Fear, loathing and privacy on Facebook

Bipartisan Congressional action on anything — much less social media privacy?

The latest furor over the most recent Facebook changes comes as a House Democrat and Republican are soon to introduce legislation that would regulate what information Internet companies could make public and allow users easier opt-out procedures.

In truth, this bill has been in the works for almost a year, but the timing of making it available for citizen comment as many Facebook users are up in arms over “instant personalization” is interesting, to say the least.

I’m becoming increasingly disturbed by Facebook’s deceptive explanations for what it has been doing, and more than irritated by founder Mark Zuckerberg’s claim that nobody wants privacy any longer. Speak for yourself.

His company is scouring every possible avenue for revenues, and I’ve got no problem with Facebook making money. I don’t post anything there that I want to keep private. The same goes for Twitter, my blogs and other places where I post online. It’s exercising simple common sense.

But I and millions of others signed up for Facebook with the understanding that we could control what information got out on search engines and to the general public.

Now Facebook is taking away those options as it becomes an even more dominant — if not the most dominant — figure on the social media landscape. Under Zuckerberg’s ethos, you ought to believe that you should want to share so much more information, photos, etc. with your friends than you’re already doing. This of course, serves Facebook’s bottom line interests.

My bottom line is this: Facebook has betrayed the original trust it offered to users who signed up under their real names, with closed networks and required confirmation to add friends.

Facebook is a terrific place for me to stay in touch with former colleagues, old friends and family members out of town. As an avid social media participant, I love seeing how individuals consume and share news and other information, and I respect the power and command Facebook has created within one vast, self-contained environment.

That’s why Facebook is banking that so many millions of users simply cannot do without it, and therefore won’t take action to delete their accounts. Even though there are growing reasons to do so.

But while I’m unsure about the wisdom of government intrusion — and where it might go from here — Facebook has crossed a line that doesn’t appear to concern Zuckerberg.

To help cut through the confusion and Facebook’s facile language about privacy issues, I suggest following the updates from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It’s an amazing resource.

So is the Electronic Privacy Information Center, especially, as Chrys Wu reminds us, with this being Privacy Week.

I think I have locked down information from my account that Facebook has no business distributing without my permission, and that I can still control. But there’s no way of knowing for sure.

Or what Facebook will do next.

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4 Comments on “Fear, loathing and privacy on Facebook”


  1. I used to love Facebook, and still do, for all the reasons you mentioned. But it’s becoming increasingly harder to ignore all the privacy violations. FB knows that we’ve built extensive networks that we don’t fancy giving up and it’s taking advantage of that. But in time, if it continues on this path, FB will end up pushing people over the edge.

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    I agree entirely with the remarks already made. When I first opened my Facebook account I was allowed the anonymity of being a ‘Facebook User’. Now, despite my attempts to lock my account, I find information being used in irrelevant and invasive ways and the advertisements that appear at the sidebar indicate a knowledge of me that I find unnerving. I now use my account primarily to link to my blog posts and rarily for anything else.


  3. I agree entirely with the remarks already made. When I first opened my Facebook account I was allowed the anonymity of being a ‘Facebook User’. Now, despite my attempts to lock my account, I find information being used in irrelevant and invasive ways and the advertisements that appear at the sidebar indicate a knowledge of me that I find unnerving. I now use my account primarily to link to my blog posts and rarily for anything else.
    +1


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