Network, I decided to do my research first.
I learned from the two creators (a current University of British Columbia student and a University of Victoria graduate), that the genesis of Peeked Interest came about in 2011, as a result of friends talking about how cool it would be to have a site where you could post “candid”, and at times covert photographs on-line of people that you would like to meet person-to-person, in the hopes that the person in the picture would then connect with you at a later date once they saw (or learned) that their picture had been posted by you on-line at Peeked Interest. Here’s a CBC radio interview with one of the creators http://www.cbc.ca/earlyedition/ (scroll down and look for the March 15th “Peeked Interest clip).
- “You will ensure all of your posted photographs were taken in a PUBLIC place and the subject of the photo did NOT have a reasonable expectation of personal privacy.” What is their definition of a “Public Place”, because this can differ from person to person ?
- “You will ensure that, to the best your abilities, the subject of your photograph appears to be 18 years of age or older.” Wow....... given todays world, it is becoming more and more difficult to differentiate between a 16yr old and an 18yr old.
- “As noted in Section (5) some of the Peeked Interest Service may be supported by advertising revenue. You hereby agree that Peeked Interest may place such advertising and promotions within the Service, or in conjunction with your Content. The manner, mode and extent of such advertising and promotions are subject to change without specific notice to you.” Although in the above noted CBC clip one of the founders stated that they don’t get paid presently, this paragraph makes it possible that once their data base is large enough, they "could" sell your information (like your IP), and maybe even more personal information (or access to you), to third party vendors who will then target you with advertisements in an attempt to sell you their goods.
- “Peeked Interest may set and access cookies on your computer. Peeked Interest also allows other companies which display advertisements to set and access cookies on your computer, but are pursuant to their own privacy policies, not that of Peeked Interest.” This paragraph creates a possible revenue making bonanza for Peeked Interest as companies will pay big money to know your on-line behaviors, and this is one of the functions of “cookies”
- “Once you have registered for the Peeked Interest service, we may also track your IP address.” Why would you want to track my IP address is my question ?
It is clear that the targeted demographic for this specific Social Media site are college and university students. This makes total sense to me for a couple of reasons:
- this demographic is digitally connected, and very likely to be attracted to a concept such as this. and,
- what better demographic to attract vendors to when it comes to advertising, thus a huge revenue stream can be created for the site owners by possibly selling your information (or access to you) to third party vendors.
Although Peeked Interest, from a first impression standpoint, is somewhat creepy (what about taking pictures of people you don’t know, and posting them into a Social Network in the hopes that the person in the picture will see themselves and then will want to meet you isn’t creepy), there are some other challenges, from a safety standpoint, that should be pretty obvious so I will not belabor them here.
Although personal safety is an important issue, so are all the challenges surrounding the privacy and security of our “personal” information (which includes our IP address) and who will have access to said information, or access to you, and for what purpose. Too often this real concern is overlooked, or not even really considered, by young adults. To quote David Lyons from Newsweek magazine about another very popular Social Network:
“The Most important thing to understand about Facebook is that you are not Facebook’s Customer, you are its inventory. You are the product Facebook is selling. Facebook’s real customer are advertisers. You, as a Facebook member, are useful only because you can be packaged up and sold to advertisers. The more Information Facebook can get from you, the more you are worth.”
Like it or not, our privacy is under attack and the traditional barriers that have been in place to protect our privacy are slowly being eroded, sometimes knowingly, but often unknowingly, in this new digital age. We are learning that “some” social networks, search engines and even Internet Service providers are now creating “digital dossiers” on each and everyone of us who use their services via the use of “cookies” and the tracking of our IP’s. These digital dossiers are very attractive to advertisers, who are willing to pay big bucks to obtain such information for their financial benefit.
For me there are two concerns that we should weigh before joining any Soical Networking site:
- Personal Safety, and
- The safety and security of our private information given that a "free" Social Networking site will have to make money somehow to keep the site operational.
I love and use Social Networking, BUT with its use comes "sometimes" unintended consequences if not fully informed. Let’s hope that college and university students will read this posting, so that they can make an “educated” and "informed" decision before joining Peeked Interest or any Social Network. Unfortunately most will not, and even those who do, will still join believing that I am over reacting to the "possible" and "foreseeable" safety and privacy concerns mentioned in this posting..........
The Digital Sheepdog