Review: Facebook's Privacy Issues

Many have said that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade.

Facebook‘s privacy policy and use of your information is worse than lemons. It’s shit.

Good luck selling shit-ade on your local street corner this summer.

Everyone is aware that Facebook’s privacy policy isn’t that great. Most people have no idea just how bad it is, though.

Some of us have read the things. It’s a fucking cesspool, and they’re still dumping crap in there all the time.

The full current privacy policy is available here.

It’s 5830 words long. That’s longer than the United States constitution. While I was counting bullshit, I took the time before beginning this article to count the settings required to lock down your Facebook profile as best as it can be.

You have to change over 50 settings. FIFTY. And not all of them are even all that easy to find.

The New York Times made an infographic showing what you have to change to set things how you like to protect your information.

Look at all those settings. If each of those was a tentacle, and your personal information were a nubile young anime girl, that would be a scene from Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend.

To see what information you’re currently leaking all over the internet, click here. Hopefully it’s not too much, and you don’t care about what it is. Stopping this horrible leakage would normally take entirely too much effort to fix. Thankfully, a nice group took the time to take care of things for you. Click here for their help.

Some of you may not understand why this is such a big issue? After all, you just post some stuff on Facebook from time to time. It’s no big deal. If a few people see it, that’s fine…right?

Anyone can see it, more than likely. Forever. Your kids will be able to look up whatever you posted on Facebook yesterday 30 years from now. Your boss can see it. Your future wife. Your mom. The government.

ANYONE.

It’s only getting worse.

Here’s a neat flash animation showing how Facebook’s privacy issues have evolved over the years.

Facebook changes their privacy policy often, so they can use your information to make money off you. They sell it to advertisers. They’ll probably sell it to anyone.

Mark Zuckerberg, the inventor ((although some still dispute this, he did win the legal case brought against him by the two early partners he had who claim he stole the entire idea from them)) and CEO of Facebook, has said that he has no real regard for people’s privacy.

Below is an IM conversation reported by SAI between Mark Zuckerberg and a friend, from back when he first started Facebook:

“Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks.

Trustworthy, right? I’d totally give that guy my credit card number. Or tell him who all my friends are.

Everyone got so upset when Google Buzz exposed their contact lists. Google fixed it within a few days of the issue being brought to their attention. Facebook does that with very little issue, even for people who have attempted to turn that “feature” off.

So, we’re using a service run by a conniving asshole who wants to sell every scrap of info you give him so that we can stay in easy contact with each other. There’s no serious alternative available, and we’ll all keep using it while the service continually updates its “privacy settings” to opt us in to whatever scam it likes.

I use it to stay in contact with my family, who I had a falling out with in the past. It keeps them at a comfortable distance, but we still know what’s going on in the lives of each other. Until the value of that outweighs the burden of dealing with Facebook’s privacy issues, you’ll find me there, being bent over Zuckerberg’s fucking barrel.

But I won’t be surprised when we all get Zuckerpunched.

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~ by Benjamin Kenneally on May 18, 2010.

2 Responses to “Review: Facebook's Privacy Issues”

  1. Love the Legend of the Overfiend reference.

    Hate to say it, but this is super, super simple to fix: Don’t put anything you don’t want people looking at online. I Tweet (which feeds to FB) about various and sultry things, but not anything that I DON’T want public, such as my tendency to torture, kill, and finally eat one-legged hookers.

    It’s really not a hard line to draw folks.

    Oh, FYI, bkI’s integration with Facebook is one way and we currently have no plans to institute any of the new FB connection stuff that prompted their latest change in their Privacy Policy. You want to share a bkI post on FB? Use the “Share This” button at the bottom of every page.

  2. It is super simple to fix. The attitude above is the one I use.

    HOWEVER…

    most people on the internet are not used to living in public. I’ve been posting on BBSs since I was 12, and assume everything I ever place in an email/webpost/microblog/mediumofthemoment will be seen by the entire world. The vast majority of internet citizens do not think in this manner, and it will take a generation of turnover for the average person on the net to do so. In the meantime, the poor fools out there posting without thinking need to be protected. It’s irresponsible of Facebook to not assist them in doing so without all this current rigamarole.

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