Facebook Stalking Made Easy

22 May

If it were a country, it would be the world’s 3rd largest, ahead of the United States and only behind China and India. It even tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S. What is it? That’s right Facebook.

Given its popularity I can only guess that you, your mom, teacher, possibly grandmother, and 10-year-old niece all have Facebook accounts.

Since it first opened shop to college students in 2005, its privacy protection regulations have changed dramatically, or to put it another way shrank drastically. Personal information that you believe you’re sharing with only the closest of friends and colleagues is now being shared with the entire Internet. Dan Tynan of ITworld said Facebook pulled a privacy bait and switch. Tynan compared Facebook to a friend who lets you live in an apartment he owns for free as long as you don’t mind him dropping by now and again. But over time he keeps changing the lease to where it eventually allows him to come over to the apartment when he feels like to throw a large party.

You can take a look for yourself how the privacy settings have evolved over the years with this interactive infograph: The Evolution of privacy on Facebook.

Wired.com claims Facebook has gone rogue and people should start searching for an alternative social network. People aren’t likely to leave Facebook anytime soon, but everyone should be aware of what is going on with personal information.

So how do you keep your “private” Facebook details private? BusinessInsider.com recently released a how-to-guide on putting your Facebook profile on a privacy lockdown. Follow their step-by-step visual guide to help you keep your personal information just between you and your friends.

As I logged on my Facebook profile today I caught this pop-up:

Worried about privacy? Your photos are safe. There have been misleading rumors recently about the use of your photos in ads. Don’t believe them. These rumors were related to third-party applications, and not ads shown by Facebook. Get the whole story at the Facebook Blog, or check out the Help Center.

Curious about what Facebook says about privacy? Read it here: Facebook’s guide to privacy.

Wired.com put it simply in Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Alternative, “if multiple blogs are writing posts explaining how to use your privacy system, you can take that as a sign you aren’t treating your users with respect, it means you are coercing them into choices they don’t want using design principles. That’s creepy.”

If you have a Facebook account, check your privacy settings now to make sure your information is as secure as it should be.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/markcph/CC BY-SA 2.0

* Post originally published at brass|MAGAZINE


3 Responses to “Facebook Stalking Made Easy”

  1. paulbalcerak May 25, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    I continue to be mystified by people who thought Facebook could be trusted in the first place. Is it that “regular people” didn’t realize that by “posting” information to the internet they were actually publishing?

    Or maybe it was a misunderstanding: People are not Facebook’s customers, advertisers are—and personal information is the product.

    • Makenzie Marineau May 26, 2010 at 7:28 am #

      Great points, and great blog post on the issue. I don’t understand how people don’t realize that if you put something online there are always ways of finding it (personalized junk mail has been around forever).

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. paulbalcerak May 26, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    I’m seeing social media curriculum pop up more and more in college communication courses, but I’m really hoping it just becomes a blanket topic at some point—and not just in college, either.

    We’re already at the point where social media—how to use it, how to stay safe, what’s legal, etc.—is being used by kids in grade school and it should be taught accordingly. Libel in particular used to just be something that journalists and professional writers worried about, but these days it can affect just about anyone.

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