Currently, there is an outcry over privacy in Facebook. Some minor celebrities have announced that they’re quitting Facebook over privacy. And as evidence that Facebook has gone mainstream, traditional media is running stories on how to protect your privacy in Facebook.
Even today, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted an apology for the confusing privacy settings, without addressing the fundamental privacy issues.
One apologist on TechCrunch wrote that one should not share any private information in Facebook. That’s not bad advice, but it doesn’t exonerate Facebook.
Through most of the internet, it’s clear what information is private and what is public. If you write a blog, it’s public. On Twitter, all posts are global unless you ‘protect’ your account. In email from your home computer, the information is mostly private (though it’s important to avoid sensitive information like passwords).
Facebook promotes itself as the premier site to build a ‘social network’. Share your stories and pictures. Reconnect with distant friends and family. In principle, these should be people you would trust with private information, like when you’re away from home, your birthdate, or your pet’s name. (And personal information like that is frequently used for ‘security questions’ in personal banking and commerce).
I fully appreciate that Facebook is in business to make money. I’m willing to pay for a service that will help me connect with friends and family, if they wouldn’t sell out my personal details to the highest bidder. Exploiting my personal relationships is a sleazy move.
I have never liked Facebook, but I reluctantly joined because many of my friends and family participate. I’m hoping for an alternative that doesn’t pay lip-service to privacy – that doesn’t think my personal information is just another bit of marketing data. And hopefully my family and friends will join me so that we can keep the personal conversations private.