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Doug's Mailbag: Facebook and Privacy

Here's some reader thoughts after Facebook blamed a glitch for private data of users being sold to advertisers:

Glitch, my arse! Seems to me that any social networking company that collects personal data will find the incentive to sell personal data at some point because it appears to be too lucrative of a venture to let pass. Let's face it, they're only in it for the money.

But we can't always blame the Facebooks of the world either. The faulted concept of 'privacy' on social networking sites has been around for long enough to warrant that the users take some level of responsibility for the amount of personal information they divulge to these sites. To give up the farm to these places only yells, "Hey!! I'm naïve! Sell my ID! Oh, and keep the change."

To be honest, I don't quite understand why someone would provide every little bit of personal information to sites like this, even if it isn't a required field. I personally,will grudgingly provide the most minimum information they need to establish an account, make some of it as general as I possibly can and give them some bogus info.

If one felt that their personal information should remain personal, then don't share it in the first place. And for the Facebooks of the world, if someone entrusts you with their personal information, lock it up and make it 'for your eyes only!' There is no reason, other than the lure of fast and free money at the expense of those who trust you, to do anything but that.

As much as I like it to share photos with friends and see how people are doing, I have had to block people who play these dumb games or click on links without thinking.

Considering leaving the site altogether (since I am now 98 percent Twitter). Do you see a growing trend of IT folks leaving Bookface? Is it the next Myspace?

Facebook may claim that the sale of private date to marketers is a glitch, but I believe the true issue is Facebook's complete disregard for the privacy of its user's data. This is the primary reason that I will not join Facebook.

The very thought of "Facebook" and "privacy breach" in the same article would be laughable, were it not said so seriously. Facebook started with a simple business model -- the illicit, unethical theft of private information, and subsequent publication of the same. Their business model has never changed -- their chief information thief simply realized that there was more money to be made in selling that information than in publishing it for free. Make no mistake about it, if Facebook could only sell the information that people are willing to publish about themselves, they would go bankrupt and disappear. Why would anyone pay them for information they can get on their own? The only way for Facebook to continue being financially successful is to develop ever more creative ways to trick people into revealing private data, ignore subscribers' desire (whether express or implied) to keep their private data private and sell that data to the highest bidder without wasting time thinking about the ethics involved.

It is a sad commentary on the state of the Internet that Facebook, Google and Apple are at the forefront -- all three companies have business models built, not on providing products, services or value, but rather on the sale of information -- whether that information was obtained ethically and honestly or not.

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).  


Posted by Doug Barney on 10/22/2010 at 1:18 PM


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