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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Privacy is overrated at Facebook

Facebook continues its march towards becoming one of the largest repositories of personal information on the planet. The huge user base of the social networking site and the amount of time that many users spend on the site is enough to make marketers salivate.

The problem for the users of Facebook around the world is that this march towards profits and sharing the huge amounts of personal information is eroding the privacy that users once had on the social network. In the early days of Facebook, even the people you were friends with were not shown to those who you didn’t approve.

Today much of the information that was stashed away behind security in the early days is out in the open for anyone to peruse. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reckons that people online today just don’t have the same expectations of privacy online anymore. There are many who disagree with that notion, including a few Senators who are in a potential position to force Facebook to change its data sharing ways with new legislation.

Wired reports that new information has surfaced that claims Zuckerberg just doesn't care about the privacy of Facebook users. The revelation came in the form of a Tweet between the New York Times tech blogger Nick Bilton and an unnamed Facebook employee.

The Tweet read, "Off record chat w/ Facebook employee. Me: How does Zuck feel about privacy? Response: [laughter] He doesn’t believe in it."

Some of the things that Zuckerberg has said and moves that Facebook has made certainly support the claim that Facebook doesn't care much for privacy. The company is on a march towards monetizing the huge amount of traffic it generates and one of the things that has to fall by the wayside to make money is some of the privacy of users. 

Wired reports that one of the ways Facebook user information that is shared with third-party advertisers is being used is to target ads specifically at the user. For instance, when a user goes to the Microsoft site -- which is one of the third-parties that Facebook shares information with -- the user will see ads specifically tailored to software and services they are interested in.

Some new Facebook features are also clearly ways for the social network to learn more about the product likes and dislikes of users. One such feature is the "Like" button that lets sites put a Facebook button on product and service pages that users can click. A click would send the information to Facebook helping to link the user to things that they like and dislike. It’s unclear what the benefit of clicking a like button would be to the user, other than publishing the like to what Facebook calls the "Open Graph."

Facebook is opening a can of worms that marketers and other social networks are sure to follow closely. The introduction of legislation to stop information sharing with third-party sites without the express permission of users of social networks like Facebook may be the only way to turn the tide in the battle against making money and privacy online.

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RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By Solandri on 4/29/2010 4:23:54 PM , Rating: 5
I just use facebook as a way to organise "loose ties", for those people in my life with whom I'm not in regular contact. For me it's basically a nice address book where I can look someone up.

That's just it. Facebook fills a role as gatekeeper in the social fabric of the Web. Say you put some pictures of a family picnic on a website. For whatever reason, you only want family members to view the pictures. So you require each family member to make an account with a password on your website, and once you've approved them they can view your pictures.

Now say your cousin also took some pictures of the event and wants to put his pictures on the web. He sets up a website, and for whatever reason he too decides that only family members should be allowed to view the pictures.

He could do what you did, and require everyone to make an account and password, and approve them. Now imagine this with 100 people who are your friends/family. It's totally impractically to set up an account and password on all 100 of their websites.

But they don't have to do that. You've already gone to the trouble of approving these people and giving them usernames and passwords when you made your website. Just set up an https database lookup where other people's websites can verify the username and password to give people access to their websites. Everyone only needs to make one username and password, only one database needs to store that information, and if people forget their password or wish to change it, they only have to do it in one place.

That is what Facebook is providing - a central database for verification of another person's identity. The social content sharing is secondary, and as in my example above it could actually happen on different websites. Facebook just does it because it encourages more people to use its database.

And therein lies the problem. The whole point of using a central database for identity verification is to maintain privacy. You want only certain people visiting your site and knowing what you post on it. Likewise, when you visit a friend's or family member's site you're authorized to view, the very fact that it's available only to authorized persons means you wish to do so privately without other people snooping at what you're viewing. If Facebook does not respect its users' privacy, it defeats the whole purpose of using Facebook as a central ID database.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By B3an on 4/30/2010 8:41:02 PM , Rating: 2
He could do what you did, and require everyone to make an account and password, and approve them. Now imagine this with 100 people who are your friends/family. It's totally impractically to set up an account and password on all 100 of their websites.

....But if you wanted to do this all you need is one password for all family members. Dont even need a username. You could also have a upload feature on the password protected page so only family members can upload images.

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