Facebook Privacy ? Who Cares?

if you are in the media enough, you recognize that the media lives for the next headline. Facebook Privacy ? What a great headline.  We all care about privacy, right ?

Wrong.  Privacy is a boogie man for the media to play with. Unless you are in the internet business in some manner, where discussing privacy issues with other internet people makes everyone feel like they are part of the “smart people”. Facebook privacy is a media issue (which in turn of course makes it a politicians wet dream), nothing more.

If you join Facebook, by definition you want to give up some of your privacy. You want to share pictures, updates and statuses with friends. You want friends you haven’t seen in a long time to find you.   Items and information that would never see the light of day pre social networks, are now regularly uploaded from our phones. No DRM on those pictures. No requests for DRM on those pictures. No copyright on our status updates. No requests for copyrights on our status updates. Facebook is a social network.  The operative word being social.

Let me put this another way. In every FB profile there is a question called “Interested In”.  You know you answered the question in your profile.  When you tell 500mm people that you are interested in finding  something, friends, business, whatever,  did you really think that only applied to your immediate circle of friends ?  And what about the interests you shared ? Why would you need to share that information to your immediate friends ? They should already know that stuff shouldn’t they ?  When you published your political or music views and interests, you didn’t do that for the benefit of your immediate friends did you ?  Of course not. You did it to expand your circle of friends. If you want to expand your social circle, you need to share information  to people you don’t know.  You can’t share information with strangers in hopes of possibly adding them to your social network and then bitch about the lack of privacy.

The privacy advocates among us would tell us that sharing with friends and even potential friends  is one thing, making it available to everyone  is another.  Well guess what, while FB doesn’t have the equivalent of a Retweet function, it doesn’t have a Muzzle function either.  Facebook can’t control downstream discussions today any better than you could when you told stories to your buddies at the bar the other night.  Whether you like it or not, posting on FB is a publishing function. You are publishing to your “friends” and whether you like it or not, they have every right, opportunity and possibly inclination to share what you say, do and show.

Facebook privacy is very simple at its core. You joined because you wanted to give up some of your privacy in exchange for the benefits that FB offers.  If you think its a problem, de-activate your account.  If you think its a problem, but really want to be on FB, RTFM (Read the Frickin Manual).  The functionality is there. Since when did it become law that software can’t have some level of depth in order to provide the breadth of features and services that all levels of users require ?

The complaints about FB privacy are pretty much a joke.  It’s a social network, not your voting record.

59 thoughts on “Facebook Privacy ? Who Cares?

  1. Question of the day; Why is Facebook valued @ $15B when they could be facing a major class-action lawsuit for failure to offer royalty payment and using others intellectual property; copyrights, logos – without payment OR permission? HMMM ?? Is that Liberty and Justice for all? I don’t think so. Just curious if Mr. Zuckerberg’s attorney’s are up to speed on their E & O policies and installments. HMMM?

    The hippie generation that raised us generation X and paid the expenses for generation X Y Z —now want our Zuckerberg Money!

    “On A date – in the not too distant future; in a land far far away …. creatives and artists from around the globe will gather to say … Happy 70th Birthday Ringo; peace and love to you; and … stay tuned!”

    Mr. Zuckerberg; excuse us but its time to get your paperwork in order and join us for Global Here’s A Pie To Your Face Day; report to your desk and join the Google Boys for a live pie to the face!”

    Global Pie To the Face Days live on youstream will be a rollicking good time !!

    Comment by MediaEngineer -

  2. I made this cause I was frustrated with Facebook’s desire to take any option to pry into my personal life.


    Comment by fenix692 -

  3. I did state that in my post, joes. And actually, it is a right to be a US citizen if you’re born in this country. I feel you’re missing the bigger issue by attacking me specifically. Mark has a more recent post on this issue, and I’ll continue to comment there, and I hope you join me.

    Comment by Matches Malone -

  4. Matches:
    Most people consider, for example, the *right* to not be unlawfully searched or my *right* to not have my phone unlawfully tapped to be classified under *rights to privacy*. Not privileges to privacy. Although it is a privilege to be a US citizen, not a right.

