Privacy Issues on Facebook

The following is a post regarding Facebook and its abundant privacy related issues by Brabble CEO and Founder Patrick Mackaronis.

Countless social media, despite their common goal of connecting people have now recognized the significance of including privacy settings in their features. This is in response to the unvarying criticisms addressed by Facebook users, politicians and privacy regulators.

Some say it directly contradicts the mere purpose of subscribing to a certain social media. Others say employing privacy settings is a way of giving subscribers a sort of choice in selecting friends and in broadcasting statuses and other details about them.

Facebook, through the course of its popularity, has employed numerous changes trying to satisfy the character of the audience. However not all changes were accepted since some of these have made the use of Facebook more complicated than ever.

The “Like” Button

Facebook’s “Like” button is now being featured to external websites and media. Before this change, the said button only existed for Facebook users who hit the button to approve and share their opinions with friends about posted photos, uploaded videos and other changes in one’s information. Even comment threads can now be “liked” by other subscribers.

At the moment, Facebook estimates more than 350,000 websites with the “Like” feature. In fact, the autonomous technology blogsite, “All Facebook” has nearly 65 million “Like” clicks per day. Other websites have already offered the button without the users knowing that their likes are being exposed and shown on the media, and other sites in the Interweb.

Consequences of the “Like” Button

In an article by Jacquie Mcnish (, the author notes a statement from Ottawa University law professor and Internet advocate David Fewer, “There is a lot of uncertainty about the consequences of the Like button. You don’t know what is going to happen to the information or how it is being stored.”

In 2009, Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart led an investigation on Facebook’s omnipresent “Like” button after receiving an unrevealed objection that the said element violates privacy rights. The agency called for a stricter yet uncomplicated application of Facebook privacy settings.

Stoddart claimed that Facebook was indecently allowing outsiders access to personal photos, information and other data posted by other users.

Facebook and the Canadian Privacy

Los Angeles Times’ Jessica Guyn reports, Canada’s privacy commissioner said that Facebook has resolved concerns she raised a year ago over third-party access to the social networking service’s users.” (Los Angeles Times).

The report further states that before the changes, subscribers who wanted to play games or access third-party applications had to make all of their information available. “In May, Facebook changed its policy, requiring applications to tell users what parts of their profile the applications want to access and to get permission to access them.”

Stoddart said that she is satisfied the way Facebook has created simplified privacy settings and has applied a tool that allows users to control a privacy setting to each photo or comment they post. However, she said that her agency will remain vigilant on probing and monitoring other issues involving Facebook and privacy.

Time Newsfeed writes, “Despite those improvements, Stoddart believes the privacy battle is far from finished.

Redefining Privacy

Facebook has changed its regulation on third-party access to social networking service’s users. The company claims to give users more control over what information they share and with whom by using the customized and simplified privacy settings.

Facebook’s privacy officer Michael Ritcher states, “Making the privacy controls on Facebook comprehensive and easy to understand is an important part of our commitment to giving every person the power to control their own Facebook experience.”

There is still a huge ambiguity regarding how people interpret “privacy” across different nations. With Facebook catering to various nations worldwide, the challenge to satisfy varying audience’s character will persist.

Conversely, some people are now thinking of the possibility that Facebook can serve as a surveillance tool.

Patrick Mackaronis is the CEO and Founder of Brabble, and can be reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

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