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A leading specialist on social networks writes a shocking exposé of the widespread misuse of our personal online data and creates a Constitution for the web to protect us.
Social networks are the defining cultural movement of our time. Over a half a billion people are on Facebook alone. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest nation in the world. But while that nation appears to be a comforting small town in which we can share photos of friends and quaint bits of trivia about our lives, it is actually a lawless battle zone—a frontier with all the hidden and unpredictable dangers of any previously unexplored place.
Social networks offer freedom. An ordinary individual can be a reporter, alerting the world to breaking news of a natural disaster or a political crisis. A layperson can be a scientist, participating in a crowd-sourced research project. Or an investigator, helping cops solve a crime.
But as we work and chat and date (and sometimes even have sex) over the web, traditional rights may be slipping away. Colleges and employers routinely reject applicants because of information found on social networks. Cops use photos from people’s profiles to charge them with crimes—or argue for harsher sentences. Robbers use postings about vacations to figure out when to break into homes. At one school, officials used cameras on students’ laptops to spy on them in their bedrooms.
The same power of information that can topple governments can also topple a person’s career, marriage, or future. What Andrews proposes is a Constitution for the web, to extend our rights to this wild new frontier. This vitally important book will generate a storm of attention.