I’m not posting any links to news stories here; this topic is all over the Internet. Check your favorite news website for details. There’s an article there somewhere, I promise.
Also, I don’t normally write a lot about privacy, but this is a hot issue, and I do believe that privacy and fraud prevention concerns are related.
A lot of people have been concerned about the privacy of their personal information on Facebook. It seems that, as the website has grown, more and more of your private details are available for viewing by other people, third party vendors and everyone else in the universe.
Of course, most people seem to be logging on to Facebook to complain about this, which is probably ironic, but still—it seems they might actually be listening, at long last. All those people threatening to quit the site (when you know as well as I do they have no intention of doing so) can relax a little bit.
The privacy settings on Facebook are famously complex. There are over a hundred options, I believe. Supposedly, the new setup with make it a lot easier to manage—I’ve heard of a single click to turn off access by third parties, which is good. I don’t care so much if friends of friends see a photo of me, but I care a lot about companies believing they should have unfettered access to my personal details.
Of course, the acid test will be whether or not these new features turn out to be a real change on the molecular level, or just lip service to privacy concerns. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been pretty cocky about this. Apparently, he believes that everyone wants everyone else in the world to be able to access information about them. I happen to believe that’s not true, and simply wanting to use a social networking site does not implicitly mean that a user wants some shady ringtone retailer (or Walmart, BP or Monsanto) to be able to mine their data.
A lot of us only want to connect with certain people and share our lives with them, and by “certain people” we do not mean “corporations” or “complete strangers.” Time will tell if these changes are the genuine article, or just more, “Facebook really cares about your privacy; that’s why we’ve allowed Cash4Gold to look at your entire profile and all your status updates.”