Facebook Privacy Problems
Facebook, the most successful social media site ever with over 500 million members, is in a constant battle over members' privacy. It seems the company's business model is based upon invasion of members' privacy. In fact, that's exactly how Facebook got started! Here's what you need to know about Facebook and your personal privacy...
Protecting Your Privacy on Facebook
To create the prototype of Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg hacked into a protected area of Harvard University's computer network to copy student ID photos from nine residential houses' directories. The university quickly shut down the site (called Facemash.com) for copyright violations and invasion of privacy. Harvard considered expelling Zuckerberg but those charges were dropped.
Even today, Zuckerberg maintains that "privacy is no longer a social norm." That's the kind of mentality that is driving Facebook. In other words, "All your personal stuff are belong to us" is Facebook's default mode. If you want to control how the information you post on Facebook is used, you must constantly be on your guard.
One "feature" reveals a member's mobile phone number and physical address to marketers. Facebook tried to introduced this feature a couple of years ago but had to freeze it when members revolted. Now the company is trying to bring it back with supposed safeguards; your phone number and address won't be transmitted to third parties unless you explicitly give consent. But privacy advocates claim that minors, especially, are unable to understand the implications of giving away such sensitive data.
Other Potential Facebook Privacy Leaks
"Tagging" a member in a photo seems innocuous until you understand that all of your friends, and those of the tagger, will be notified and shown the photo in which you are tagged. Do you really want all of your friends (who may include your spouse and employer) to see you in Las Vegas with Trixie and Candy?
Currently, Facebook's privacy settings can limit access to many types of member data to just the member, the members' friends, or allow everyone to view information. There are an estimated 275 settings to be considered on a Facebook profile, far more than most users can keep track of.
Facebook apps are another source of privacy concerns. It has been reported that dozens of apps forward tracking and demographic data about users to third-party advertising and marketing firms, often without the member's knowledge or consent. While this practice violates Facebook's rules for app developers, the company has not booted miscreant apps until members have raised an uproar about them.
The fact is that Facebook makes money by selling its members' personal information: who they are, what they do, what they buy, what they like, and who they associate with. Facebook will always try to maximize the amount of marketable data it collects from members, without regard for their privacy concerns.
If you want as much privacy as possible on Facebook, limit the information you make available. Here are some suggestions:
- Make sure your "friends" are people you personally know. Unfriend any that you're not sure about.
- Don't post comments or photos that you wouldn't want published in your local newspaper.
- Remove your phone number, geographic location and other personal info from your profile. After logging in, click Profile / Edit Profile to make the changes.
- Set all of the many privacy settings to "Friends Only". Click Account / Privacy Settings to control access to your status, photos, posts, and other information.
- Avoid using Facebook apps.
Do you have tips related to Facebook privacy? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Mar 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Facebook Privacy Problems (Posted: 9 Mar 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved