Indeed, the personal tidbits we broadcast on social media are some of the most valuable commodities on the Web, since they give advertisers direct insight on how people behave and what they buy. For that reason, user profile information is like the pearl inside the oyster of a social networking site, whether it's successful or not.
"Say one social networking site takes over another. In the advertising world, such purchases are often for the data that these companies contain," said Craig Wills, a computer science professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and online privacy expert. "Thus, rather than a social networking site going away, I suspect they would get bought by another social networking site for the data."
WIDE ANGLE: Online Social Networking
Rolling over user profiles, as in Friendster's case, can also help jumpstart a new or rebranded network.
"The new site might even use the data to automatically create accounts for users on the site as means to attract these users to the new site," Wills told Discovery News.
These examples of profile "afterlife" underscore the importance of users paying attention to privacy policies and what they're agreeing to when signing up for social media accounts.
"Once uploaded to the Internet, your data never dies – it just reincarnates in other forms," Acquisti from Carnegie Mellon told Discovery News.
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