December 24, 2010 | By Kurt Opsahl

2010 Trend Watch Update: Social Networking Privacy

At the beginning of this year EFF identified a dozen important trends in law, technology and business that we thought would play a significant role in shaping digital rights in 2010, with a promise to revisit our predictions at the end of the year. Now, as 2010 comes to a close, we're going through each of our predictions one by one to see how accurate we were in our trend-spotting. Today, we're looking back on Trend #9, social networking privacy, where we predicted the following:

Social Networking Privacy: Something's Got To Give
For some, social networking sites are the Internet. Facebook now has
over 350 million accounts — roughly the same as the total number of
Internet users worldwide a decade ago. That means that the bad guys
who were exploiting security weaknesses in the wider Net in the last
decade will now turn in force on the bigger networking sites. And by
bad guys, we mean everyone from criminals, to unethical data-mining
companies, to ISPs who can't resist snooping on that remunerative
personal data passing down their pipes, to governments seeking new
ways to track their citizens.

As predicted, 2010 provided plenty of social network privacy issues. In the spring, Facebook caused controversy with Instant Personalization and Connections, leading EFF to set forth a Bill of Privacy Rights. In response, Facebook made some improvements and new controls.

It wasn't all Facebook; Yahoo also got involved in a social networking privacy controversy, and EFF's FOIA work showed the government's social networking efforts. More recently, Firesheep highlighted the dangers of logging in to social networks without SSL, while HTTPS Everywhere provided a means to help.

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