Again with the Privacy Issues, Facebook?
Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
Back in February, users argued with Facebook so much over who owns the material they post on the social networking site, the site was forced to amend the privacy settings it had just changed. That change in privacy settings probably didn’t slow down Facebook’s exponential growth, but it left a lot of users with a bad taste in their mouths.
Now, it sounds like we’re having another round of issues with Facebook over privacy. Recently, the site changed its privacy settings again, and asked all users to review them. The site made recommendations on what settings users should utilize, and some are suggesting that if users take those recommendations, their personal information (pictures, videos, status updates, etc.) will be LESS private than before. For an example of some of the reactions from the web, we go to Jason Calacanis, who suggests the company has turned evil:
Facebook proved again this week that they are either the most unethical or clueless internet company in the world. An amazing accomplishment since Facebook is also one of the most promising, and certainly fastest growing, internet companies of all time. Perhaps I’m being hyperbolic (who me?), or maybe they are a little of both, but the fact remains they screw up on important issues almost as if it’s a “best practice” to do so.
More negative reaction, this time from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Although sold as a “privacy” revamp, Facebook’s new changes are obviously intended to get people to open up even more of their Facebook data to the public. The privacy “transition tool” that guides users through the configuration will “recommend” — preselect by default — the setting to share the content they post to Facebook, such as status messages and wall posts, with everyone on the Internet
One suggestion is that Facebook wants more of this material indexed by its own search engine, as well as by Google, which will draw even more users to the already massively colossal social networking site.
I’m not going to begin to guess at Facebook’s motives for this change. I will, however, speak to their execution. It was done very, very poorly. I walked myself the other day through the changes, and made sure everything stayed the way I originally had it set, because I knew that pictures of my kids, vacations, etc. were protected from viewing by everyone except my friends. What Facebook should have done was give a clear explanation of what each user’s current settings meant, and what Facebook’s recommendations would change. They didn’t really do this, or if they did you had to go digging a little for it.
Truly, it seems more people are losing trust in Facebook. The minute that happens, you can expect to see more people doing what Dan Gilmor did. He deleted his account.
Hat tip to Ragan’s PR Daily Newsfeed, which helped me with the research for this post.