    Comment by joes8888 -

  5. Most of the rights Joes8888 he discusses are actually privileges, and the right to privacy is found nowhere in the Constitution. It is however, implied…. We also have the right to pursue happiness, but nowhere does it guarantee that we’ll be happy. So, if it makes you happy to enforce your alleged rights to privacy, then by all means, quite Fakebook on Monday like most everybody else is.

    And of course, The Zuck won’t care, as most sheeple will blindly signup either again or for the first time on the 1st, and go on their merry way….

    Comment by Matches Malone -

  6. Pingback: Facebook Privacy? Who Cares? I do! | Lloyd's Bllog

  7. Pingback: Facebook and Privacy, a David and Goliath Moment? | Bloggity Blog-Blog

  8. What a shockingly ignorant post.

    People, Americans in particular, lose sight of how precious our fundamental rights are. We lose sight of how practically meaningful these rights are. Rights that are not exercised are lost over time.

    As someone who encourages personal freedom, expression, responsibility, I would encourage everyone to defend the rights we have today, tooth and nail, and fight to extend those we don’t. Don’t just check a box and sign away your privacy. You would be amazed at WHO uses your Facebook information, HOW they use it (photos with dates and places and people and objects, for example…) and for what purpose. And it’s NOT just people trying to sell concert tickets.

    Do some homework.

    Comment by joes8888 -

  9. The problem for me isn’t that Facebook makes information public because you are right: if the idea of sharing information to a potentially large number of people, you shouldn’t be on Facebook.

    However, the problem for me is the constant changing of Facebook’s privacy and content policies. People should indeed know what they are getting themselves into when signing up for Facebook and realize that by doing so, you are giving up some privacy. However, Facebook shouldn’t continuously be changing the way content is displayed. In terms of content, the idea of social networking is to share content, not have the networking platform take over the content people post and use it for advertising purposes of its product. You are right, you should know what you are getting yourself into before signing up and posting anything on Facebook. But when Facebook keeps changing their policies and adding “personalization” features, it becomes increasingly difficult to know what is in the manual, as you put it. And arguably, it isnt what people signed up for in the first place.

    Comment by ablogwithoutaname -

  10. “I do not fear these changes myself, as part of my job involves managing social media on behalf of my employer. The group I fear for is the largest group of Facebook users, the users that are not social media savvy (or technically savvy).”

    This post from above hits the nail on the head. I’ve been on facebook since it first popped up and was college only. My mother, meanwhile has not. She doesn’t get it. To think that she is alone in this is naive. Yea, I can go through the maze of settings and ensure everything is crystal clear safe but most cannot. The constant changes to the settings only furthers the confusion. Eventually, the lack of perceived “safety” is only going to drive away the casual users. Bottom line.

    Comment by Brian S -

  11. I’m wondering if there’ll be a followup post, and Mark will admit that he’s wrong.

    Wait a minute, What am I thinking? 🙂

    Comment by Matches Malone -

  12. Pingback: » Facebook’s step to make privacy settings easier takes away the attention for the real issues - State of Search

  13. Pingback: Your Monday Random-Ass Roundup: She’s Got Legs. « PostBourgie

  14. I honestly don’t see the point of these social networking sites. All they do is get you in trouble. What you post online will and can be held against you. If you’re trying to get a new job, the company you’re interviewing with WILL look you on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

    I just hope people will eventually realize that their private life should remain just that, PRIVATE! If you signup with these crapsites, you will loose whatever privacy you have.

    Why would you want to post pictures of yourself and your family members out on these sites? Why would I care that you had a good dinner or that you’re bored? For real, get a life.

    Comment by hawkman02 -

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  16. I saw a site the other day that matched up mug shots with Facebook profiles (matchmymug.com). Is this a privacy violation? According to them, all of the information is public and easily accessible and all they did was connect the dots.

    These are the privacy things that people are giving up when they choose to post their personal information online there are many things that they don’t think of when they do this that can come back to haunt them. These are the sign of the times and just the tip of the iceberg for what is coming. I don’t think it is really an invasion of privacy if people put things in the public domain that all this.

