my two cents on facebook privacy


Everyone seems to be talking about Facebook privacy these days so i’ll give my two cents (which i know isn’t going to be popular). Personally, i think people are over reacting to it all. If you want privacy, you have to ask yourself why you’re using facebook in the first place… or any other social network for that matter…

In fact, why are these people online at all? If you want to hide or deliberately withhold information for some reason from certain people, you can’t expect to put it online and have complete control over who and what has access to it. Somewhere along the line, you’ll get burned for having that attitude.

YOU are the problem, not facebook

Most people don’t care about privacy until it backfires in their face. They don’t care when they bad mouth a boss or pose for drunken pictures with their friends. They only care when the consequences of those actions become real and harsh. So if that’s what privacy means to you, don’t question facebook or these new policies, question yourself.

The best way to stop anything is to stop it at source. YOU are the source. Not facebook, not google, not the internet. The buck must stop with you. If you say something online, even in private, you must be prepared to defend it in public. Nothing is secure online in my opinion. Assuming something is secure is a risk…. however small.

You say goodbye, but do you really think it's over?
Creative Commons License photo credit: Shootingsnow

The only way to ensure 100% privacy is to ensure there is no privacy at all and to make everything public. If you get in to a drunken state and start taking random photos of yourself or get snapped by other people, you need to be able to defend your actions… if you post about your trip down the country when you’re supposed to be off work sick, you need to be able to defend that. Expect the worst, expect your private data and conversations to get in to the public eye…

Responsibility starts with you and ends with Facebook, not the other way around. If you don’t post information, there is no problem. Facebook is the messenger and if you don’t like or trust the messenger, shoot them…. or don’t use them at all.

How privacy works (or doesn’t) in the real world

It’s hard to believe that people get so protective about privacy these days when privacy is the anti-internet. In the last couple of weeks alone, had privacy worked, we wouldn’t have heard about Gordon Brown’s biggot remark, we wouldn’t have known about Gerry Ryan’s death until mainstream media brought it to us etc…

Both of those events should have been private, but because people trusted other people, they weren’t. Gordon brown trusted someone would turn his mike off or take it off. He trusted the media wouldn’t leak private conversation… bottom line was he trusted people that couldn’t be trusted with sensitive, private discussion. Look where that got him.

Shepherd's Bush Wit
Creative Commons License photo credit: landofkit

Apparently, a paramedic text his/her niece about Gerry Ryan’s death. That’s how the twitter world & found out (there’s still some confusion over who broke the news first). Did the paramedic trust his niece to keep that information private? Probably, but look where that trust got him/her. The news was plastered all over the internet within minutes.

In both of those situations, assumptions were made, people were trusted and then private information became public information. It’s exactly the same with facebook… your profile could be locked down so that only friends can see it. But what if i’m your friend, take a screenshot of something you said and then share it with the world? You see! Privacy doesn’t work the way you want it to work online… it’s too complicated, there are too many networks and people involved for you to call the shots… once you hit publish or upload, you must be prepared to lose control.

Sacrificing privacy for the good of the web

If you talk about privacy, that means you talk about trust. They go together. In order to have privacy, you need to have trust. Would you trust facebook to keep information private? No. Would you trust google? No. Never trust anyone or any company online. It’s tough enough to do it offline.

Facebook are not evil, they’re not trying to take over the world. They’re simply shifting more responsibility on to users which i think is a good thing. If users don’t like it, they know what they can do… more openness and more information can only be good for the internet. We should welcome and embrace it, not try to move backwards and restrict the flow of information. Many people would be lost without facebook… just like they’d be lost without Google.

Creative Commons License photo credit: v i p e z

The online media have now become anti-facebook in my opinion. Several big tech names (certainly most google employees) have closed down their facebook accounts which means facebook now have big decisions to make. They have to call bluff and plough on with what they believe in, or they have to compromise and listen to what the more cautious users are demanding.

In order for the internet to evolve, we need more information & fewer barriers. By stripping away privacy, we become much more aware of what we say and do, how we act etc… You can’t pick and choose what should be published… let it all flow out and watch the world grow with more knowledge. Privacy by its very nature creates barriers and protects information. But we have to ask ourselves why does that information need protection? Who are we trying to protect it from and how come we want to share it with some people and not with others?

6 thoughts on “my two cents on facebook privacy”

  1. So true, how people can blame facebook for them assuming everything they do online is completely secret and secure is ridiculous. The internet is a public forum, you gotta expect everything and anything you do on here to be discovered at some point

  2. it's the type of craze i can see going viral, globally, very quickly! i can also imagine the creators on the late late show at some stage saying they 'never expected it to get this big'…

  3. I have to disagree with some of this. Firstly:

    In fact, why are these people online at all?

    The internet is not just about personal information. There are many levels of communication which are facilitated online. People should be allowed communicate with other people on this medium without it being public. Whilst I agree this is difficult and does require trust, it does not mean people should not have the right to do so. This idea of “the end of privacy” etc. is a new invention, it is not inherent in the internet or the web.

    If you get in to a drunken state and start taking random photos of yourself or get snapped by other people, you need to be able to defend your actions…

    Why? If someone else takes a picture of me, and puts it online without my permission why must I be forced to defend myself? What if I don't want to enter that dialogue? I'm forced too? Why is that so?

    Now, I don't think Facebook are evil, but I understand why the backlash has happened. Its because Facebook moved the goal posts, and suddenly. Private should be the default, you should optin to public. Not the other way round.

    We need to tread very carefully in this brave new world. I agree that privacy is changing, but to just abandon it and embrace some kind of unfettered public outpouring of information is dangerous.

  4. fair points and attitudes don't / won't change overnight however it's interesting to see how the online media have reacted compared to regular users…

    since facebook made the changes, i've noticed activity in my own feed has increased significantly and i know facebook are saying the same thing… so the changes they've made have increased activity which first and foremost is good for them, but it's also good for us and the internet in general.

    more activity = more communication = more knowledge

    i agree it takes balls to make sweeping changes to privacy like that and basically turn 'opt in' to 'opt out' overnight. personally, i couldn't do it myself, even though i share facebook's philosophy. it is a huge change and one which not many companies would get away with.

    but facebook don't really have to worry about reputation or user protests… at this stage facebook is a machine thats out of control and the only way it can be defeated (imo) is if competition comes along.

    if you think about it, myspace only died because of facebook / bebo… bebo died because of facebook… there is nobody to kill facebook, so users don't really have an option but to play by their rules..

    even if you disagree with facebook policies and would like to close your account, where do you go? how do you communicate with friends unless friends are on another network? you're almost snookered, but i don't think facebook are doing it purely for profit or to build better ad targetting systems… that's just one major benefit of this change.

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