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Why Facebook Won't Stop Invading Your Privacy 219

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the up-and-to-the-right dept.
GMGruman writes "Every few weeks, it seems, Facebook is caught again violating users' privacy. A code error there, rogue business partners there. The truth, as InfoWorld's Bill Snyder explains, is that Facebook will keep on violating your privacy, no matter what its policies say, what promises it makes, or how shocked it claims to be at the latest incident. The reason is simple: Selling personal information on its users is how it makes money, and Facebook is above all a business."
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Why Facebook Won't Stop Invading Your Privacy

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  • Well, duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:37AM (#33974228)
    Selling personal information on its users is how it makes money, and Facebook is above all a business.

    Why is this news? Nothing to see here, move on please...
  • Don't use Facebook (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:41AM (#33974286)

    It is really quite easy. Many of us get along quite nicely not using Facebook.

  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:45AM (#33974332)

    If you're not paying for the service, you are the product, not the customer.

  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gorzek (647352) <[gorzek] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:48AM (#33974378) Homepage Journal

    ...water is wet, the sky is blue, and Elvis is still dead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:49AM (#33974392)

    I'm sure this will be an unpopular post, but Facebook is NOT violating privacy.

    Really, if you post something on the internet and expect it to be private, you are an idiot. You can't reasonably expect privacy on someone else's servers. Once you release information in the wild, you have no control over what happens to it. None. Those privacy settings mean jack shit. They are only veils. In fact, those privacy settings aren't even guaranteed.

    If you don't want people to know something about you, don't post it on the internet. It really is THAT simple. If you don't want the evidence to make it to your wife, your boss, or whatever, don't put that evidence in an archivable medium AT ALL. And lastly, if you don't like the way Facebook uses your information, DON'T USE THE GOD DAMN SITE. If you aren't using it, they can't "violate" your "privacy."

  • No one cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RazorSharp (1418697) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:50AM (#33974402)

    And that's what's so sad about this. When friends encouraged me to get on Facebook I told them about the profit model and why they shouldn't contribute to it, but they all had the same response, "who cares?" It was hard enough for them to understand why their personal information would even be profitable in the first place, but for them to actually care was impossible. Lets face it, Facebook users have the same view of privacy Zuckerberg has: they don't value it and they don't understand why anyone would (unless, of course, they had something to hide).

    I value my privacy and I find Facebook to be the finest example of everything that is wrong with capitalism. But that's why I'm here on Slashdot and not there.

  • by technomom (444378) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:51AM (#33974420)
    Really successful businesses are able to make you pay for the service, PLUS sell your data (or eyeballs). See the publishing industry (up until about 1999) and television.
  • by kheldan (1460303) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:51AM (#33974434) Journal
    If you actually use your real name and personal information on any social networking site, then you are an idiot, plain and simple. You may not even be able to exercise damage control at this point by erasing everything and deleting accounts; it's all still out there somewhere and someone has it -- and in many cases, it's people you never even met in person who you allowed on your friends list in the neverending quest to have more "friends" than your buddies do.
    I already know I'm going to get modded down to -1, Troll or -1, Flamebait for posting this, but you can't escape the cold hard truth that so many of you have not been wise, and now you're paying the price.
  • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:54AM (#33974464)

    I'm sure this will be an unpopular post, but Facebook is NOT violating privacy.

    Really, if you post something on the internet and expect it to be private, you are an idiot. You can't reasonably expect privacy on someone else's servers. Once you release information in the wild, you have no control over what happens to it. None. Those privacy settings mean jack shit. They are only veils. In fact, those privacy settings aren't even guaranteed.

    If you don't want people to know something about you, don't post it on the internet. It really is THAT simple. If you don't want the evidence to make it to your wife, your boss, or whatever, don't put that evidence in an archivable medium AT ALL. And lastly, if you don't like the way Facebook uses your information, DON'T USE THE GOD DAMN SITE. If you aren't using it, they can't "violate" your "privacy."

    Bullshit. When you do online banking, you expect your information to remain private. When you click a box on Facebook that claims to protect your privacy, it dammed well better.

  • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RazorSharp (1418697) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:00PM (#33974574)

    Nothing and no one should have first amendment restrictions.

    FIRE!!!!!!!!!

    Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, @11:51AM(#33974432) rapes babies and strangles puppies!

    The military is conducting an operation at coordinates x-y at 11:00AM (EST) on October 22.

    Corporations funneling money into political campaigns are merely expressing their political opinions!

    Need any other examples?

  • Re:No one cares (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:04PM (#33974624)

    If Facebook is the best example of everything that's wrong with capitalism, capitalism would appear to be a pretty good system. I doubt socialism is an inherently privacy-valuing system... it would seem to me that for a socialistic model to work, more of your privacy would have to be violated?

