Social media platforms started as a fun way to connect with friends and family. Since then, they have become a science fiction nightmare due to their capacity to gather and misuse the data on their users.
It is not irrational for social media providers to seek to capitalize on their data when they provide the platforms for free. Indeed, their business model is to sell data to third parties for marketing and other purposes. Yet, users should be able to expect that their data is not used to hurt them or is not sent to disreputable companies. Indeed, fewer people would use social media if the price were incurring a mood disorder or being manipulated to vote in a particular way.
While technology continues to push the boundaries of law as it evolves, effective legal protection has not evolved with it. As evidenced by recent events, the field of privacy has failed social media users. Meanwhile, the field of cybersecurity arose to address cybercrime, but many of the questionable uses of social media data were legal. The legality of these problematic actions has received criticism and prompted calls for change.
There are several choices lawmakers and policymakers have when it comes to the protection of social media data from exploitation by social media companies. Among these are fiduciary duties in corporate and trust law, as well as the duty of care in tort law. However, can these centuries-old legal frameworks grasp the risks and consequences of the improper use of big data generated by social media, or must they be tweaked?
This Essay examines the benefits and drawbacks of fiduciary duties and the duty of care frameworks in the context of social media. Any framework must hold data holders responsible for data breaches while fitting their business model.
Protecting Users of Social Media,
Notre Dame L. Rev. Online
Available at: https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndlr_online/vol94/iss3/2