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Here, in flowchart format, is facebook's 'easy' way to control privacy

Discussion in 'Technology' started by alexd, May 13, 2010.

  1. alexd

    alexd Administrator Staff Member

  2. alexd

    alexd Administrator Staff Member

    Facebook downplays crisis meeting

    By Maggie Shiels
    Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

    Facebook has downplayed the significance of a company-wide meeting to discuss privacy issues.

    The blogosphere described the meeting as a panic measure following weeks of criticism over the way it handles members' data.

    Several US senators have made public calls for Facebook to rethink its privacy safeguards.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, launched a petition directed at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

    It called on him to regain the trust of users by giving them control over all the information shared via Facebook.

    Earlier this week European data protection officials weighed in on the controversy and called privacy changes "unacceptable".

    A number of high-profile users have also deleted their Facebook accounts after the site introduced a new feature that lets non-Facebook websites, or third parties, post the personal views of Facebook users without their consent.

    'Back to basics'

    Facebook described its internal get together as part of its "open culture" giving employees "a forum to ask questions on a topic that has received a lot of outside interest".

    Industry watchers said the company, which is the world's biggest social network, has shown it has "lost touch" over the issue.

    "Most of us got onto Facebook because we want to know what our high school quarterback is doing or to reconnect with old school friends, not worry about how our information is going to be used," Catharine P Taylor, media blogger with news site BNET.com told the BBC.

    "They need to get back to basics, throw out their policy and start all over again," she said. "It's way too complex for most people to understand how to change their settings and if they can't make it simple for people to make choices, it will cost them."

    A report this week by the New York Times revealed that Facebook's privacy policy has 50 different settings and 170 options.

    The paper also found that the policy is longer than the US Constitution with 5,830 words.

    'How to quit'

    Recently the issue of how to deactivate a Facebook account has gained traction.

    The blog SearchEngineLand reported that anyone who typed the query "How to quit..." into Google got as their number eight automated result "how to quit Facebook". It followed results for how to quit smoking, your job and drinking.

    A number of well respected technologists have pulled the plug on their account.

    Peter Rojas, co-founder of the gadget site gdgt.com, told ABC News he quit because he "was spending more time managing my account than actually using my account.

    "Having to constantly monitor the privacy settings was way too complicated. You can never be sure you caught everything."

    As a result of the disquiet over Facebook's approach to privacy, a project that is being viewed as an alternative has been getting a lot of attention.

    Diaspora is the brainchild of four students from New York University, which they described as "privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network".

    The students originally set a target to raise $10,000 to get their open source project off the ground over the summer but to date more than 3,300 backers have pledged in excess of $125,000.

    "This is proof that people are scared and they don't have anywhere to go," Diaspora co-founder Max Salzberg told BBC News.

    "I think a distributed social network is what people want. People value all their information online and we want to put users back in control of what they share."

    HAVE YOUR SAY Why do they have to keep messing with something that works just fine as it is Capella, UK

    Diaspora is just one of many other alternatives to Facebook starting to spring up that includes OneSocialWeb, Elgg and Appleseed.

    Security upgrades

    On the same day as the all-hands meeting at Facebook, the company launched new security measures to battle spam and other malicious attacks.

    The upgrades include being able to approve the devices users commonly use to log in and being notified when that account has been accessed via a device that has not been approved. Another feature is giving users the ability to block suspicious logins before they happen.

    "We're confident that these new tools and systems will do a lot to prevent unauthorised logins and the nuisance they can cause," said Lev Popov, a software engineer on Facebook's site integrity team.

    "As always, though, the first line of defence is you. We need you to help by practicing safe behaviour on Facebook and wherever you go online."
    Story from BBC NEWS:
    BBC News - Facebook downplays privacy crisis meeting

    Published: 2010/05/14 08:15:18 GMT
     
  3. mushroom

    mushroom TRIBE Member

    Why Facebook is losing its friends

    By Antonia Zerbisias
    Feature Writer
    Thousands of Facebook users are planning to “defriend’’ the $24 billion social media corporation on Monday, May 31.

    That’s because they’re concerned not only about privacy and protecting their online identities, but also because Facebook is attempting profit from their personal data.

    They’re worried that, while users playing the popular Facebook game Farmville, just to name one example, marketers are plowing through their profiles looking for ways to milk user identities.

    Loved Avatar? Listen to K’naan? Like to cook? Planning a vacation?

    Facebook apparently is ready to market that information.

    “Facebook does things with my data that they wouldn’t do with me as a physical person and I think that’s a very dangerous road to go down,’’ says Toronto design strategist Matthew Milan, co-founder of QuitFacebookDay.com.

    QuitFacebookDay.com went online May 12 and, as of late yesterday afternoon, had attracted some 6,200 committed quitters. Facebook itself has about 500 million users.

    Tech sites such as Gizmodo, Mashable and Wired — not to mention the Columbia Journalism Review — have all chimed in on the privacy complaints in recent days.

    “People get hurt,’’ explains web technologist Joe Dee, Milan’s partner in QuitFaceBookDay.com. “It’s one of those things that you don’t think about until somebody near you gets really burned — until you get one of these stories that your friend got fired, or a relationship got destroyed or somebody has been stalked, or one of these worst-case scenarios — you won’t understand the implications of sharing that much.’’

    To avoid their data being mined, users have to click as many as 170 buttons to change Facebook’s latest default settings.

    Even then, not everything can be hidden. For example, your group memberships are visible to those you “friend.’’ So, if you support a political cause that might create trouble at the office, you are exposed.

    What’s more, at nearly 6,000 words, not counting links, Facebook’s privacy policy is complex.

    The debate over the site’s policies heated up in the last month after Facebook changed its settings — again — while automatically sharing users’ personal information with third parties.

    Which would explain why “delete Facebook’’ and “quit Facebook’’ are trending this week on Google.

    At the same time, tools such as ReclaimPrivacy.org have sprung up to analyze user accounts for privacy problems. On Wednesday, Firefox announced a new app that automatically restores user privacy settings.

    Coincidentally — or not — Facebook announced on Tuesday that it will change its privacy settings to make them “simplistic.’’

    “This should be compared to almost any other company out there where there are no privacy settings at all,’’ said head of public policy Tim Sparapani in a radio interview. “So Facebook should be getting credit here for giving tools in the first place.”

    But, notes Dee, perhaps the pressure is getting to them: “Maybe it’s the message we are sending to them that, coming and unlocking everyone’s door to their home while they’re sleeping isn’t really a nice thing to do.”

    Why Facebook is losing its friends - thestar.com
     

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