Facebook Privacy Issues: A Wake-up Call

If you watch the news or remotely use the internet, you’ve probably heard of the newly exposed privacy issues of the social media goliath, Facebook. The issues first came to light after Facebook’s F8 developer conference (essentially Facebook’s WWDC) on April 21, 2010. At the conference, among other things, the company announced the institution of what they call their ‘open graph’. Essentially, open graph means that businesses, organizations, services, etc. can have access to your personal preferences via Facebook, without any effort on your part. Facebook will take all of the information about your preferences (things that you’ve liked, become a fan of, etc.) and pass that information along to other companies, against your will. For example, if you ‘like’ The Sports Authority, Dick’s Sports can access that information and provide you with information, ads, and special offers through Facebook. For some, this isn’t an issue, but for others, this breach of privacy may make them feel insecure and uncomfortable with their online identity.

However, the issues that have come to light are more serious than just the open graph. This institution has basically made users realize that privacy on Facebook is nonexistent. Many users, including myself, have always thought that if they’re careful about what they put on the site, and they consciously set their account to a certain level of privacy, then they can use the site privately as a way to connect with their friends (and only their friends!). However, with the open graph, the notion of privacy on Facebook has been destroyed. Many companies and other entities can see your information against your will, and reports are now spreading that Facebook (and other social media giants, in Facebook’s defense) has given out users’ personal information to advertisers; blatantly contrary to what their privacy policy had previously stated. Facebook users are now realizing that nothing they do on the site is private; no matter how hard they have tried to keep it that way.

But how bad is this for Facebook and its users? In my opinion: not very. I see this situation as more of a change of mindset and a wake up call for users, rather than a serious problem. Facebook, and the internet as a whole, has always been a public social community, and now many users are starting to realize that. If you want to keep your information, pictures, preferences, etc. private, they should never be put on Facebook in the first place. Thus, I believe that this exposure will not be catastrophic for Facebook as many have predicted, but rather it will change some users’ ways of thinking about the site; changing it from a private community to socialize with friends, to a public showcase of your online identity, which needs to be carefully monitored and used with caution.

Corey Flayman (1 Posts)

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