Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tell me again why we're still using Facebook?

I note with more than usual displeasure that Facebook appears to be up to its old tricks again. USA Today reports:

Facebook has touched a nerve with a broad range of critics upset about the social network's latest batch of online sharing technology.

Ten consumer and privacy groups have joined Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Tex., in calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate new sharing mechanisms designed to accelerate the collection and dispersal of information about Facebook users' Internet activities.

In the spotlight are Timeline, a feature that maps everything a user has ever done on Facebook, and several "Open Graph" applications designed to broadcast a user's surfing patterns and Web interests to friends and friends of friends.

. . .

Laura Antonini, research attorney at Consumer Watchdog, says Facebook's new sharing features "disregard the privacy of its users by making sweeping changes that expose personal information without giving users the chance to choose what information they want shared with the world."

. . .

Meanwhile, security experts say Facebook has also raised fresh security concerns, as well. The company has recently rolled out new mechanisms to encourage users to share more educational, career and health information, and to recruit "subscribers" to follow them on Facebook, akin to how people follow each other on Twitter.

Crime gangs will almost certainly tap into the richer information Facebook users divulge about themselves to trick victims into infecting their PCs with a virus, says Catalin Cosoi, researcher at antivirus firm Bitdefender. "This will make it a lot easier to obtain valuable information about an individual," Cosoi says.

And as the company promotes Twitter-like following of recent wall posts among Facebook users, spamming scams now common on Twitter almost surely will migrate to Facebook. "Facebook has underestimated the sophistication of the cyber underground," says Tom Kellermann, chief technical officer of mobile security firm AirPatrol. "If you build it they will come."

There's more at the link.

I've long been not just suspicious, but downright aggravated by Facebook's cavalier disregard for customer privacy. They keep pushing the envelope, sometimes doing so without any prior warning and then acting hurt and upset when people complain about their excesses. I regard them as absolutely untrustworthy. They can protest all they like that they track their users 'responsibly', but that depends on who gets to define what's 'responsible', doesn't it? It's like Google's motto, 'Don't be evil'. Who defines 'evil'? And where can we find the definition, so we can be informed of what they may, or may not, be up to?

There's a good reason I keep cookies turned off in my browsers, and delete persistent 'flash' cookies several times a day. It's not paranoia. It's a sense of security and a desire for privacy. That's also why I don't use Facebook, thank you very much. Why should I let a bunch of irresponsible, untrustworthy, info-grabbing geeks into my system?



trailbee said...

I joined Facebook in the early 2000's and felt very exposed. I left Facebook and tried to delete my account, and was told I could not do so. Just in case I wanted to return. Why would I want to return to a company that gives access to Obama, without the same options to any conservative contender?
The owner might be dishonest, but also unethical.

Morris said...

The only people Facebook will pay any attention to is their customers, the advertisers.

Simply put, we are just the data to be harvested and used.

Lance R. Peak said...

Exactly as Morris said, the users are not the customers.

Tam said...

"I've long been not just suspicious, but downright aggravated by Facebook's cavalier disregard for customer privacy."

Are you paying for Facebook? No. You are not the customer. The advertisers are the customers, you are the merchandise. Don't like it? Don't use it.