This week Facebook has announced
changes to its privacy settings. The crux of the changes will
have users opening their profiles up to many more users than they are
by major search engines like Google and Yahoo to allow the postings
and profiles of Facebook users to be placed onto search engines.
changes showed up on Wednesday and users were greeted with a page
that sent them to the privacy settings page. The update now requires
the user to show their gender and the city they live in on their
profile page that is publicly viewable. Facebook says that anyone not
wanting to share that data needs to leave those fields blank in their
The new privacy settings will allow the user to send
their posts to all Facebook viewers rather than friend lists and will
allow the posts to be sent across the internet for other users to
find. The push for this from Facebook's prospective is to gain more
traffic to better compete with the growing threat from Twitter where
all posts are indexed and searchable online. Facebook is recommending
that all users elect to have their posts viewable by all users and if
they want to keep their old privacy settings, the user has to choose
to specifically retain the old settings.
Marc Rotenberg from
the Electronic Privacy Information Center said, "Facebook is
nudging the settings toward the 'disclose everything' position.
That's not fair from the privacy perspective."
Barry Schnitt also points out that the new privacy features ask a
user with each post they make who they want to be able to see it
making the new privacy settings less relevant.
"Any suggestion that we're trying to trick them [Facebook users]
into something would work against any goal that we have."
Electronic Frontier Foundation evaluated the privacy changes and
said, "These new 'privacy' changes are clearly intended to push
Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before.
Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control
that users have over some of their personal data."
In October, Facebook was named the
social network in the U.S. pushing former top site MySpace down
into the second spot. Facebook grew 194% compared to its number of
users in September and the site boasted 300 million users in
Facebook makes money from ads that are shown on its
pages to users. The company announced in September that it would be
its ad data with metrics firm Nielsen. The move was to allow data
on the effectiveness of its ads to be provided to advertisers via a
quote: The update now requires the user to show their gender and the city they live in on their profile page that is publicly viewable. Facebook says that anyone not wanting to share that data needs to leave those fields blank in their profile.
quote: current town, education, and employers
quote: On the other hand, someone else just learned more about you...
quote: I'm not a conspiracy theorist or crack pot,
quote: but it gives me pause to think that everything I post, search, think about, purchase, read, etc, is all logged and tracked on the Internet.