Facebook Privacy Fodder

By  |  Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 6:22 pm

In the wake of ongoing controversy (some of it intense) over Facebook’s privacy policies, I’m overdue to return to the topic. (One-sentence summary of my take: Facebook has a history of asking for forgiveness rather than permission, and now says the default for everything is “social”–so the best way to keep things private is to keep them off the service, period.)

For now, here are a couple of worthwhile reads:

The New York Times got Facebook VP for Public Policy Elliot Schrage to respond to a bunch of reader questions. Schrage prefaces his answers with a humble, apologetic overview, but most of the specific answers seem to boil down to two somewhat testy points: 1)  everybody has the option not to use Facebook, and/or 2) the question mischaracterizes Facebook positions or practices. My main takeaway: Facebook needs to do a heck of a better job at explaining what it does with our information, and how we can exert control over it. Schrage’s comments do give me some hope that the company gets that.

Eric Eldon of Inside Facebook has a clarifying, level-headed walkthrough of what Facebook’s recent changes (and a security glitch or two) mean for privacy on the service.  It’s an exceptionally long post, but there’s so much to talk about that it’s hard to do it justice in a few hundred words.

And how are you feeling about Facebook these days?

 
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8 Comments For This Post

  1. John Baxter Says:

    I plan to continue to exercise my option to stay far away from Facebook.

  2. AJ Says:

    Wow, Harry. You weren’t lying about the long post on that second list. A commenter on the website called it (rightfully so) a “whitepaper.”

  3. AJ Says:

    Meant to say second “link”, not “list.”

  4. Drachenstern Says:

    Remarkably enough, I’m going to continue to use Facebook. I’m smart enough to not let people take pictures of me while drinking (cos I don’t get smashed in front of others), I don’t post stuff on there I wouldn’t tell a stranger in an elevator, and I find it a good way to stay in touch with others. I also monitor for what information Facebook gives me about what it’s sharing with others, so if they’re at least being mostly honest, I know what I’m sharing.

    As far as behavioral analysis, I really don’t think I’m so much of a statistical outlier that I stand any risk of them knowing about me.

    Otherwise, I’ve been on the internet too long to wonder what’s out there about me already. I’ve posted much worse stuff voluntarily than what I’m liable to be surprised by an advertiser finding out.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    John Baxter has the right idea.

    – No Facebook privacy issues (they seem to be 75% of the recent Facebook news)
    – No stupid virtual farms (the other 25%)
    – No constant nagging to join someone’s mafia
    – Employers have a much harder time finding drunken party pictures of you

  6. dalewj Says:

    “Facebook needs to do a heck of a better job at explaining what it does with our information, and how we can exert control over it. ” Lets jsut start with doingthe job in the first place.

  7. Brian Jones Says:

    This is the problem when you build apps, especially social media apps, in the cloud. I think in the future we’ll see more distributed decentralized apps, just like we used to see in the old days. A classic example being email.

  8. Azarethroy Says:

    After spending hours trying to decipher Facebook’s latest privacy policy change, I am presented with one inescapable fact: none of your data on Facebook is truly private. And if it is private now, Facebook will eventually find a way to make it public. The solution is simply to remove any private data and use it for what it is.

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