Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, has been hauled over the coals following a privacy breach where detailed information of their users on the social network was shared with third-parties. This information was used to target users for both political and marketing reasons. This has resulted in a public outcry and concerns about how safe and private your information on social network sites really is.

Ourhood believes that neighbours need to have trust amongst one another, and we don’t want to compromise your trust by using your data in an undermining way. We want to be completely transparent about how we use the data so we can keep your trust.

What you need to know

Everyone is talking about API’s but what are API’s? They are notifications that pop-up on sites when you want to, for example, do a quiz or play a game on Facebook. In order to do the quiz, you have to allow Facebook to share your information with the website that contains the quiz.

API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. It is where two or more applications can communicate with each other. They can also share data amongst the programmes. According to the dictionary; “it is a set of functions and procedures that allow the creation of applications, which access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other services.”

So basically, applications work together to combine information to customise products and content to specific users. The problem is that some platforms, especially social media platforms, allow apps to be created using social media API’s, so third-parties can access information from the social media platform.

This is a problem because it means that companies can build a detailed profile of users using API’s and this has been taken advantage of.

Facebook

Facebook has been scrutinised with regards to their use of data, but they have been making some changes. These changes might result in users having to pay a fee if they don’t want their data shared.

To summarise, Facebook had been allowing third-parties to access detailed and unnecessary information about users and all their friends. Third-parties could access information, such as private chats, guest lists and comments for groups, events and pages, including closed group and private events. The changes being made are that they will become stricter with third-parties and share less data. For example, usernames will be taken off posts for third-parties. You can find a more detailed account of the changes at the Facebook newsroom.

The problem Facebook encountered was that they had to come up with a way to generate money. They used direct marketing as a way to do so. This means that they have to compromise their data by giving it to third-parties in order to generate personalised marketing.

South Africa

As we are a South African-based company, we have to abide by different rules and regulations from the American based companies. This act is called PoPI. Some of these rules and regulations regarding data are that users must consent to when and how they share personal information, as well as the type and extent of information they share, and it has to be collected for a valid reason. There needs to be a transparency in how data is used and notified if it is compromised in any way, and users must be allowed to remove and/or destroy data if they choose.

Ourhood

Ourhood prides ourselves on providing a private and secure platform to connect with neighbours. Users must keep in mind that Ourhood does collect Data from our users.

Sign-Up

First, provide us with your email address and neighbourhood. This information is used to check if your neighbourhood exists and we record your email address as a prospective user so that we can email users to check if they want to sign-up.

You are then taken through to the sign-up page. This page records your name, address, email address and password. We save these details. The information that is saved can only be seen by Ourhood staff. Your name and surname are by default visible to your neighbours, however, no contact details or where you live is available. Note: You can change your settings to show more or less personal information to other neighbours. Ourhood cannot access your password in any way.

You then need to verify your address by sending a proof thereof. This is checked by a staff member to confirm your name and address. The document is then completely deleted from our system. We do this to ensure the safety of all Ourhood users. If you still don’t feel safe about uploading a proof of address, you are welcome to supply us with your contact number. That way we can phone you and verify your details.

Profile

You can add information about your interests and occupation. This is only available to verified users in your neighbourhood. Ourhood can see this information in a collective group. For example, we can see 87% of users are interested in cycling. This information is only accessible to staff. We use this information to provide more personalised content for our users and this information is only shared with the Ourhood staff and is not shared with any external third-parties. Then, content about the Cape Town Cycle Tour will be posted in that specific neighbourhood, as many members of that neighbourhood are interested in, and enjoy cycling.

The newsfeed is monitored by Ourhood to ensure there is no inappropriate content being posted. However, we don’t have access to any private messages or posts. Direct messages and group messages are private and cannot be seen by anyone that is not part of the chat or group.

Users’ Privacy

A user’s address and email address are hidden from the users in your neighbourhood at all times. You can choose to share this information with your neighbours, if you are comfortable with this, by customising your privacy setting in the Settings tab in the top-right corner. This means that only verified users in your hood can see this information.

Local Deals

Although OurHood does have ads in Local Deals, we do not share your information with third-party advertisers. Our ads will always be non-intrusive, relevant and beneficial to you and your community. They are based on which neighbourhood you are apart of. This means that third-parties cannot access any information about users because the ads are for everyone in your neighbourhood and are not based on information, such as your interests or your job.

Income

Where most social media companies generate income through selling user data, Ourhood generates income through investors and selling ad space in our local deals section. This ensures that your data is safe with us.

Investors

When we have a new investor, we do have to provide some data about users to show that the Ourhood is worth investing in. We only share with them the number of users in different neighbourhoods. We do not share any personal information about any users.

Ourhood’s main vision is creating a safe and secure network for users. If you feel like we are using your data in an undermining way, or have any feedback about how we use our data, good or bad, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear your opinion and know how we can make Ourhood users feel at ease. You can also check our Privacy Policy if you are unsure about anything.