by Webnme2 on May 15th 2010 in Social Media
Facebook held a meeting last Thursday to review user privacy concerns and shortly thereafter launched two “privacy” tools to protect account-holders from scammers and alert users to suspicious activity. Unlike the new exposure of personal data that was imposed as a new default, these protections were not added as a default, which suggests to me that facebook just doesn’t get it.
The two new features (1) allow a person to approve what devices access their accounts and (2) block suspicious log-ins. In the latter case there is an attempt to verify identity, but the method used may not be very effectual if the person has shared the same data that is being used to verify identity.
From my perspective this is a week diversion from the core issue which is the exposure of so much personal information without permission from the users whose information is being shared.
Millions of people were lured to facebook with the promise that they could protect their information and decide with whom it would be shared. People relied on this promise in various of the many privacy statements and apparently to their detriment because facebook has continously launched changes without notification to users of the pending change and an opportunity to remove information before it was released. That is the real issue – information placed on facebook with assurances of protection is suddenly public without any notification or opportunity to remove it. This wanton disregard for the privacy of individuals using facebook remains far from resolved and the bone tossed by facebook does little to persuade anyone that facebook is addressing the issue.
It is little wonder that four Senators have now asked the Federal Trade Commission to begin developing a set of guidelines for the governance of social networking web sites’ use of information provided by users.
The only good thing that I can say about this diversion is that facebook did not reset privacy settings as it seems to have done in each new evolution in the past. Still one has to wonder whether the convoluted and complex settings of facebook are more designed to wear down users than to help them have meaningful privacy.
This has been enough to convince me to remove most of my data, dump all the facebook applications, avoid any advertisers on facebook, and stop interacting with websites that have added the new facebook “like” box. Several friends are even giving some thought to setting up Web 2.0 sites for their extended families using one of the many free services available where family privacy can be protected. Perhaps it is time to have a distributed network of interlinked personally controlled sites. I applaud the efforts of the students who are setting up Diaspora — a personally controlled, Do-It-All, Distributed Open-Source Social Network. See the video below: