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Don't let ugly SNS genie out of bottle

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SNS has become a pivotal tool in our everyday life. But like cars, television or any other items of significant convenience, it comes with side effects. For example, you may one day wake up to regret comments of passion you wrote in your Facebook account long ago and forgot about. Imagine you accidentally become SNS buddies with your boss, allowing him to access your previous honest comments about him. After the Snowdon case, you can no longer rule out the possibility that some police cyber experts are snooping on your text messages. It won't take more than a look at the recent leaks of Hollywood stars' personal photos in a "cloud accident" to realize our own privacy is at peril as well. Under these circumstances, it is no longer hard to see somebody cutting off their online links to be left alone. Perhaps, we can avoid this extreme situation and enjoy the benefits SNS offers to a fuller extent, if we use some common sense, moderation and kindness. Here are some reminders. — ED.

Respect right to be left alone

By Lee Ji-hye

"Digital laundry" services, or online-content deletion services, are on the rise in Korea, one of the world's most wired countries.

The increasing use of such services in Korea comes amid jitters over data theft and a lack of online privacy.

One such firm is Santacruise Casting Company, a professional deleting business for online data.

The firm helps locate unwanted material about its clients on the Internet, and then issues requests to Web operators that the material be removed. It also combs through clients social media accounts and removes content that could come back and haunt the person.

"Many young people worry that their online footprint could be a handicap for them in their friendships, relationships, marriage and careers," said Kim Ho-jin, a spokesman for Santacruise.

"We delete the content that our customers want to have removed from their social network accounts, so they can control their image."

Kim said that most clients are women who are about to get married, who wish to delete pictures or videos of past relationships.

The company promises to delete content that falls into one of five categories: offensive or condescending choice of words; comments uploaded by the opposite gender; mentioning of previous relationships; expressions of "unconventional thoughts"; and posts that are deemed as "repulsive."

Santacruise also conducts "digital funerals" for the deceased, deleting online records upon the family's request.

The National Statistical Office (NSO) last year included digital launderers on its list of industries with significant growth potential.

Some clients of digital launderers are concerned about data theft.

In 2010, more than 54,000 people had personal information stolen online. Last year, the number tripled to more than 177,000, according to the Korea Internet and Security Agency.


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