Home > Topical > The Problem of Facebook

The Problem of Facebook

I don’t think it can be ignored any longer: Facebook has serious privacy issues and Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t really care. Gizmodo has a list of the “Top Reasons You Should Quit Facebook” and another list of “More Reasons You Should Still Quit Facebook” and all of them are exceedingly valid.

My beef with Facebook is threefold.

First, privacy doesn’t mean anything to them. Zuckerberg has gone on the record as saying that social norm of people openly sharing thing justifies Facebook not safeguarding privacy and is actively teaching developers how to access your data while not publicizing changes in their Terms of Service, which have 1300 more words than the US Constitution minus amendments. The EFF has a great timeline of how Facebook’s privacy policy has evolved over time.

Then there’s the Open Graph API and the flirtatious period with frames. I am a big advocate of open standards and despite the name, Open Graph is neither open nor graph and barely counts as an API. This is something that will only work on Facebook. And let’s not get into the whole frames issue. That really makes me rage-y.

Finally, Mark Zuckerberg is not the kind of guy I want having access to my data. He has a purported history of using Facebook data for personal gain and settled a lawsuit out of court that purported that he had stolen the idea for Facebook. Additionally, an IM conversation that speaks towards a prevailing attitude that privacy is taken lightly among the brass at Facebook. Nevermind the fact that Facebook obfuscates what their ToS actually allows, while paying lip service to transparency in official statements like this one:

“Mark really does believe very much in transparency and the vision of an open society and open world, and so he wants to push people that way. I think he also understands that the way to get there is to give people granular control and comfort. He hopes you’ll get more open, and he’s kind of happy to help you get there. So for him, it’s more of a means to an end. For me, I’m not as sure.”
–Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO – source

It’s easy to see why ideas like Diaspora* are generating buzz these days.

All that said, Facebook isn’t likely to go anywhere anytime soon and a lot of people seem to be at a loss for how to communicate without it. Whitson Gordon posted some great ideas on Lifehacker about to get yourself out of Facebook without actually deleting your Facebook profile. One thing I might add to Mr. Gordon’s suggestions as a way of bypassing Facebook is to watch your newsfeed through something like TweetDeck. It definitely cuts down on the third parties that have access to your info and makes it easier to avoid the distraction that is Farmville.

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Categories: Topical
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  1. 3 June 2010 at 1:27 pm

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