On September 5, 2007, social media users, enthusiasts and site owners, Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington authored “A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web.The goal was that in this age of incredible openness, access and sharing of personal information through various Web sites, that users of social media should have rights and that these rights should be presented by site owners. The underlying principal is that users should own their information not the sites.

They are not the only one’s who have developed Bill of Rights and there are probably many more currently being developed – but is a document like this necessary?

Each individual has the ability to make the decision to engage in as many or as few forms of social media. No one is required to post their job history on LinkedIn. It isn’t a requirement to have a Facebook site. It is a right and a personal decision. It is with this personal decision that individuals then make their decision what they will make available. With this in mind – I do not think it is necessary for a universal social media bill of rights for users.

That being said, I think it is good business for each individual site to consider what their privacy settings will be, what they themselves want to “own,” to consider their users in this decision making process and of course to communicate this clearly to its users. Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, YouTube and most other sites have “Terms of Use” and “Privacy Policy” pages clearly outlining what users can expect from the site and what each site expects from its users. It is up to the user to read these closely (and not just check the box saying they read it) and decide if they “agree.” It is the price of engaging in a social media world.

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