    Comment by clarkgriswald -

  17. MrDuke2 brings up an interesting point. However, I believe we’re at a stage where we can no longer choose to ignore the pervasive aspects of ‘social media.’ I strongly believe that we should indeed realize that we need to drop the word social, and call it what it is, media.

    Comment by Matches Malone -

  18. Privacy and identity theft are my issue with Facebook and the like. I see no reason to even wade into those waters. The risk/reward is not worth it in my view. But, for others, you are free to take part in the social media. I have no interest. Good luck.

    Comment by mrduke2 -

  19. I think the privacy thing is a non issue for most people. But the fact is that if it gets enough media attention, it will have an effect on their ad revenue.

    Comment by brandonconnell -

  20. Very good points in this article (for example the comments about the media) but also some wrong assumptions. Not everybody shares information to “expand” our circle of friends. Most of us just want to share with our friends only. In any case, that doesn’t give FB the right to send our information to ad networks without telling us, like they’ve recently been caught doing. FB needs to treat its community with respect; after all it is their community, and not the technology, what gives FB its value.

    Comment by shoestringbranding -

  21. Pingback: Facebook Alternatives.org » Mark Cuban: Facebook Privacy? Who Cares?

  22. Seems like a bit of sour grapes. You cheerlead for Facebook, and then it gets slammed with a privacy brouha.

    Told ya, buddy… no social network is built to last. The minute someone promises (not actually delivers, but promises) a more private and secure social networking site, Facebook will be a memory. It doesn’t help that Zuckerberg seems like a degenerate.

    Comment by sinisterx -

  23. Pingback: Privacy: Enough Already | Ephemera

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  26. Mark,

    I think that you assume that people will do the 105 clicks that it takes to modify all of the settings necessary to regain control. My mother, who is 75 joined Facebook to share/see things about her grandkids, do you really thinks she would have the wherewithal to know to RTFM? As a person who knows technology, you have to know that the reason why it is so complex is to keep people from changing these settings so Facebook has more valuable data.

    Having spent too long at a smallish software company (MSFT) I get shocked when I see other companies that treat users’ data as if it is their own. MSFT is the only company I know that doesn’t keep user profiles of search content, in fact they just won’t even think about it. Sure, most likely they are just covering their own assets, however it really helped us win a big mobile search deal with a mobile carrier as they were told by others that the data mining from the queries was where the real value of the deal was.

    I quit Facebook before the press clippings at the last attempt of mining my data and being able to sell it to anyone willing to pay. Call me anti-social, call me silly, however the only thing I truly own in life is my own data about me. Facebook’s offering isn’t valuable enough for me to sell data to allow others to target me with things I don’t even want. If I do decide to sell Mark, you will be the first I call.

    Comment by kkleinsmith -

  27. Different people use Facebook in different ways. What you say here:

    When you published your political or music views and interests, you didn’t do that for the benefit of your immediate friends did you? Of course not. You did it to expand your circle of friends. If you want to expand your social circle, you need to share information to people you don’t know.

    has more relevance to someone like you, with 78,000 “friends,” than it does to someone like me, with more like 200. I actually do know every single person I’m friends with on Facebook. We’re in no way close personal friends, and some are friends of other friends that I’ve met via comment exchanges in our mutual friends’ Facebooks — but I don’t think there’s ANYONE I’m Facebook friends where I couldn’t explain the relationship with a very simple sentence, like “I know her from high school” or “she’s friends with my college roommate.” I’m not interested in becoming Facebook friends with complete strangers; I’m listing the things I’m interested in because I’m interested in them, and want the other people I already know to know that. My very closest friends know what shows I watch, what music I enjoy, and so on; the 180 other people I know on Facebook, the ones I didn’t have a lot of contact with for the 15-20 years between high school/college and today — they don’t know.

    I’m not paranoid or hyper-vigilant about privacy issues in general or on Facebook, but I’m also not happy with the way Facebook has been quietly expanding the number of people who can learn everything about me. I’m not naive enough to think anything said on the internet can ever remain private, but at the same time, social media sites should respect their users’ wishes about how their data is shared. I don’t know if you use Twitter, but how would you feel if you woke up tomorrow to find all your DM’s were now public?

