Print 28 comment(s) - last by aqaq55.. on Dec 15 at 7:39 AM

New settings open posts and profiles to more users

Social networking is quickly becoming one of the most important and commonly used services online. Millions of users flock to social networks each day to keep in touch and drum up business for companies. One of the largest of the social networks in the world is Facebook.

This week Facebook has announced significant changes to its privacy settings. The crux of the changes will have users opening their profiles up to many more users than they are open to today. The changes in the privacy policy allow more indexing by major search engines like Google and Yahoo to allow the postings and profiles of Facebook users to be placed onto search engines.

The 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 profile.

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."

Facebook's 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.

Schnitt said, "Any suggestion that we're trying to trick them [Facebook users] into something would work against any goal that we have."

The 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 largest 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 October.

Facebook makes money from ads that are shown on its pages to users. The company announced in September that it would be sharing 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 third-party.

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Defaults should be the most private and most secure.
By Bateluer on 12/10/2009 10:51:04 AM , Rating: 5
The 'default' is more open and public than it used to be. You can fine tune it to be more private and give you a greater level of control, but you have to set it yourself.

The default settings should always be the most secure, the most private. Other software has learned this the hard way.

By BBeltrami on 12/10/2009 11:53:43 AM , Rating: 3
Yea, I have to admit I was puzzled that the new default settings were open to "Everyone". I guess we live in an opt-out world.

By Flahrydog on 12/10/2009 12:41:30 PM , Rating: 5
I disagree. Facebook became popular because it was locked down. Initially, only college email addresses could sign-up (at Facebook approved colleges). And your default network was your school. This made it easy to find friends and keep in touch without everyone being able to see your shit.

Now, Google is indexing my page by default...

I immediately change my setting to not allow indexing, but guess what, it was too late. It was already indexed!
Searching Google for my name, city and state returned my Facebook page as result number 1.

This opens the door for another site with better privacy settings to step up, and I hope they do.

By invidious on 12/10/2009 2:17:51 PM , Rating: 3

Facebook made a lot of sense in the small scale. Now that it is trying to push itself into the mainstream realm it has alienated my needs/desires. The point was to supposed to be that you could look up and talk to people that you knew in real life, not to meet random people on the internet.

Thats what all of the other terrible non-exclusive sites are for. For some reason Facebook now wants to be one of those terrible sites. I still remember when I started getting Facebook invites from my friend's parents, sad times.

By carniver on 12/10/2009 1:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, never piss off your users. If FB wasn't so locked down I wouldn't have signed up with them in the first place. When I signed up it was because I wanted to view my friend's pages, but their pages were so locked down that I couldn't view them without myself owning an account they've approved. Now their pages are all open, why would I bother if I were to do it again?

By Reclaimer77 on 12/10/2009 3:17:49 PM , Rating: 2
This whole article is moot because beside each selection was a checkbox marked "keep old settings". So nothing has really changed at all if you chose to keep your old settings.

By LRonaldHubbs on 12/10/2009 3:39:58 PM , Rating: 2
While it is true that "keep old setting" option is there, what people are complaining about is a separate setting that allows search engines to index your public information. This setting is not presented with the others when you log in. Instead it is on by default, and to turn it off you must go to Settings > Privacy Settings > Search > Change Settings > enter password to confirm > uncheck 'Allow Indexing'. This should be unchecked by default and presented to the user rather than active and tucked away.

As some users have said, if google has already indexed your profile then it's too late to disable it because whatever info you had as public is already out there. I disabled indexing on mine as soon as I saw this article and it appears that google had not gotten to my profile yet. Although for me it didn't matter anyway because I already made everything that I could private long ago.

By MatthiasF on 12/10/2009 10:08:35 PM , Rating: 2
You don't get it. They don't care about your privacy, only their bottom line.

If your page gets indexed by Google, it means you're life has just been inserted into Google's heuristics and Facebook can now make more money with targeted advertisements when you use their site.

Facebook isn't providing the service to you because they're happy-go-lucky guys. They have every intention to make as much money from your usage as possible.

By Suntan on 12/11/2009 1:09:30 PM , Rating: 3
But at the same time, if you have stuff you don't want people to see, don't put it on the internet (much less host it on some 3rd party company's servers.) If you ahven't learned by now, shame on you.

