Now, Facebook, why’d you have to go and do it again?
I have put up with all your random changes (heck, I even came to like timeline), and I was forgiving of the way you slowly eroded my privacy in a series of opt-out changes, because I liked — nay loved — what you gave me in return. The connections! The friendships! The constant stream of updates. And George Takei!
But this — this might just be the last straw. Whether you believe the outcry from Facebook users who claim that old private messages are being posted very publicly on their new timelines, or whether you believe the Facebook line that people are simply mistaking old wall posts for private messages, it is an eye-opener. See, even if it turns out that Facebook is right, and this latest privacy concern is just a big ol’ mistake, I kinda doesn’t even matter.
Take a look back through recent history, and reflect on these 8 Facebook privacy flaps, including the famous Mark Zuckerburg Harvard hacking episode that was the real beginning of the original social network. I dare you to read this article and not question what’s going on at Facebook. As I posted on my own Facebook feed yesterday:
This latest scandal is part of a pretty scary pattern that demonstrates, at the very best, a completely arrogant disregard for the privacy rights of users. At worst? Something a lot more sinister.
And even if you don’t buy into any Facebook conspiracy theory (for the record, I don’t), doesn’t it piss you off that you have to find out about changes (that always seem to make your personal information more and more vulnerable) through warnings from friends…ON FACEBOOK? Irony notwithstanding, what makes it okay for the Facebook higher-ups to change their privacy protocols without advising the very users who are impacted by the changes? How did we come to a place where that was okay?
Here’s an example…I was trolling my Facebook news feed on my iPhone yesterday morning (as I often do after the alarm but before the shower) when I saw this post about my sister:
Thing is, it wasn’t really a post about my sister at all. It was actually quite a personal post by a friend of hers, not mine, that my sister had commented on. It was probably not something my sister’s friend wanted random people reading. But as of the last change to Facebook, it showed up in my feed.
At first, I felt bad for my sister’s friend. And then I got to thinking…what about things I post to my friend’s profiles? When I comment on their posts, all their friends can read the comments…I know that, and I can think about what I’m writing before I post the comment. That’s cool, I’m in charge of that. But what about my own status updates? Every time I post a status update, does that mean that if a friend comments on it, that their comment (and by extension my post) will appear in their own news feed, for all their friends to see? Friends I don’t know?
Do you see where this is going? In a very Wella Balsam way, everything I say in confidence to my 198 very close Facebook friends (irony acknowledged) is broadcast to their friends, and their friends, and so on…and so on…
Now there may be a way to prevent this happening, but if there is, I don’t know about it. To be sure, I double-checked my privacy settings, and this was what I found there:
Am I missing something? Or did they just come right out and say “the people you share with can always share your information with others”?
They did, didn’t they?
My brain is telling me one thing. My brain is saying, “run — don’t walk — away from Facebook”.
My heart? My heart just can’t quite let go. Not just yet. I mean honestly…could I live without my daily dose of George Takei?
What about you…do you have serious concerns about online privacy or you do bury your head in the sand because the crack of Facebook (and social networking in general) is just too good?