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Why Facebook Won't Stop Invading Your Privacy 219

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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  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:44AM (#33974316)
    When Facebook announces new privacy-preserving settings for its users, what they mean is "we have implemented a new zero-day exploit that will allow hackers to steal all your info with a simple script and sell it all off on the internet with very little effort."
  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by delinear ( 991444 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:46AM (#33974358)
    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.
  • The law still counts (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:55AM (#33974484)

    Unfortunately (for Facebook), there are some strong laws on privacy in many countries, including all of the EU.
    Fines imposed might be outrageously high, and actually, if they were caught selling personal data, they would get in real trouble.

    Facebook might be big and powerful. States are even bigger and more powerful. Ask Microsoft and how their disregard for lawmakers actually got them hit quite hard at the end.

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

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:56AM (#33974510) Journal

    I find myself re-iterating this fact to my family members every month.

    See, yesterday or the day before the Wall Street Journal published an article, I guess they sent someone in and investigated the whole Facebook Application scheme, and found that 10 out of the top 10 developers are selling the information they gather and that it's not unusual for LOTS of Facebook apps to do so. This is technically a breach in the "privacy policy" set forth by facebook, but no one has ever done anything about it, ever, so its still rampant.

    Of course, my mother works downtown in a nice tall skyscraper and she catches a glimpse of this, catching the words like "Facebook - Privacy - Security - Breach - Applications - Farmville" so she went and formed her own little news snippet in her head completely different from whats actually going on. She sends an email to the entire family along the lines of "Facebook announced that some popular apps like Farmville have been hacked, so double check your personal/financial info to make sure none of your banking credentials were stolen!"

    My first reaction was a double take with a massive head jerk thinking that the makers of Farmville (Zynga? w/e) had managed to make their application place tracking cookies or other devices in the browser that could do simple keylogging and report back to their server. I immediately pull up my browser and start searching for anything regarding the subject matter - only to find nothing but that Wall Street Journal Article.

    So I had politely drafted up an email to everyone in that email explaining the whole privacy issue with Facebook right now - making careful to note that their computer hasn't been hacked by accessing a facebook app - but any information they've put on Facebook is essentially on there, has probably been sold to advertising companies, and can't be removed.

    I can't seem to get it to stick...

  • by SemperUbi ( 673908 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:57AM (#33974534)
    again and again; it's old news by now. But there are a whole lot of people who just don't seem to either get it or care. Facebook is really good at exploiting that ancient "be part of the pack or else you'll die" thing that got us through the Pleistocene era.
  • Re:No one cares (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:23PM (#33974950) Homepage

    When friends encouraged me to get on Facebook I told them about the profit model and why they shouldn't contribute to it...

    Wait... *why* shouldn't they contribute to it? You say that as if it's a given, but please, elaborate on this point for me.

    Because it seems to me this is a classic example of a win-win situation: the users give information to Facebook, which Facebook deems valuable, and the users, in turn, receive a service they find useful.

    Now, certainly people can choose whether they want to participate in that arrangement, and I can see why *you* shouldn't. But I fail to see why no one else should.

  • by Mr.TT ( 1689454 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:24PM (#33974972) Homepage
    A year ago, we launched a privacy site with the goal of providing a safe, secure, simple means to share information using end-to-end encryption. Without going into detail and without mentioning the name of the site, I can tell you that we succeeded and we have a small group of regular users. We don't have an advertising budget, so most users find us through google ("private secure encrypted"). Even those with no knowledge or understanding of how encryption works can figure out how to use this site. Since we collect no personal data, we have nothing to sell to advertisers. Eventually, there will be a nominal fee to use the highest privacy level ("secret"), but anyone creating an account this year will get to use the site free for life (or until the site is sold or terminated).
  • by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:45PM (#33975268) Journal
    One key part about it is that Facebook, and particularly Zuckerberg, is convinced that privacy is an illusory notion at best in today's world. Privacy was all some strange social construct that is now, or soon will be, thoroughly antiquated. It's an impediment to the future; a mental hangup. It's right up there with believing the Earth is flat and the sun revolves around us. The sooner we all realize this the better off we'll be.

    Within this philosophy each move that Facebook makes isn't some sort of violation or theft. You can't steal what someone doesn't have. Instead, it is an object lesson to the unenlightened. I, for one, believe this is total bullshit. Then again, I'm also not on Facebook. The movers and shakers in technology have been all about this for a long time: dragging the masses kicking and screaming to that future only he has the genius to see. Usually, they have limited it to technical or economic matters, a'la Bill Gates. Or, like Steve Jobs, they have an overt social vision behind their technological heavy-handedness, but folks generally haven't been too offended by it. Zuckerberg is upping the ante in a dramatic way.
  • by cmholm ( 69081 ) <> on Thursday October 21, 2010 @03:50PM (#33978494) Homepage Journal

    Socialism 101: the employees own their place of employment. It could be directly, such as a partnership, or via proxy (ie. shares of stock). Period.

    Some people prefer a more indirect proxy (ie. a Socialist government). Obviously, *that* model has had problems.

    Social Democratic parties prefer the employee-ownership part. But, rather than require it and overturn the whole apple cart, accept that yer gonna have owners exploiting employees, and use social welfare programs to ameliorate the "getting screwed" parts of capitalism.

    To manage a social welfare system requires records of the beneficiaries. On the other hand, large firms selling products purporting to ameliorate the "getting screwed" parts of life require records of the beneficiaries, and may sell those records to other firms.

    Potaytoes, potahtoes.

  • by ScottMcD ( 1339445 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @04:24PM (#33979056)

    I use my real name on facebook. That makes me an idiot? Thanks for the classification.

    I tend to believe I'm more informed than the average person. Maybe I'm mistaken. If you believe that social networking sites sharing this type of information is the greatest privacy issue at the moment then you are mistaken.

    To provide an example, I recently remortgaged my house. I received no less than 2 dozen mail offers to my home address (the address remortgaged). Most of them were to either offer insurance protection in case I was disabled and couldn't pay my mortgage or to allow me, for a fee, to pay my mortgage more often thus saving money in interest. A service my bank offers for free.

    These companies put information on the mailings that could only be found in the mortgage documents, including the principal amount. How did they get this information? All of it is readily available public information available on the internet. Any piece of property in the state I live in has this information available online. This includes deed information such as amount paid and any liens including mortgages and tax liens. These are full images of the documents, including the signature. For many cities and towns tax assessment information is also available: property value, floor plans, property acreage and address.

    There are many other examples of information online that compromise privacy. To worry about people putting information they themselves decide to put out there is the least of our worries.

  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Thursday October 21, 2010 @04:50PM (#33979420)

    The social stuff can work, but FB's app model is all or nothing. You hand over not just your info to any app developer who comes along, but your friends' info too. I have yet to see a FB app developer ask for anything less than the whole shebang for their stuff.

    The "love it or leave it" argument isn't valid either. I know when I was looking for work that I was turned down for jobs because I didn't have a FB profile, thus HR reps thought I was a dinosaur. I was even asked about it in interviews, and when I stated that I had no FB account, I'd get looked at like I just farted out a radioactive bunny which was playing the DN3D theme song. Employers actually look at candidate FB/Twitter/MySpace profiles these days. Some even demand full friend access. So, not having an account means hurting one's chances at finding gainful employment.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham