I’ll be closing my Facebook account tomorrow and I think you should too. In fact, you should message all your friends and tell them to close their accounts as well. Since its inception Facebook has constantly and consistently eroded its privacy features to the point that you can no longer keep your personal information secure. Do we care? The overwhelming consensus seems to say no. I am telling you that you should and I’ll give you a few reasons why.
“If your friend connects with an application or website, it will be able to access your name, profile picture, gender, user ID, and information you have shared with “everyone.” It will also be able to access your connections, except it will not be able to access your friend list.” (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150162289930301)
Well isn’t that great? My Facebook friend is lax with their security settings, so third-party sites (that Facebook has deemed worthy) will automatically get access to at least a part of my profile. The term “everyone” is starting to take on a much more literal meaning.
Facebook went the extra mile with this update however, making the news public just after 3pm on a Friday afternoon – a surefire way to make it go unnoticed by the general public. This fact didn’t escape Larry Dignan from Between the Lines blog on ZDnet who weighed in on this practice saying:
“Facebook’s timing is notable and tells us more than we need to know about the proposed privacy changes. On cue, all of the folks that pay attention to Facebook’s privacy moves closely—TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, Louis Gray and Inside Facebook—rang the alarm bells. After all, do we really want to share information with sites screened by Facebook and not the user? And just as the oldest media trick would dictate, the hubbub was fierce on Saturday and Sunday and played out by Monday—just in time for you not to notice.”
So, why all the cloak-and-dagger maneuvers? Kim-Mai Cutler of DigitalBeat mentioned that a similar policy proposal in 2006 resulted in complaints by almost 10% of Facebook users and an eventual reversal of the policy. So is the Friday afternoon announcement to blame or just a lack of privacy concerns from the site’s users? Regardless of the reason the result is the same – the policy will go into affect and your data will be unknowingly or unwillingly shared with third-parties. I for one find that abhorrent on principle alone. Perhaps no one is interested in my information but if they were I would like to know I have control over who gets access.
So after years as a Facebook user it is time for me to throw in the towel. My cancellation will not likely make any difference to Facebook (especially since I purged my friends list a few months ago, removing anyone but family and close friends) but I am hoping that by reading this and sharing it with your friends a small portion of Facebook’s users will have the knowledge to make their own decisions regarding their personal information.
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