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Facebook Throws Privacy Advocates a Bone 126

sarysa writes "In response to a week-long assault by privacy advocates, and following a well publicized all-hands meeting, Facebook has introduced two new security features in response to privacy concerns. One feature allows users to whitelist devices associated with a Facebook account, and the other allows users who verify their identity to view previous logins. While both are useful features, they do nothing to address the recent privacy complaints."
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Facebook Throws Privacy Advocates a Bone

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  • Throws them "a bone" or "the bone?"
  • What??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:34PM (#32220336)

    This isn't a bone.. its not even scraps, its more like the leftover grease from a Macdonalds happy meal.

  • Red herring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:35PM (#32220346)

    is an idiomatic expression the purpose of which is to divert the audience from the truth or an item of significance. For example, in mystery fiction, an innocent party may be purposefully cast as highly suspicious through emphasis or descriptive techniques; attention is drawn away from the true guilty party.
    How is this any different than my bank forcing me to get an 'authorization code' via Text every time I login with a computer that doesn't have their cookie set?

    The ninth highest search on Google is "delete facebook account []"

    Looks like the house of cards is starting to crumble. I know it's stupid, but maybe if they kept it simple like back in the day.... (Although I love the API for batch uploading photos [])

  • Non Sequitur (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sexybomber ( 740588 ) <boccilino&gmail,com> on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:38PM (#32220358)
    The result of this will be very telling. If the firestorm over Facebook's privacy settings dies down after they roll out two features that have absolutely nothing to do with the problems people had with them, then people are even bigger sheep than I thought they were. I weep for the future of civilization.
    • Re:Non Sequitur (Score:5, Informative)

      by dontmakemethink ( 1186169 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:55PM (#32220516)
      Well we're talking about people who run scripts taken from Facebook pages promising them a $100 Walmart card, then when the card doesn't arrive, they make a group slagging Walmart for being dishonest, all the while not realizing it was a scam all along, Walmart had nothing to do with it, and their Facebook info is pwned. Last I saw before it was taken down, the anti-Walmart group had 78,000+ fans. The ENTIRE purpose of Facebook is to sell as much of your identity as they legally can. The more of your identity they can convince you to agree to share, the more money they make. Knowing this, I am still a Facebook user since I actually get most of my freelance work by following the actions of my peers and seeing when they're in the market for my services. For me it's definitely worth it to stay on my toes and maintain as much privacy as I can, but for most it's a trap with potentially dire consequences.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mmaniaci ( 1200061 )
        I pity the fool who depends on Facebook for his well-being.
      • Re:Non Sequitur (Score:4, Interesting)

        by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @03:11PM (#32221396)

        The "$100 Walmart Gift Cards" have been around as long as I can remember. They fall under the same category as the "Free iPods" thing that went around the internet in 2003-2005.*

        Facebook is now a popular website, so of course advertisers are going to target them. If you really want to see how targeted they can make ads, go create your own on facebook. [] I'm using it to recruit for our Rugby team. I can target gender, age, interests, geographical area (and radius), etc.

        *My first 'nice' camera was a Canon SD 550 that I got for free, I got one for my girlfriend at the time. I got 8 iPods for free (used one and sold off the rest). My parents have a MacMini I got for free. My main TV is a 37" 720p Samsung I got for free. I've gotten the $100 Walmart gift cards before.

        You just have to read ALL the fine print and make sure you follow the rules/directions to the letter. Cancel any offers you set up (or use a disposable credit card number like I did).

  • by Rand310 ( 264407 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:38PM (#32220362)
    When you white-list your computer, the suggestions are something like "my home computer", and "office computer 1", and "vacation computer". This simply provides facebook with even more personal information to use in targeted advertising. If anything, though this does enhance security, it is at the expense of even more of the user's privacy.
  • by Protonk ( 599901 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:39PM (#32220376) Homepage
    Insofar as those two things are separate. Both of these measures are security measures. The former a convenience measure designed hopefully to get people to use better passwords in exchange for not having to remember them on a half dozen mobile devices. The latter for damage control of sorts.

    The fundamental problem remains: facebook's founder and corporate elite have a specific interpretation of privacy, identity and self. Their service is built around this interpretation and so their users are forced to share it, operationally. That is the problem which eats away at the core of facebook. Small feature changes only shore up the edges.
    • by ihatewinXP ( 638000 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @01:10PM (#32220594)

      I actually find this good news as I was worried there for a minute that Facebook was actually 'getting it' finally and was going to revamp its privacy policies in wake of all of the nasty criticism and high profile people leaving the site. Projects like Diaspora* [] can hopefully fill in the gaps that Facebook seems oblivious to. I have heard the criticisms that Diaspora* will be only for the technically adept - but I can see companies popping up to fill in the gaps if the market arises.

