Social Logins – Convenience or Concern?

The ability to sign-up with a social login is everywhere today. To define a social login, it’s the ability to use a social media account you already have in order to sign up for another service. It’s also called Social sign-in and also referred to as a Single sign-in.

Most of us think that it’s great to be able to set up a new account using our existing Facebook or Twitter credentials. Yes, it is a great time-saver and one less password to have to remember, but have you ever wondered if there’s anything else going on? Indeed, there is. Hint: it has to do with the ‘P’ word – privacy.


social sign in
Here’s the Buffer sign-up with options to use Twitter or Facebook credentials

This article from lists many examples of social logins. They write the article from the standpoint of the brand/company wanting to use social logins, not from the view of the individual and their privacy. For a business, getting people to use social logins can give them a treasure trove of information from the user. Usually a privacy blurb is presented, but not many will read them, they just click OK and get signed in.

The fact is, whenever you utilize a social sign-in, any public information you’ve filled out is now available to them. For example, Groupon has a social sign-in on their site. So if you set up an account using your Facebook credentials and you have filled out your profile pretty completely, they will know your birthday, where you live, what you’ve liked, possibly access to your friends and anything else that might be in your profile. Then as you keep signing in, any new information you’ve added to Facebook can and will be scraped from your account by them.

I had always suspected this and it was confirmed by some people I know in our Oklahoma City WordPress meetup group. One member has had experience with the company Gigya (they provide social networking technologies for websites) and so he was pretty knowledgeable about it. This blog article from Gigya highlights how companies can get the most out of social sign-ins.

When my suspicions were confirmed, I also went on-line for more confirmation. It’s amazing the lack of information in this area, but I did find this from Parachute Digital Marketing that points out the concerns of using social logins for non-social websites (such as e-commerce businesses).

Personal experience – I was going to enter a Twitter contest and clicked the link and was willing to ‘give-up’ an e-mail address, however, they wanted people to enter this contest using Facebook credentials. When I clicked on the privacy link, they said if I signed up they’d have access to all my friends and my timeline in addition to my information. No thanks. I tweeted this company back to express my disappointment and they said it was a Facebook requirement. The contest was running on Facebook, but I think there are ways they could have structured the contest to not allow all this mining of data. So I declined the contest.

There is definitely a demographic who does not mind at all the mining of their social media data – in fact, they prefer it because they will get ads and offers targeted to their likes.

How about you? Now that you know this, will it change your behavior and will you set up individual accounts instead of using social logins? Please leave a comment below.

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