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:11PM (#33974742)

    Why? Your name is generally a matter of public record. It's not private. Pretty much the opposite, in fact.

    If you post any actual private information on a social networking site then you're taking a risk. You might be an idiot, or you might have weighted the costs and benefits and made an informed decision.

  • Re:No one cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc...paradise@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:14PM (#33974796) Homepage Journal

    Lets face it, Facebook users have the same view of privacy Zuckerberg has: they don't value it and they don't understand why anyone would (unless, of course, they had something to hide).

    And they're 100% right -- for if they do not see value in their privacy, then their privacy has no value.

    For those whose privacy does have value - they'll do as you do, and avoid Facebook et al entirely.

  • Re:No one cares (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:15PM (#33974808) Journal

    Even the private messages that go between you and someone else on Facebook are still technically posted "To Facebook" so it is "Facebooks Data" and within "Facebooks Data collection" and permissable for them to sell or do whatever they want to.

    But that's not really the thing. Your name IS private. When there are only two parties involved, yourself and someone else, and they ask you your name, you can choose not to disclose that information. This is where aliases online became popular to help anonymize people. Facebook discourages anonymizing and wants to identify people, makes it easier to aggregate their data.

    When I log onto facebook and when my girlfriend log onto facebook, we'll see different advertisements. Why is that? Clearly they've collected enough information on me to know that I like video games and she likes Jewelry. Simple enough matter - perhaps thats just gender profiling? Well when I log on compared to my brother, I see ads for MMO's, he sees advertisements for sports and poker.

    The point is that basically all the stuff about you, even stuff you don't generally make public - ends up getting grouped together into a profile that gets sold to advertisers so you are constantly bombarded by the stuff you are most likely to buy. Just by creating that profile, and then clicking on certain links - that info gets put to work profiling you. Hey, you like Mafia Wars? This kid probably likes the idea of Gangs and guns. Lets grab some related clothing and see if he clicks on the ad that says SALE!

    Then, when someone messages you "Hey, whats your Phone #?" Facebook gets that info. When someone asks "Hey where's your house again?" They get your address. "Whats your email?" - yada yada yada.

    The big fear everyone has is that this will go much farther reaching than advertising. Oh hey, you were looking up medical conditions, you have a self diagnosis app on facebook... Health Insurance company buys the info... Oh look your premiums are going to go up, they suspect you might have something. You came down with something? Well theres some searches you made 5 years ago that suggests it might have been present before buying the insurance, so no payout.

    Things like that.

  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:19PM (#33974890)

    I am cynical, but if a site comes along that does respect user privacy, they won't make the ad revenue, unless other funding is obtained.

    FB does not make a dime from the people who have accounts with them, other than the gift services. The real customers are the advertisers and the developers like Zygna. To FB, account-holders are considered whining maggots, a necessary evil so advertisers can be handed their information and in return, hand FB cash.

    TANSTAAFL. Want to know how to change this? Have a social networking site paid for by either subscription fees, or by grants from governments/universities/funds in return for privacy/security guarantees of user data?

  • Re:hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkOx (621550) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:20PM (#33974896) Journal

    Freedom of speech is about expressing beliefs and opinions and facts, that is what the ruling about "FIRE" is all about you are not free to tell blatant false hoods when they could case clear and present danger. This is also how liable, defamation, and slander laws are still permissible.

    Beyond this there is no reason to curb freedoms of speech. The whole corporate campaign donations thing is a red herring. That ruling in and of it self is correct. The problem there if you will is the legal fiction that corporations are people and therefore can hide behind the bill of rights in the first place. Corporations are nothing like people:

    they don't die eventually as people do

    you can't jail them when the misbehave

    because their size, wealth, and resources vary so widely as compared with individuals they don't have an equal sensitivity to fines and other defined civil penalties.

    If you want to fix this country (USA) for real one place to start would be getting rid of the legal fiction corporations are people, drafting up a fare corporate bill of rights, which might leave some limitations on things like speech.

     

  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ash Vince (602485) * on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:39PM (#33975186) Journal

    Agreed. Facebook won't give up invading users' privacy until they get replaced by a site that cares about user privacy. And I can guarantee that that caring attitude will last precisely long enough to bury Facebook as a competitor before they start doing exactly the same thing. Users just have to accept they can have privacy or Facebook, but not both.

    I don't think this is limited to facebook.

    Our privacy has been successively eroded over the past 20 years since companies realised how valuable information about their customers could be. We have gained many "free" services as a result of this that we otherwise would have had to pay for, but we have don so under the small print proviso that we would be allowing them to make money by selling information gleaned from watching us.

    Even before the current days of the web customer loyalty cards were built on this premise. They could give us a small discount on our shopping in return for the data they could gather on us as a result of us identifying ourselves every time we purchased something.