      "The Network Effect" makes FB place incredibly useful and of course power users can wade through everything and get some decent privacy from the service - but I long for the day when that site is clearly in a myspace-esqe death spin as normal users start fleeing for better alternatives. It is the net; everything dies, so it goes. No juggernaut (AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, Napster, Myspace....) has been able to tame it. Facebook will be no different - and all the faster with their current disregard for their userbase.

      • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @03:16PM (#32221424)

        Diaspora's main faults.

        1) The name. MySpace. FaceBook. LinkedIn. Diaspora. Orkut. Which two don't belong?
        2) They don't have a product. All they did was raise capital. The least they should have done would be to make a mockup or a working website.

        All they really need, from me, to be a success is an easy way to upload photos, a way to tag people in photos and a way to share photos with people not on diaspora.

      • by Daengbo ( 523424 )

        Call me when Diaspora has released something. They claim to have code, but they've forgotten that open source means "release early, release often" in Romulan. Skip that, even if they release code, still don't call me if it's P2P (as I understand is their plan) since

        • No normal person wants to set up a node on his computer; and
        • Social networks need to have access to information even when your computer is off.

        I asked the devs over at OneSocialWeb (which have an actual, working product) if they had tried to conta

        • by coaxial ( 28297 )

          No normal person wants to set up a node on his computer; and
          Social networks need to have access to information even when your computer is off.

          And that's exactly why they're creating a hosting service ala as well.

          • by Daengbo ( 523424 )

            So ... Diaspora is opposed to S2S and going to be P2P, but they offer hosting. Hmm. I don't get it. Good luck to them, though.

            • by coaxial ( 28297 )

              What's not to get? If I don't want run my own node, so I get them to run it for me. If I want to run my own node, I can. The nodes talk to each other in a P2P fashion. In the degenerate case, all the nodes talk to each other on the same physical machine.

    • [quote]That is the problem which eats away at the core of facebook. [/quote]

      "Eats away at the core?" What specifically is the core and what is it that's getting eaten away? Privacy? The whole notion of Facebook is that you share information about yourself with other people. It is by its nature an collectivized exercise in voluntary and controlled loss of privacy. The question marks are the "voluntary" and the "controlled," but not really because you always have the choice _not to use Facebook_ or in the alt
      • Social vulnerabilities don't have to be 'interesting' for them to be worth manipulating. Embarassing revelations don't have to be 'interesting' for them to be embarassing.

        What's with the monospace font?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by schmidt349 ( 690948 )

          If you can think of a way to "manipulate" or embarrass me because I like Into Thin Air and How to Train Your Dragon, then go nuts. You could maybe tell my DGS about the children's movie but he'll probably just ask me if his kids will like it. You know how nine year-olds are (the kids, not the DGS).

          Your world is paranoid, hostile, and generally malevolent. That tells me a lot more about you than your Facebook profile would have.

          Font was a screwup (selected Extrans by mistake).

      • The core of Facebook is its userbase. GP claims people are leaving as a result of the loss of privacy.

      • by Protonk ( 599901 )
        Meaning that the problem is central to the nature of the beast. If you take issue with facebook's privacy conventions, adjustment of various settings isn't going to cut it. I didn't say it would doom fb. This privacy thing will get a lot of people to cancel accounts, but you aren't going to see a real exodus until something new comes along, and I don't think that will happen for a while.

        As for the solutions you mention, sure. You can leave facebook just like you can leave google. But I'm not interes
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I agree -- FB making some big hoopla about a couple of 'security' issues they're implementing is just smoke and mirrors. Security and Privacy can be interrelated but they are most definitely not interchangeable. It's sad when tech media writers cannot distinguish between the two and so easily fall into such an obvious ploy.

  • They're good moves, don't get me wrong, but I'm more worried about all of the privacy data flying around to who-knows-where. Was anyone complaining about how a friend took their phone and logged into Facebook to look at their Friends' vacation photos? If someone hacks my account that's a completely separate issue.
  • wha? (Score:1, Troll)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

    Facebook is so 3 years ago. People still use it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by epte ( 949662 )

      What do you use instead?

      • Re:wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @01:03PM (#32220548)

        Email, a blog and - if just for photos - Picasa; all freely available from Google...

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          google, the company that knows you searched for "gay bars in Atlanta", "hurts when I pee", "red spots on penis" and "free vd clinic atlanta" all within the last week?
          • by Imrik ( 148191 )

            At least Google is only using that data themselves rather than selling it to anyone and everyone. (at least for now)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          And really, we should all be able to just use any blog with syndication for this purpose. Just give your URL to anyone who you want to 'follow' you. Protect it if that's not everyone. Perhaps what we need is some sort of standard for mixing RSS and certificate authentication?

