Gigya Certification Aims To Allay Social Login Fears

SocialPrivacy Certification holds organizations accountable for data, privacy protection.

Debra Donston-Miller

January 7, 2013

3 Min Read
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Social business infrastructure provider Gigya's new SocialPrivacy Certification program is designed to provide peace of mind to users of social login services by holding organizations displaying the certificate accountable for doing -- and not doing -- specific things.

Social login services, including Gigya's own Social Login, enable users to register for sites and services using a preferred social network account, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter. But while such services make authentication relatively quick and easy, not all users are comfortable using them.

Gigya conducted a survey of 2,600 people and found that 53% have logged in to a website or mobile application using social login. It was the 47% who had not that Gigya wanted to reach, according to company CEO Patrick Salyer.

[ What do you expect to see in social business this year? Read 5 Social Business Predictions For 2013. ]

Survey respondents who had used social login services cited username/password fatigue, streamlined registration and social syndication as the three top benefits. Survey respondents who had not used social login services cited data transfer, social posting concerns and uncertainly of data usage as the top three factors for skipping a social login option when signing in to a website or mobile application. Respondents were concerned that if they used social login services, businesses would then sell their social data, their social network contacts would be spammed or businesses would post to their social networks without permission.

"They were concerned in terms of what is happening when they log in socially," Salyer told The BrainYard. "There was concern that their social login data would be sold or that they or their friends would be spammed."

To help allay those fears, Gigya formed a privacy advisory board and began working with the Future of Privacy Forum, ConnectSafely and Stanford University. "We thought there was an opportunity to form a certification program where an online business would guarantee consumers that social login data would be handled in very specific ways," said Salyer.

To become certified and to maintain the Gigya certification, organizations must adhere to four key principles:

1. They will not sell social data.

2. They will not post to social feeds without explicit permissions.

3. They will not engage in social data-based email marketing campaigns without user permissions.

4. They will not send private messages to users' friends without permission.

A privacy team put together by Gigya performs an audit on organizations seeking to become certified and will conduct ongoing audits to ensure that companies are abiding by the certification's standards. Organizations that check out and that pay about $1,500 per month can display the Gigya SocialPrivacy Certification seal. Participating organizations include Martha Stewart Omnimedia and Lush Cosmetics. Salyer said companies that display the seal have seen a significant increase in social login.

He added that most companies seeking the SocialPrivacy Certification seal already meet the program's requirements, but the certification provides users with a better understanding of what participating organizations will and won't do with their social data.

"The vast majority of these requirements are things that businesses have already been doing, but they're making a public commitment," said Salyer. "We consider this a virtual handshake. It's a win for businesses and a win for users."

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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