    Comment by researchrants -

  28. Rv52com, must you be so crass?

    Comment by illpoint -

  29. All these comments about a free service you voluntarily use? Wow.

    Comment by rv52com -

  30. While I mostly agree with the premise here, there are two big problems with Facebook’s privacy practices that this post fails to address. First, the implementation of the privacy controls-if you’re gonna give people some control over how your info is spread out through FB, make the controls useable and don’t set them to your advantage by default. FB could just say “anything you put up here will be shared” and not offer any controls, but they are giving their users options, so they need to make them useable and neutral.

    Second is the difference between simply allowing disclosure of info and selling it. Allowing users’ information to be spread around is indeed pretty much the whole reason for FB’s existence, but “social” does not include “commercial”. The blog says:

    “Whether you like it or not, posting on FB is a publishing function. You are publishing to your “friends” and whether you like it or not, they have every right, opportunity and possibly inclination to share what you say, do and show,”

    But Mark fails to mention anything about FB selling my info, either aggregated with others’ or individually, for profit. There is nothing about my reasons for joining FB (or those of most members I expect) that gives anyone the right to say that I’m asking for spam, targeted marketing or other sales pitches based on my info or the “social” conversations I have with friends and other crazy people on FaceBook. Here again, when FB put in the share-my-info-with-marketers feature, they set it on by default…

    Comment by earler -

  31. Pingback: I Don’t Know What I Know… « The Random Rant

  32. Mark hasn’t commented on any of the comments in his inevitable borderline insane style. So, I’m wondering whether this is “Yet another post to stimulate discussion” to get him noticed by other sites, like the last few.

    In any case, I’m thinking AndyBaird is right, while at the same time, he might be wrong. Is it really an HR’s department to find out what I’m like outside of work? If I get all my work turned in on time and under budget, why should it make a difference that I play Farmville at 3a??? It may be an overstep to assume that it’s any of HR’s business what I do in my up to now, free time.

    Of course, I’m an independent contractor, so, my situation may be different. However, as my Fakebook account is not used for anything other than connecting with people that I may or may not know IRL, does it matter who they are? Is it any business of the world at large to know these things?

    Apparently, I’ve just convinced myself that Fakebook has indeed overstepped….

    Have fun owning this, Mark.

    Comment by Matches Malone -

  33. Pingback: Facebook Privacy ? Who Cares? | Mark Cuban | Voices | AllThingsD

  34. The only legitimate angle against this is while Facebook spreading information you willingly shared is similar to saying something to a friend at a bar, your friend is not an automated robot designed to harvest whatever you say and do into a structured format that can be used for some marketer’s campaign.

    Personally, I don’t have a huge problem with this. I’ve always followed a simple rule, way back when Facebook was a college-only website:

    If I don’t want the world to know it, I don’t publish it. In this day and age, operating under any other assumption is stupid — it takes a simple Google search for an HR manager to Google my Facebook account and see what I’m up to — why would I throw something risky on there and lose my job? Everyone should ask themselves that. If you opt-in to facebook, you opt-in to a track record of your public persona. Make sure you represent that like you would in the real world.

    If a website wants to “personalize” itself to my identity, based on my Facebook identity — who cares? How is this likely to be a negative thing to me? As long as I’ve only published information that I want the public to know, do I care whether a website caters it’s content towards my interest? If anything, this sounds more engaging to me as a consumer.

    Comment by andybaird -

  35. Pingback: Facebook Privacy Disaster in 2010 | List of Artiles on Facebook Privacy Issues

  36. Mr. Cuban,

    Sorry off the subject but I recently came acroos your Stimulus Plan and found the blog closed. I wanted the opportunity to inform you that I have an idea for a reality show that would generate viewer ratings that would parallel or surpass the Super Bowl. 50+ percent of viewing households. With ratings like this the dollars figures are self explanatory. I noticed a link in another blog with an email address for you at HD.net and was wondering if I could send you more information? Thanks!