Not saying Facebook is right/blameless for doing this, just saying that it really shouldn't be too suprising to anyone.


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That's retarded
By amanojaku on 12/10/2009 10:51:35 AM , Rating: 2
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.
There is no reason this information should be blank to keep it from being seen by people outside of Facebook. Sharing that data amongst friends, or potential friends, makes sense. I know people go on Facebook to reconnect, and those two fields are some of the best ways to filter results. Gender alone can cut it in half. Requiring that this goes public just opens up more people to unwanted contacts, or worse.

RE: That's retarded
By mcnabney on 12/10/2009 11:38:54 AM , Rating: 2
I have found allowing your name, hometown, current town, education, and employers are enough to find someone. And maybe put an actual picture of yourself, and not your dog or kids, on your profile so that people can actually find and identify you.

RE: That's retarded
By amanojaku on 12/10/2009 11:42:03 AM , Rating: 2
current town, education, and employers
I think that's already too much. And if a person hasn't been in contact in a while how would he/she know this info? On the other hand, someone else just learned more about you...

RE: That's retarded
By MScrip on 12/10/2009 5:32:30 PM , Rating: 2
On the other hand, someone else just learned more about you...

True... but they could also learn more about the other 350 million Facebook users too. Why would a stranger seek you out?

I have my Facebook privacy maxed out anyway. But if my Facebook profile shows up when someone searches for me on Google... they probably know me already.

RE: That's retarded
By Camikazi on 12/11/2009 9:58:53 AM , Rating: 2
All stalkers start as strangers :P

By dagamer34 on 12/10/2009 11:15:19 AM , Rating: 5
The original point of Facebook was to connect with friends, not to have your info splayed all over the web. This is clearly a power grab against Twitter, and not about the users at all.

If I wanted my info all over the web, I'd post my username, password, and IP address for everyone to remote desktop in!

RE: PFft
By Hiawa23 on 12/10/2009 4:32:18 PM , Rating: 2
The original point of Facebook was to connect with friends, not to have your info splayed all over the web.

I am sure the idea/point of Facebook has always been $$$$$, by it's creators, so why wouldn't they do this.

Screw facebook and screw google too.
By Leper Messiah on 12/10/2009 1:28:08 PM , Rating: 2
This is another unabashed push by google to secure more data for their ad-targeting data mining scheme. Sad part is, even if you wanted to opt out and remove your profile from facebook, you can't because they don't delete anything. Honestly, the lack of privacy on the internet between social networking sites and google logging everything you search is starting to get disconcerting. I don't say this out of paranoia or a guilty conscience, I say this out principle. Most people on dailytech will be smart enough to limit the amount of personal info that is logged online, but we're a vast minority of internet users, most of which don't know how to keep stuff they don't want everyone to know off the grid.

RE: Screw facebook and screw google too.
By Bateluer on 12/10/2009 2:29:50 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. I'm not a conspiracy theorist or crack pot, 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. The Internet is supposed to be an open place, but that doesn't mean a handful of companies should record every detail of every individual's life.

By Suntan on 12/11/2009 3:47:20 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not a conspiracy theorist or crack pot,

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.

Sorry, but these two thoughts contradict each other.

No. Nobody in general cares if you spend your free time searching for porn, or for PEZ dispensers.

And companies don’t care if the person at the end of the IP address is Sally the mid-40s housewife or Timmy the zit faced teen. They only care that IP address X looks at this or that a lot, so send that IP address a lot of adds for the product that this company makes and maybe someone at that IP address will buy some from that company.


who can sell out the fastest?
By invidious on 12/10/2009 2:09:43 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see Twitter as being in competition with Facebook. The only thing that Twitter does is one of the things that Facebook has been doing long before, Twitter just does that one thing better. I view twitter as a hybrid between isntant messenging and blogging, where as Facebook is a mix between a personal website and a blog.

Maybe this is the kind of perception that Facebook is trying to change because they like Twitter's business model better, but that ship has sailed. This is as pointless as yahoo trying to compete with Google.

Of course now that I have graduated college I barely use facebook and I see no practical reason to ever use Twitter so maybe I am just out of touch with the modern kids. But I do recognize that there is a lot of money to be made off these kids, so more power to those corporations.

And yes, when I say kids I am implying that avidly using Twitter and Facebook is childish.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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