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Society - Written by on Friday, May 7, 2010 18:09 - 6 Comments

Jeff DeChambeau
A rough week for Facebook (and the privacy of facebook users)

Early last week a blog post titled Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook starting making the rounds. The article has been followed by a dogpile of evidence supporting any decision to quit the site. The EFF published a quick piece showing the erosion of facebook privacy since 2005. A bug was discovered that let you spy on the real-time conversations of any of your friends. And, the nail in the coffin for my account, another bug was discovered that facebook was allowing third party sites automatic access to user data, without the approval of users. Just today I came across a great interactive graph that shows just how bad, coding errors notwithstanding, the privacy situation on facebook has become.


(Click for the full/interactive chart, it should make far more sense than the clip above)

I conducted a highly informal and unscientific poll of the nGenera Insight staff here in the Toronto office. Fully 3/4 of our facebook-using colleagues have stripped their profile of information because of these privacy policy changes and tech blunders, and in some cases have chosen to walk away from the site entirely.

With each iterative change it seems like facebook inches closer to a user pain-point that drives users away from the site for good. What do you expect it would take you to walk away from the site?


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Storytelling Social Media Marketing PR Business & Technology Curated Stories May 9, 2010
May 9, 2010 17:53

[...] A rough week for Facebook (and the privacy of facebook users) Published: May 7, 2010 Source: Wikinomics Early last week a blog post titled Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook starting making the rounds. The article has been followed by a dogpile of evidence supporting any decision to quit the site. The EFF p… [...]

Naumi Haque
May 10, 2010 11:50

As one of the nGenera individuals that stripped their Facebook profile of information, the biggest problem for me was that my personal information and likes became public pages. I’m fine to tell my friends what movies and music I like, but I’m not too keen on this being public information that marketers can use for targeting or that potential business associates or employers can search. I’m also a bit annoyed with each of my interests and likes being a page unto itself where others gather to discuss and comment about this interest. In many cases, the pages don’t even make sense (why is “and so much more” a page?). I’m fine with stating I enjoy listening to hip-hop music or reading Y: The Last Man, but do I want to be part of an open discussion on these topics? Not particularly. Why do companies assume that everyone on social media wants to have a conversation? Just because technology lets you do something, doesn’t mean you should. My colleague Denis Hancock will be the first to point to his research and tell you that for the vast majority of applications, people using social media tools simple want to broadcast and receive information. “Thank you Mr. Marketer, I enjoy your Brand X detergent, but don’t really have time to have a conversation with you about doing laundry.”

In the end, I just got annoyed and nuked all the data on my ‘Info’ tab that would be public. I joined Facebook to share and connect with my friends, not to build a public profile (that’s what LinkedIn is for), or to share information with marketers, or to have conversations about all the things I enjoy doing in my free time. Poor privacy = less sharing, less openess, and less value for users.

Mike Dover
May 10, 2010 23:21

The counter point is that Facebook is a great utility that is free for users most of whom receive some measure of value. Yet, although Facebook has a large capitalization, it has struggled for revenue and these decisions were clearly made to fix that situation.

As much as people resent their information being shared, I suspect that most of those would prefer that to paying a monthly fee for access.

Since people can take the time to remove “likes” (I did) or vote with their feet (kill their account), Zuckerberg isn’t Dr. Evil quite yet.

May 11, 2010 12:06

I, too, made private (Only Friends) most of my Facebook profile, primarily because I don’t want to be pestered or targeted with marketing. I could Customize my privacy settings but that’s too much work, and ultimately if I only have a few people I want to share things with, I will go back to email and (wow!) face to face connections. But I also agree with Mike: personal data is exactly what marketers want and need and times have caught up with Facebook and other social sites. To paraphrase a well known quip often attributed to bank robber Willy Sutton, the reason marketers go to Facebook and Twitter et al. for data is because that’s where the data is. If social networking sites need money (who doesn’t?), “sharing” data with organizations that want it seems like a no-brainer. Whether that’s fair or not to people who never expected their data to be productized is another question. People can protect their personal information to a large extent on Facebook if they want to spend five minutes doing it, but I think the pressure on the site to monetize their only valuable asset is going to be too much. Hey, if you don’t want to play, don’t sign up.

Facebook layouts
Jul 10, 2010 1:34

I’m not a creeper or anything but I’ve been searching everyday for the past week for an old friend on facebook, myspace etc. We met on a pen pal website ( loll ) and about a week ago I’ve been really anxious because my life has been taking a lot of rough hits with depression, drugs, and alcohol and it makes me feel even worse to think about this girl I met I have her number, however it immediately goes to an automated voice mail whenever I call not hearing a single ring and I don’t leave messages but once because I don’t wanna be labeled stalker lol.. But starting 2 weeks ago she said ‘I’m going to DC’ and I was like ‘YA!!!!!’ but she logged off before i could even get the message to her and now for the past two weeks i have been thinking of her I’ve gone on youthful where she posted a comment on my video found her i was so happy but my heart hit the floor when it said : User is suspended.. I was so pissed but I haven’t given up hope yet but please someone? I feel like I really do love this person, I do not want to get over her, I have no source of connection but should I keep trying to find

Wikinomics – The privacy discussion we need to have
Sep 30, 2010 10:41

[...] of security consultant turned fiction author Daniel Suarez. So, when facebook’s latest privacy debacle happened, the idea of my wall-posts and liked-pages being shared with the world was secondary in my mind to [...]

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