    Comment by marshall8810 -

  37. What a one-sided, bs post.
    I don’t think it’s asking too much to make sure that if I decide to register on a social networking site, I’m not being tracked within an inch of my life.
    And it’s not even my concern that other people can find me as much as knowing Facebook is keeping track of oodles of information about me.
    Sorry to sound like a nut, but when you save that much information about people, it’s only a matter of time before some script kiddie in St. Petersburg breaks into Facebook and steals info.
    Of course, if my net worth was in the 8 figure to 10 figure range, I’m not sure I’d be worried about what the plebes were up to, either.
    And yes, Mark Antoinette, I’ll go eat cake now.

    Comment by rhwalt -

  38. Mark, your argument sounds like the internet equivalent of “if a girl is dressed promiscuously then she’s asking to be raped.”

    This isn’t about a Mom seeing photos of her son drunk and acting stupid. It’s about data being exposed to people who have the technical ability to exploit it i.e. credit card fraud meets Web 2.0.

    I’ve been on Facebook since it was only college students. I’ve always closely monitored my privacy settings, and for a long time it was straight forward and easy to understand, but I’m telling you, the functionality to fully manage your privacy is not there and it’s in no way transparent to even technically proficient users.

    I suggest you ask any developer who works on Facebook applications what type of data they have access too. I’m almost certain you’ll be shocked.

    Sure, people can delete their accounts (not that the data is ever really deleted), but the reason I’m bothering to write this is because I’m tired of seeing the whole privacy problem belittled by blog posts like this.

    I guess I’m one of the hypocritical “complainers” who still has a Facebook account, but I vocalize my complaints because I’m hoping there’s a force in the market that changes all of this for the better, instead of the only solution being me having to remove all of my personal info.

    Seriously, go talk to some Facebook Developers and while you’re at it, why don’t you use your entrepreneurial inclinations to think of ways you could unlawfully exploit seemingly harmless Facebook data for profit.

    Comment by rknotts -

  39. Rule about “social media” and promiscuity

    Don’t post anything about yourself or a “friend” that you would not want your dear old grandmother to see. She’s probably on facebook 😉

    Comment by lancecashion -

  40. Completely agree Mark, the Internet is something that is openly described as something that “interconnects”. If you expect your information to not be found, indexed, cached while in such a public setting, you’re delusional. Even the privacy policies of Facebook are only an attempt at privatizing your information, not a fail safe. Don’t like it, remove yourself from the web and quit complaining.

    Comment by thyland83 -

  41. Pingback: Facebook Privacy ? Who Cares? « blog maverick | Facebook F8

  42. Pingback: Social Milestone » Blog Archive » Facebook Privacy ? Who Cares? « blog maverick

  43. Actually, “voting record” isn’t a good analogy for something that is truly private.

    WHO you voted for is private. WHETHER you vote in any given election is a matter of public record. So is your party affiliation, if you voted in the primary of that party. So is all of your voter registration information.

    Comment by brucetomaso -

  44. Impressive, Mark. You actually got one right 🙂 I’m still concerned about your copyright notice below, as I don’t believe you own the rights to this comment. Explain to me where I’m wrong.

    Comment by Matches Malone -

  45. Hey, the last sentence isn’t a bad idea for an app. With all the politics flying around Facebook anyway, I assume that a “voting record” app would be quite popular. “On this day in 1992, [username] voted for…” Instant hit!

    Comment by authorrobertjoplin -

  46. Pingback: What Facebook Is For | Facebook

  47. Mark, great post. Someone needed to say this so I’m glad you did!

    Comment by Booshaka.com -

  48. I agree that users should pretty much expect that anything they post on Facebook can and will become public, but that’s only because Facebook has been such a crappy proprietor of our data.

    As other commenters have pointed out, Facebook used to protect most of your data from the outside world and non-friends within Facebook. Over the years they have gradually opened the doors to your Facebook data to more and more people. That’s not something we were told was going to happen a few years ago when a lot of Facebook users signed up.

    Comment by chrisltd -

  49. goes back to the rule… don’t buy something you don’t understand… don’t use a technology you don’t understand.

    Comment by lancecashion -

  50. Like others have mentioned above, the issue with Facebook privacy isn’t that certain things aren’t private by default – everyone is used to that – it’s that things that you marked as private previously were turned to public with Facebook’s latest update. That is not an expected behavior.

    That’s not to say that Congress should get involved, but I do think that media coverage of this story is good, as it highlighted the issue to people who otherwise wouldn’t have realized their privacy settings changed.

