The de-privatizing of Facebook

To answer your question, if I do what business is it of yours?!

I logged onto my Facebook last night and the first thing that appeared was a large window notifying me in a change of the website’s privacy settings, ugh. I clicked around and perused through the new format only to find myself annoyed because privacy settings have become overly simplified…and now I have to re-do all of the privacy settings I once established.

I assume that most people are semi-conscious of the news and therefore know that in the past 2 years people have been fired and screened for jobs using Facebook, business have used Facebook as a viable option for the current and future employees because the website no longer protects its user’s information by default. And now this leads into my main point…Facebook is and has been de-privatizing, with a quickness. Why? To compete with Twitter.

Continued after the drop.

Recent additions to Facebook now allow users to tag events, groups, and friends in status updates. In addition there is an option to broaden or limit the broadcast level of  status updates; the selection comes down to “everyone, friends and networks, friends of friends, only friends, and customize.” These updates were all very Twitter-esque and to my knowledge were one of the few Facebook add-ons that users did not call for trying to get a group of one million supporters a mass revolt. Why is all of this important? With the installment of today’s grand de-privatizing update the default broadcast level of status updates is “everyone,” unless you change that in your status updates. An article I read over at TechCrunch framed the situation as the following.

First, we’ll hear some reports of people accidentally sharing too much in their updates, only to have a prospective employer find that information when they run a name check on Facebook. Similar stories have been around for ages, so most people probably won’t be alarmed. The real trouble will start when Facebook starts sharing these status updates with the search engines and other third parties. Bing will be getting access to Facebook ‘Everyone’ status updates in early 2010. Google will only have access to Fan Pages at first, but don’t be surprised if they cough up the cash for access to the status updates too. Both of these sites cache data. And you can be sure more sites and applications will be pulling in these updates too.

Photo Courtesy of TechCrunch.com

My issue is that despite all of the updates Facebook has ever made, most people have never been conscious or concerned enough to look through their privacy settings with such precision to fully protect themselves. I know I do but I am not the average Facebook user and I like keeping myself protected, its really a good look. Moreover, with these new features Facebook has also updated its privacy policy to state, in simpler words, that if users do not take the steps to update their privacy settings Facebook has no responsibility for the repercussions of shared content and furthermore any content that users share with “everyone” that is deleted from a page will be removed but its use outside of Facebook is unrestricted.

Among the other things, the fan pages that users support are no longer private. I feel it is necessary to point this out because I have noticed a spike in people joining random and sometimes controversial fan pages; everyone can see that now unless you make it private. A source for even more concern are the Facebook apps, you know all of those quizzes and games people play and how they ask if your information can be shared? Well now if a friend of yours uses such an application, they can share any information you have elected to share…again all available for control in the Facebook Privacy Center.

My impressions of Facebook and its privacy settings are that it has reached a state of all-or-nothing. Users will either be fully exposed or incredibly protected…I choose to be protected and I suggest you do the same. Social networking websites are the benefit of the creator and the companies behind them and are equally the downfall of the public they “serve”…they bring the world closer and simultaneously destroy boundaries of privacy. I’m not calling social networking the root of all evil…money already occupies that space, my emphasis is on users who want to protect themselves having the knowledge to do so. In closing I’ll leave an excerpt from CNN, outlining how to protect your profile with respect to these new settings.

How to access the changes

The new controls will be available under the “Settings” link at the top right of every page, in addition to being available in the dialogue box.

For each section — profile information, contact information, applications and search — users will be asked to pick from three options about who can access the information: Friends, Friends of friends, or Everyone.

The changes do away with “regional networks,” which let users designate themselves as residents of a geographic area. But Facebook is retaining school- and company-based networks.

It is worth noting that many users will find their privacy options set at “Recommended settings” by default. If you retain those, your information will be available to everyone.

If you would rather the site not share your information publicly, you will need to click through each section and restrict it to “Friends” only.

This applies for photos as well. A user will have to specify album by album how much access to grant others.

In addition, you will have to go under “Search” and specify whether you want Facebook to make your information available to users who look for you on Facebook and on the Web.

Source: CNN, TechCrunch

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4 Responses to The de-privatizing of Facebook

  1. Rev.R says:

    And for the record, I lready had a random friend request sitting on my notifications when I first logged on today. And by random I mean no friends in common, no shared area, nothing…the last time I had one of those was when Facebook was opened up to non-college students.

  2. I’ll never understand the whole absolutely no friends in common thing. How did you find me? Really…
    Good article, though. I’m like you. Definitely not the average Facebook user. My profile is like a vault, baby, locked down! [Hitch quote, anyone?]

    • Rev.R says:

      Well an actual friend of mine on Facebook sent me an invite to your fan page and from there blog and the twitter. I’m definitely leaning towards deleting my Facebook in the near future if the privacy settings keep changing like this.

  3. pr0go says:

    Yeah… the switch.crew knows that I have been off facebook for like a year and half now. I shut down my account…AND it is possible to do. It involves actually contacting facebook to get it done. And believe me…THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO SHUT DOWN YOUR ACCT! They gave me all kinds of options and excuses. I almost came back only to promote switch. But life’s so peaceful sans facebook. It’s not for everyone. When my friends are on their pages… I don’t even recognize it anymore. LOL

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