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 (theglobeandmail.com), 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.

Does Facebook = Over Information?

Facebook statistics

  • More than 750 million active users
  • 50% of which long on any given day
  • Over 250 million active users currently access Facebook via a mobile phone device

These are just some of the figures that make Facebook the most dominate social network site on the planet. It has become much more than a social networking site, it defines not only social networking but also the advancement of the internet and the shrinking of our world. Facebook is currently translated in over 70 languages and the great majority of members are from outside the United States. This dominance, which is astounding considering Facebook was born in 2004, is due to in large part to its ability to be a simple and easy interface to use. This is why not only teenagers and 20 something’s use Facebook, as was much the case with the likes of MySpace. The older generations have openly embraced Facebook. They find (well did find) the basic layout of Facebook inviting and complementary to limited computer knowledge, no need to type in code in order to ‘pimp’ out there profile.

Simplicity equals success

The simple layout of Facebook and its ability to connect effortlessly propelled it to its huge member base, older generations find it easy, and younger generations embrace it, as it is the easiest way to get in contact with anyone. However, the rapid development and current changes are becoming more of an issue than a benefit. Facebook is ever increasing its ability to probe into our profiles; the latest additions of a continuingly updating status bar on the right tab and the ‘status’s we thought you would like’ feel more like overcrowding and have undertones of privacy invasion.

Facebook has had issues with its privacy properties in the past and appears aware of such issues. The once streamlined home page has now become a cluttered mess of over information,

  • friends on chat, other friends on chat,
  • lists: dividing your friends up into their respective groups
  • friends on chat collage on the left hand side
  • the second right hand side roaming updates

All the same thing, but each clutters up the new home page. The only benefit to new Facebook updates has been the increase in picture size. While I find and, I know many of my friends enjoy Facebook on our phones because it reduces the clutter providing access to updates and chat.

Why is Facebook rapidly changing and reinventing?

Facebook is reinventing itself in anticipation of Google+, which until a few days ago was invite only, it is now open to the public and surpassed 20million members in just 5 months. Nothing really to Facebook, but we need to remember MySpace once had well over 250million members when Facebook had limited members. Facebook does not want to go the way of MySpace, it will continue to evolve and incorporate new applications many of which are in direction competition with google+, with its circle systems and sparks.

Facebook will remain the dominate means of social networking, (for now at least) but it must not forget why everyone was hooked on it to begin with. Simplicity and ease of use, sure we love the games, we love the groups and, the chat features, but if our home pages continue to be cluttered and we can no longer swim through the mountains of advertising we may just have to get crazy and maybe chat to our friends face to face once again.