    Comment by induke -

  51. Privacy and disclosure are huge issues which the average person doesn’t understand. There are dangers from large corporations, corrupt governments, identity thieves, potential employers and personal stalkers. Unlike the old social world, data mining can easily create lists of dissidents to target or homes to rob while people are on vacation.

    Facebook’s move to change people’s privacy settings to totally public unless they dig through 20 menus is a reasonable concern for the media to point out. This could have been avoided by a simple question about whether people wanted their profile to be all public, all private or somewhere in the middle. The original approach of Facebook “networks” was actually a fairly good model. Facebook’s privacy protections and consistent page design helped it slaughter MySpace for market share.

    Defaulting all profiles to public hurts even privacy seeking people as merely associating with a public person could result in an unflattering public picture that could result in suspension or job loss. The media wastes it’s time on all sorts of sensational garbage. Education about the dangers of online promiscuity is a lot more useful.

    Comment by speckk -

  52. A voice of reason amongst the crazy hysteria.

    Great post.

    Comment by dannyjbixby -

  53. The media has become extremely lazy. I’m glad old media is in decline as an industry. Non-reporting and hyper-reality have taken the place of actual event facts.

    At one time in America there were no TV, computers, etc… the family sat around the radio and listened to a commentator describe a baseball game or horse race. The events were communicated in real-time and opinion was secondary.

    Fast forward to today. Opinion is portrayed as fact and the description of actual events is cloaked in misrepresentation.


    Comment by lancecashion -

  54. The issue isn’t privacy, it is Facebook constantly changing the rules in a manner that is difficult to understand, and opening up previously fenced in areas as the default behavior. This is why spam is annoying. Why should you have to opt-out? The damage is already done.

    Comment by strettadotcom -

  55. People! Don’t like your private ideas,thoughts,photos or
    emails on the internet,don’t go on facebook or the net
    for that matter.

    Simple as that.

    Comment by mdgrove500 -

  56. I agree that joining Facebook does mean you are choosing to make certain aspects of your life public, but what I do not agree with is the method in which Facebook privacy settings have been changed over years. I do not fear these changes myself, as part of my job involves managing social media on behalf of my employer. The group I fear for is the largest group of Facebook users, the users that are not social media savvy (or technically savvy).

    Social media is new to our culture and people are vastly unaware of the benefits and dangers of posting information about themselves on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. In the case of Facebook, changes to who can access your information and how they can access it have changed drastically over the years, without the changes being explained to their users in a simple, understandable way and this is dangerous for everyone.

    My recommendation to Facebook when they make changes to user privacy settings, direct all users to a update overview page on their first login after the changes go in place. Explain the changes to users and allow them to opt-in/out of changes via this place, and make them accept the changes before continuing on to Facebook.

    If the users are going to be transparent with their information, Facebook needs to be transparent with how and what they are going to make public about you.

    Comment by jdivosevic -

  57. Interesting angle, but I disagree. Why has Facebook changed its privacy policy so many times since I initially agreed to it in 2007? Certainly, it can’t be because the nature of privacy has remained constant during the last 3 years.

    On this basis, it’s pretty dangerous to speculate about the privacy expectations we had 3 years ago… but it’s a moot point anyway, because those privacy expectations were predicated on the privacy policy used by Facebook when we signed up, and the policy has changed so… maybe expectations have changed too?

    Comment by iandennismiller -

  58. Great points Mark. The facebook issue is another great example of Media either missing the point due to laziness or to ignorance.

    Comment by Geoff -

  59. When you join facebook, you do not “by definition” give up some of your privacy. Suppose you just wanted to share pictures with you, your mom, and your brother in another country. Instead of emailing the pictures back and forth you are now posting them on your facebook. You only friend him so he is the only one that can see them. So this is just private photos right? Wrong, facebook has silently made settings public by default. The configuration for privacy is extremely convoluted in the name of granularity.

    Whats next privacy in an email sent to your girlfriend is “a joke”? Will Google start silently defaulting options of your email to public as facebook did with their profiles? I don’t think you would be writing about that in this fashion.

    Comment by illpoint -

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