Monday, 3 May 2010

Of Facebook and Privacy

Facebook and privacy are two concepts constantly getting further and further apart. It’s not due to our ever expanding universe, it’s simply a matter of greed on Facebook’s behalf: as Facebook is getting stronger and establishes its dominance in the internet scene it seeks out more opportunities for cash rather than use its position of power to stand for something.
A couple of weeks ago Facebook has announced it would sell away users’ profile information such as activities and interests to third party looking for advertising opportunities. They used the same opportunity to announce they’ll let third party applications hold on to private Facebook user information for as long as they want, instead of limiting them to one day as before. That’s just the short end of Facebook’s deteriorating standards; read here for the thorough historical perspective.
My reaction? I deleted all my the personal info I did not want to share for someone’s money making behalf off Facebook. Same goes for anything I put in there from now on. Indeed, everything in Facebook should be regarded as very public domain, out there only so that a third party can make a buck out of it; it has nothing to do with you or your friends.

Moving forward, here’s the latest Facebook privacy catch I became aware of. Not because Facebook went public about it but rather through an alert from a friend (thanks, Sarah!):
There is a new privacy setting called "Instant Personalization" which shares data with non-Facebook websites and is automatically set to "Allow." Go to Account -> Privacy Settings -> Applications & Websites -> Instant Personalization and UN-CHECK "Allow". Tell your friends about it, too, because as long as they allow it you’re still exposed.
You can read more about this particular affair here, but for now let us conclude with the inevitable conclusion: Facebook sucks.

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