With 750 million members, Facebook has the “power and reach of a nation,” the third largest in the world. Andrews, legal scholar and expert on social media, examines the concept of social network as a nation in need of a constitution that protects the rights of its citizens. Law-enforcement agencies and repressive regimes alike are using information from Facebook pages to go after perceived wrongdoers. Similarly, school administrators and employers search Facebook for information. With the blurring of lines between government and social networks, Facebook and other social media are used to publicize what used to be private information on citizens that they have willingly or inadvertently made public. Andrews explores growing talk of a social-network constitution, not to establish hard-and-fast rules but to offer a firm expression of fundamental values to foster development of technology that protects privacy. She includes a proposed constitution that ensures the right to connect, to free speech and expression, and to privacy of place and information. A fascinating look at social media and a valuable resource for Internet users to protect personal data. --Vanessa Bush
"Unnerving narrative about the misuse of personal online information—without our knowledge—to track, judge and harm us in innumerable aspects of our lives.
See all Editorial Reviews
"Social-network executives often dismiss online privacy concerns: 'You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it,' said Sun Microsystems’ Scott McNealy. But the constitutional freedoms of millions of people posting personal data on Facebook and other networks are violated routinely, and the law has not kept up with the new technology, writes lawyer Andrews (Institute for Science, Law and Technology/Illinois Institute of Technology; Immunity, 2008, etc.). Noting that social networks make their profits on users’ data, she describes the multibillion-dollar industry of data aggregators who mine online data for the advertising industry, often 'weblining' people, denying them certain opportunities due to observations about their digital selves. Most users have no idea how much information is being collected about them: 'People have a misplaced trust that what they post is private.' The results can be devastating: A Georgia teacher posted a photo showing her drinking a glass of Guinness at an Irish brewery, and she was forced to resign after the photo was e-mailed anonymously to her school superintendent. After seeing a mother’s MySpace page showing her posing provocatively in lingerie, a judge awarded custody of her young children to her husband. 'Virtually every interaction a person has in the offline world can be tainted by social network information,' writes the author, who proposes creating a 'Social Network Constitution' to govern our lives online. Her governing principles would protect against police searches of social networks without probable cause, require social networks to post conspicuous Miranda-like privacy warnings and set rules for the use or collecting of user information.
"Authoritative, important reading for policymakers and an unnerving reminder that anything you post can and will be used against you."