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward


    • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

      Seven puppies were harmed during the making of this post.

      I love puppies...and only 140 calories per serving.

  • Is Facebook toast? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @01:05PM (#32220556)

    The morning drive-time radio DJ I listen to (Rod Ryan in Houston) did a segment yesterday on how people were fleeing Facebook due to privacy concerns. He interviewed his own interns who all said the same thing "I've shut down my Facebook account. I'm not going back there." (or words to that effect).

    When it breaks to the mainstream press that Facebook is bleeding subscribers, when even the morning DJ runs a long segment on the problems with Facebook and talking about how to go about leaving Facebook, then I'm prompted to ask - Is Facebook toast?

    More down to earth - Was that DJ right? Is Facebook losing huge numbers? Is there any way to know for sure?

    • by junglebeast ( 1497399 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @01:14PM (#32220632)

      I think a lot of people are angry. At this point a lot of people are revolting by using fake names, or putting less info in their profile. But you can't really leave it yet because the social connections it provides are useful even if you hate it. I think that people are just waiting for something better to come along, and when that thing comes, it will give Facebook a run for its money and force them to either change their ways or lose the battle. Remember when Facebook took over myspace? The same can happen again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        This. I nuked pretty much everything but friend lists and an email address, but one does not turn away from a total monopoly overnight. I can count on one hand the number of people I know who don't have facebook (and consider that unlike most situations, the set of people I know is actually quite relevant here)

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        a lot of people are revolting

        I agree entirely.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IANAAC ( 692242 )

      More down to earth - Was that DJ right? Is Facebook losing huge numbers? Is there any way to know for sure?

      If you're on Facebook, there's a really easy way to tell: Have any of your friends dropped off?

      I can say that none of my friends or family have, and every single one of them is aware of the privacy issues that have been talked about. It's in the mainstream news, after all.

      Until there's an easy way for them to migrate to another service - and when I say easy, I mean an easy way to move all thei

    • When the number 1 search on google is "How Do I delete my facebook account" you know that facebook is hurting.

      You can test this by typing "How Do I" on google.

      I'd say that these privacy concerns are hurting them, especially since the whole point of facebook was originally privacy. The bait and switch just doesn't work these days.

      I'm glad I never opened a facebook account...

  • Did they claim that these two *security* features were in response to the privacy concerns? Or did speculation make that connection? I agree that there are privacy problems, but unless they claim that this is in response to those concerns, don't assume that they are.

    • As far as I can tell, this is just speculation on the part of the article author. I don't see any mention of privacy on the Facebook blog post. I didn't hear anything about privacy when I first heard this story on NPR yesterday either.

  • by wbren ( 682133 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @01:10PM (#32220598) Homepage

    In response to concerns about its exploding car engines, a major car manufacturer has added additional cup holders to its vehicles.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Funny how Facebook implements these new security measures when most of the uproar has been over privacy issues relating to changes in their terms of service (changes which were made without user consent or re-agreement).

    Seems like an attempt at misdirection to me.
  • One of my friends showed me this project. It looks promising. []

    Essentially, a peer to peer open source social network

    • Is it going to be usable by people who don't leave their computers on 24/7? And I noticed the phrase "pgp" in the description. While I agree this is the right way to do it in abstract, I question if it will be too complex for the average person to care enoug hto bother with.

    • The sad thing about Diaspora is that --right now-- they come across as so incredibly geeky. The only 'salespitch' that's accessible to general users is that startup venture pitch, which isn't exacly aimed at normal would-be users.

      I just hope they can get this thing off the ground while, so to speak, staying under the radar until they have something that's presentable. Otherwise they'll scare folk away instead of attracting them.

      Good luck, guys!

  • by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @02:27PM (#32221140) Homepage

    I didn't "quit"[*] because I was afraid my data was being leaked to my phone. I "quit" because it was being leaked across the whole goddamn Internet. This move is beyond worthless, and shows just how Zuck doesn't get it.

      [*] No one really quits. They just "deactivate," while facebook keeps all your data. Remember when Facebook said that users owned their own data [], yet never provided a way to completely delete it, nor export it []? Talk is cheap. Platitudes even cheaper. Code is law [].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cymbeline ( 1792306 )
      There is an option beyond deactivating: []. That is what I've done, but I haven't confirmed whether or not they have erased all my data. And yes, that link was rather difficult to find. I was first tricked into deactivating my account when I attempted to delete it. In addition, you are completely right about exporting. It took me around an hour to download and save each individual photo I had.
    • Oh, he get's it all right. He's just of a different opinion than most of us here.