    The only way facebook would ever be overtaken by another company that did not behave this way would be if people cared enough to leave because of it, I have sneaky feeling that most people do not.

  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by idontgno (624372) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:42PM (#33975230) Journal

    That's an unfortunate chain of events. When you explain the facts and the "OMG, they're hacking my bank accounts" panic fades away, the truth winds up seeming a lot less grim. People may not be able to work up the appropriate levels of concern. Relief you haven't been shot may keep you from reacting to the fact you're being robbed.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:44PM (#33975256)
    Since people keep using it, they're sending the message that they don't care about invasions of privacy. It's not too hard to figure out how to avoid this invasion: don't use the site.
  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X_Bones (93097) <danorz13 AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:48PM (#33975322) Homepage Journal
    I can't seem to get it to stick...

    you can lead a brain to knowledge but you can't make it think.
  • by Americano (920576) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:34PM (#33976070)

    Oh and by the way: if you REALLY feel that way about it, then why not put up live internet cameras in your bedroom so we can watch you have sex with your wife? After all, you have nothing to hide and you honestly don't care with what anyone does with your personal information, right?

    Funny thing is, GP didn't say he "had nothing to hide" - he said that the stuff he posts on facebook isn't that private anyway, and he doesn't care that it's up there, or that Facebook knows it. He didn't say "I post every detail of my life there," he said "I don't care if people know the details I do post up there."

    There's worlds of difference between "I don't care that Facebook knows I like golf (but suck at it), have half a dozen friends who live in New York City, and like rock and alt-country music, and uses that knowledge to display advertisements I might be interested in seeing based on those interests." and "I don't care if Facebook films me having sex with my wife and posts that up on facebook.com/bobsmith_porking_lisajones/livestream, and uses it to sell male enhancement products and plastic surgery."

    Reasonable people are able to draw the distinction between these two scenarios. You seem to have missed the distinction. Conclusions that may be drawn from these facts are left as an exercise to the reader. The rule to keep in mind on Facebook is: don't post it if you consider it private information.

  • by Evro (18923) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .namffohdnave.> on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:57PM (#33976606) Homepage Journal

    You put your data on its server for the purpose of sharing it with others. Any expectation of "privacy" on a system designed to share information seems misinformed, especially when all that information is further shared with third parties (apps) over whom Facebook has no control. You might reasonably expect your FB inbox to be private but that's about the only type of information on the entire site that isn't "shareable."

    Plus, if you're not accessing a service exclusively over SSL, do you really care how private the data is that you're transmitting?

  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rochberg (1444791) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:26PM (#33977178)
    "If you aren't paying for the product, you are the product." (I wish I could claim credit for the quote, but I can't. And I've heard it from so many sources that I don't know the origin.)
  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:40PM (#33977430)

    TANSTAAFL. Want to know how to change this? Have a social networking site paid for by either subscription fees, or by grants from governments/universities/funds in return for privacy/security guarantees of user data?

    How is it I've spent nearly 4 decades being spoon fed ads through the boob tube's one-way conduit? You can have ads without obtaining personal information. Granted, marketers prefer more data. This goes double for the marketers of data to other marketers. A site that does not collect personal information and is technically and ethically prevented from such (or made much more difficult and less profitable) would be and will be a good thing. Google chose to buy Doubleclick so we know their choice.

  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nedwidek (98930) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @03:18PM (#33978020)

    Advertisers are not handed the information. Advertisers specify the characteristics of the user they'd like to advertise to. I helped a friend advertise her bistro. We said who we'd like to show the ad to. Facebook then said how many people it was shown to each day, but never who. For all I know they could have lied on the number and charged her credit card anyway, but her fan count definitely took off quicker with the advertising and business went up. Was it the advertising onFacebook? It appears so, but I can't prove it.

    As for application developers, of which I am one... Please tell me how you expect the social aspects of the games are supposed to work if I CAN'T pull information? Sure you can lock everything down. These are the same people who can't lock their account down. They're going to bitch when things don't just work in the games because they can't figure out how to open them up.

    Here's what I tell people: If you don't want it known, don't tell it to Facebook. Belong to the Church of Satan, but don't want people to know? Don't put it in your profile. And maybe take 10 minutes to go through the privacy controls they're not that hard.

    Still don't like it? Don't open a damned account. It's nice that you put up solutions, but the possibility of any of those happening is zero to nil.

  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @05:47PM (#33980180) Journal

    Email is effectively public, unless you encrypt it. Don't fool yourself. The law is increasingly treating email like post cards, where there's no expectation of privacy for the contents.

    And your banking history is an open book to the government, and (especially for credit cards) plenty of personal info is sold to marketers, unless you carefully opt out (and even so, some stuff goes to the credit agencies). And, of course, if you don't encrypt your session with your bank, your money WILL get stolen. Encyption provides most of your (transactional) banking security.

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