[The following is an encore article that was originally published on 24 May 2010.]
Given that Facebook has attained First Place Corporate Douchebag Award in the Social Networking Privacy Nightmare of the Century category, I continue to toy with the idea of deleting my account.
It isn’t just that Zuckerberg is a skank-tacular, opportunistic whore or even that he is an unethical sack of spooge. And it isn’t just that the privacy controls users had been told they had have been continually baited & switched quarterly since 2006. But then again, maybe it is.
What chaps my ass the most is that Zuckerberg’s personal pocketbook-enhancing decisions have reduced users to choosing between basic privacy controls vs. not using one of the most popular social networking apps in the history of the Internet. The status quo Facebook has been steadily ensuring is that your online presence boils down to either every single facet of your profile is up for grabs to advertisers and anyone else who cares to take a look, or you are persona non-grata.
Oh, sure, you could smugly state that if privacy is such a big deal then you can just delete your account, or nobody really worries about privacy anyway, or hey! don’t disclose the info in the first place. But these are oversimplifications spewed by the same dittoheads who probably think that it’s fun/cool to upload the photographic documentation of their bi-curious bukkake encounter.
Or who think that announcing on Facebook to everyone that their boss is an asshole is an awesome way to enhance their career.
Or they’ve never heard of identity theft and have no idea Facebook is an ID thief’s wet dream.
In any case, they don’t exude a whole lot of credibility.
Tell me I’m wearing a tin foil hat, but I don’t happen to agree that social networking is an all or nothing proposition. Nor do I agree that the minute I sign onto a social network that my info should become ubiquitous to anyone with an Internet connection by default.
Make all the arguments you want in favor of Facebook, but when was the last time you were out in the real world networking amongst colleagues and/or on an interview, and, you had to wonder whether the contents of your resume, as well as the details of your likes/dislikes, and, any comment you ever made were being filed away indefinitely to be sold off later to others for unknown purposes?
Only people dumb as a box of rocks and/or who have become billionaires from selling confidential data make excuses for a social networking site that erodes user privacy controls.
Info disclosed on a resume for networking purposes is a far cry from the explicit, all-inclusive nature of a Facebook profile. And while it may be in your interest to upload images of yourself sucking on a bong with a 12-inch dildo protruding out of your ass because you want to showcase your porno-rific skill sets to Ron Jeremy, this isn’t the kind of exposure the average Facebook user would realistically want floating about the web with no way to control who sees it. But thanks to Facebook’s continually eroding user privacy controls, now everyone can view your photos/info by default whether you’d like them to or not. Hey, if you don’t like this arrangement, then you can always just deactivate your account, you silly privacy advocate.
Note here that the above referenced is an extreme example used to underscore my point. We can just as easily substitute other sensitive data such as images of your child, writing samples, and other confidential data that would not normally be published via the Internet. But like it or not, the Internet has become the de facto communication standard in the modern world. If you don’t think that’s accurate, then you haven’t looked for a job in the past decade.
Other social networks such as MySpace, Twitter, and yes, even Google Buzz don’t play the kind of TOS games that Facebook does. Granted, the debut of Buzz was a complete clusterfuck due in part to laziness exhibited by the company, but mostly, the negative noise regarding Buzz can be exclusively attributed to irresponsible users who can’t be bothered to read a How To.
So what’s a reasonably prudent social networker to do? Barring account deactivation, you can:
Lock down your profile (Be advised you will have to periodically monitor settings every 3-4 months when FB changes/resets the privacy controls again.)
Use Reclaim Privacy’s Facebook Privacy Scanner
Follow Prattle On, Boyo to stay informed of Facebook privacy changes via:
Do not include any contact info beyond an email address.
Do not publish any images you would be uncomfortable sending as a postcard.
For the moment, I’ve decided to keep my Facebook account, but that may change when the next round of modifications to the TOS are rolled out. Stay tuned.
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