  • They don't get it (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "It's clear that despite our efforts, we are not doing a good-enough job [of] communicating the changes that we're making," Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy at Facebook said to the New York Times.

    No. You're not getting it.

    If people disagree with what you're doing, it's not a question of your needing to communicate better.

  • This is not a "bone for privacy advocates." It's a tiny, insignificant little thing that changes nothing and barely warrants an update on the Facebook site. So why do all these trivial little details become Slashdot news worthy?

    Don't get me wrong, I am glad that Slashdot does keep me up to date with the more critical Facebook changes, but I find it a bit pathetic that Slashdot users feel the need to use the news literaly as a changelog for Facebook.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hah, so i just tried to log in to Facebook to tell my friends about this, and now Facebook requires me to "Register this computer" in order to continue. No option to do otherwise. All you can do is click on the facebook logo, which then asks for your password again. SO now I can't use facebook at all unless I "register my computer".

    Zuckerberg is a Bitch.

    And whats with verifying your identity? I mean, aren't my 100 friends enough verification? Who needs my verification?

  • So essentially they are selling one feature to lower your privacy, and one to guarantee uniqueness (veeery useful for advertisers) as “more privacy”.

    That is spin doctor masters’ class stuff right there.
    Unfortunately they are not actual masters, as it’s in-you-face obvious that it’s fucked up.
    Should have asked the MAFIAA instead of Glenn Beck for advice. ^^

  • by CuteSteveJobs ( 1343851 ) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @05:09PM (#32222082)
    Zuckenberg's strategy on privacy has long been to do something, see what the reaction is, then peddle backwards or forwards as appropriate. Then do it again. Creeping forward while they're not looking has worked brilliantly for Google. I hate the idea of their recording my search history and scanning my e-mail, but slowly I've learned (unwisely?) to trust them and so while those things bother me still, they don't bother me so much as they used to.

    Look at Google's recent scanning of Wireless networks from the Streetview cars. Supposedly this was an accident. Oh LOL. But if they do it again in a few years maybe by then people won't mind. [] In most countries we even accept Google peeping over our fences, literally! When this news broke I remember some people (who presumably weren't employed by Google) vigorously defending Google's rights to do this: the public screaming for less privacy. []

    We shot the messenger when Scott McNeally said we had no privacy - get over it, but he knew what we didn't: Never stand between a corporation and a pot of money.
    • Hit the nail on the head my friend.

    • by Klinky ( 636952 )

      The whole wifi-snarfing things is overblown. You're broadcasting on public airwaves, anyone can collect your encrypted or unencrypted data. Also streets are public, anyone can walk down them and take a picture. People are concerned over the massive scale that Google does it on. Never the less, it's public data and who know how this public data might be useful on a massive scale. It's not as though Google is barging into your home to street map it, nor does it appear they were running massively parallel crac

      • No one ever said what Google was doing is illegal. They're too bright for that, and the law hasn't caught up with them. Two hundred years ago if you wanted a private conversation you went behind the barn. These days there are snooping and roving eyes, ears and message drops everywhere. The same law that says nothing about Google snooping at your Wifi, would throw the book at them if they tapped your cellular (GoogleConversation(TM)! Hear what people are saying on their phone! Now in Beta!) The difference th

  • I had more privacy than Facebook.

    Glad I wiped my FB.

  • I was browsing my Facebook settings just last night. I believed that I had already handled this chore, but this time I paid more attention to the section with application settings obscurely nestled four clicks into the mess they call privacy settings. For some reason you can't actually tell what's going on at a single glance as I previously thought, and need to switch among views like 'authorized' and 'allowed to post' (whatever the difference is, I do not know) to actually see what's going on. That's wh

  • There are two things I don't understand:

    1) people who are addicted to Facebook, and feel the need to post every single one of their inane thoughts on FB
    2) how those inane thoughts have any marketing value and/or how it affects the users "privacy".

    I understand the PII (Personally Indentifying Information) issues like birthday, hometown, etc, but does ANYONE really care that one of my friends from High School (whom I haven't spoken to in over 18 years but 'friended via FB) is proud that his daughter scored he

  • In the past few months, my employer has issued this directive:

    "Employees that use social media that also discloses their employment with the company are directed and required to report that to HR, or to remove references to their employment with (redacted). If you disclose your employment, all postings must meet professional guidelines as defined in the employee handbook. Directives to edit or remove postings as directed by HR or Communications are non discretionary as long as the site identifies your empl

  • Privacy? What privacy? As long as Facebook requires your real name and age, I will not create an account on it. Facebook has no right to that information. An email address and nickname should be all they ask for.
  • for legal battles to begin. Grab the bull (Facebook) by the horns and FU&K it up the arse. Now there is a bone we can all appreciate.

The world is coming to an end--save your buffers!