Today is “National Kill Your Facebook Day.”
(not sure why its organizers felt confined by the geopolitical boundaries of the United States, but so it goes)
I asked – on my Facebook status, of course – my friends if they’d been thinking about it. Many, many had.
Julian Dibbell asked the other day if Facebook had jumped the shark. In some ways yes, in some ways no. Casual references to the Fonz aside, whether or not Facebook has become socially obsolete, a overplayed, overhyped, etc is another question.
The important thing is that increasingly Facebook users continue to use the site because they feel they have to in order to be social, not because they want to or like to. And when a company subsists on network effects, rather than the trust and goodwill of its users, to survive, that’s not good for anyone.
Nothing stems the flow of the Facebook privacy catastrophe.
- via TechCrunch: Facebook’s Check-In Functionality And New “Places” Tab
Based on the code, this is what it seems that Facebook is about to launch: A mobile version of the site using the HTML5 location component to grab your location information from your phone. Once it does that, you’re taken to this new Places area of Facebook that presumably will have a list of venues around you. From here you can click a button to check-in. Yes, there will be check-ins.
But it’s slightly more interesting than that as well. Facebook will record not only your latitude and longitude, but also your altitude, heading, and speed, according to this code (and assuming they can get all of that information). It will also record the accuracy of the location measurement. I’m just speculating here, but perhaps that will help curb cheating that has begun to run rampant on other location services like Foursquare.
- via PCWorld: How Facebook Pulled a Privacy Bait and Switch
When it first arrived on the scene, Facebook’s main appeal was how well it protected your personal information. Those days are long gone.
In other words, if you joined Facebook in 2005, most of the stuff you thought you were sharing only with your closest college buddies is now being shared amongst the entire InterWebs.
Yes, Facebook is free. Yes, it offers many unique and useful services, as well as a lot of useless dreck. Yes, it needs to generate revenue for these free services. But what Facebook is offering now isn’t what most of us signed up for. This isn’t the original agreement. It’s mutated, and not in a survival-of-the-fittest way — more like a ‘slime mold that’s threatening to eat the earth’ kind of way. The future does not bode well.
- via AllFacebook: How Your Friends Can Expose Your Facebook Data
Do you want everyone on Facebook to see your status? Your information may already be getting shared via another area deep in privacy settings called “Application and Websites.” Many users aren’t aware that there are privacy settings called “Application and Websites” or even “What your friends can share about you” which dictates what your friends can share about you whether or not they realize it. Depending on which friends ‘like’ and comment on your status others on Facebook or friends of friends may be able to see your information.
Imagine your grandma seeing your status about last night’s epic times because your brother or sister ‘liked’ your status. Think hard, then double check what you are comfortable with “What your friends can share about you.”
- via BoingBoing: Go ahead, quit Facebook, but they’ll retain and data mine your info
Still, even if you do manage to truly delete your account once and for all, John reports: “You’ll never see that data again. But Facebook will. They still have that information and will continue to use it for data mining.” Will the data at least be anonymized, the reporter asked? The Facebook rep wouldn’t say. Caveat Facebooker.
- via NYT: Four Nerds and a Cry to Arms Against Facebook:
How angry is the world at Facebook for devouring every morsel of personal information we are willing to feed it?
They announced their project on April 24. They reached their $10,000 goal in 12 days, and the money continues to come in: as of Tuesday afternoon, they had raised $23,676 from 739 backers. “Maybe 2 or 3 percent of the money is from people we know,” said Max Salzberg, 22.
Working with Mr. Salzberg and Mr. Grippi are Raphael Sofaer, 19, and Ilya Zhitomirskiy, 20 — “four talented young nerds,” Mr. Salzberg says — all of whom met at New York University’s Courant Institute. They have called their project Diaspora* and intend to distribute the software free, and to make the code openly available so that other programmers can build on it. As they describe it, the Diaspora* software will let users set up their own personal servers, called seeds, create their own hubs and fully control the information they share. Mr. Sofaer says that centralized networks like Facebook are not necessary. “In our real lives, we talk to each other,” he said.
On this last point, I’ve also been meaning to check out Hibe, a new social network that claims to be explicitly based on the principles and suggestions of my article“Losing Face”. Nice to know someone liked it!
A lot has tumbled out of the woodwork about Facebook privacy over the last week, so here’s a quick review:
- via PCWorld: Facebook’s New Features Secretly Add Apps To Your Profile.
If you visit certain sites while logged in to Facebook, an app for those sites will be quietly added to your Facebook profile. You don’t have to have a Facebook window open, you don’t need to be signed in to these sites for the apps to appear, there’s no notification, and there doesn’t appear to be an option to opt-out anywhere in Facebook’s byzantine privacy settings.
- via AllFacebook: Why Is Facebook Dead Set On Pushing Limits of Privacy?
Does this mean that this is the way the world is going? Or does it simply mean this is the way that internet startups have chosen to “innovate”? I’d argue that it’s the latter and ultimately, Facebook will win when users have complete control of all their information.
While sharing information has become an integral component of our daily communication, who we share that information with differs from person to person. With close to 450 million users, Facebook has plenty of opportunities to make money while simultaneously releasing new innovative technologies. None of this need to violate users’ privacy.
Despite this, Facebook continues to release products that violate the users’ trust and ultimately, that’s going to be more damaging to the company than anything else.
Nick is totally correct about this, and I think it’s telling that AllFacebook – which for a long time has seemed to be a simple fan front for Facebook – is calling them out pretty hard here.
- via AllFacebook: Chris Kelly Does Not Like “Instant Personalization”
Even Chris Kelly – who was in charge of privacy during Beacon – thinks this goes too far.
- via DeObfuscate: Facebook’s Anti-Privacy Monopoly
- Rocket.ly and PrimeVector on why they (and you) should cancel your Facebook account.
- PeteSearch on how Facebook threatened to sue him for revealing some of their data practices.
The biggest response I get from people when I point out these arguments is that “you can just delete your account”. But really, no, I can’t. Nor do I want to. I like using Facebook too much, and not having an account would feel like being a hermit. Facebook use is becoming a somewhat integral part of our society. But that doesn’t mean I can’t argue and fight against what I see as harmful anticompetitive conduct that destroys the bargaining relationship between Facebook users and Facebook, Inc.