Got Social?

Destroying our rights to our private information

In a recent Tweet  I wrote “Set up a wiki for posting information about Facebook & how they are destroying our rights to our private information.”

Marc Parry, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, responded with “marcparry @sorry_afk “Destroying our rights to our private information” Bit extreme? Nobody forces you to have a Facebook account.”

My response couldn’t be boiled down to 140 characters  :-)  or even a couple of sets of 140 characters!  LOL  So I’m responding here in my blog and will post this link to Twitter.  I encourage others to continue the conversation in the COMMENTS section.

Marc, I don’t think its extreme at all.  What I think is extreme is the management of Facebook’s cavalier attitude toward our personal data.  When I first came into Facebook I was promised a level of  expected privacy.  Slowly that has been eroded until now, I have no control over it.  And I don’t even have the option to opt out, they say they are keeping everything, AND can still publish it, after I’m gone. AND, they’ve gone out-of-the-way to make it as difficult and confusing as possible to opt out of even portions of this.

Chris Hoadley sums it up really well here:

I suggest people start paying attention to what is going on here.  If this type of privacy invasion is left to be set as a standard, big brother will all to soon REALLY be watching, as will the entire Internet.

5 Minutes with Me – SPECIAL EDITION – Facebook, continued

I’m doing this special edition of 5 Minutes with Me in my work/professional blog, as opposed to my personal blog (which you can find in the right hand navigation bar below) because this has as much to do with my professional life as personal, and also my studies I guess.

I’m on a Facebook boycott.  I’ve not deleted my account yet, because I want to see how Facebook responds to this latest outcry.  So far, I’ve not seen that they’ve cared very much.  Perhaps I’m wrong.  But I’ve started out by not signing into Facebook all the time, as I was before.  I always had it open and running in the background.  Now, with this new invasion of our privacy, if I do that, they can get their grubby little hooks into ANY OTHER WEB PAGE I VISIT IN THAT BROWSER WHEN I HAVE BOTH OPEN.  Yes, you read that right – and in all caps.

I’ve also decided that if I DO need to go into Facebook, I’ll do so in a different browser and have nothing else open.

I may leave my account open without really adding anything because I may want to get in touch with the hundreds of people in my networks to be able to tell them where they can find me.  Eventually, something new will come up and start to take away the user base, it’s already happening.

As I said, Facebook clearly made a guess that those who were left would still earn them enough money to offset those who leave, including the cost of the bad press.  Lets hope that’s not true because they have just drawn a line in the sand that others will start to cross if we let Facebook get away with it.

I plan to start a wiki that will be open to the public to edit, where people can find important links about what is going on with Facebook and our privacy but also where people can post links to things for others to find.  Anyone will be able to post as well.


You may already be aware of how upset I am with Facebook and the massive privacy betrayals, not just the past ones – which have been numerous, but certainly the most recent on.  I’m not going to take the time to explain all of this here, others have done a good job of it already.

Chris Hoadley is a faculty member at NYU, in the department in which I am getting my PhD.  Here is his take on what is going on: Make sure to check his blog out and follow it via RSS.  If you’re not sure what RSS is (and how it will make your digital life so much easier) – watch this:

Here is an awesome chart sequence showing how dramatically our privacy rights have changed at the hands of Facebook:

If you have other resources from the web that are talking about this, please do post them here in COMMENTS.

One of my main problems is, if I leave Facebook – and it seems almost certain that I will, where do I go?  I love what Facebook has to offer as far as connectivity and being able to stay in touch, share things – but the rulers have gotten greedy and in the process have broken several cardinal rules of social networking, not the least of which is developing trust with your clients (and we are, after all, clients in a way) by not endangering their privacy.

One of the other cardinal rules, broken more recently, is the OI/NOO – or – Opt In / Never Opt Out – meaning, if you want to introduce something, don’t force it one me and make me opt out, give me the option to opt in.  They didn’t do that this time around because they knew that nobody would opt in and how else could they have made money on this if nobody opts in.

Well, the question of where may have been answered – or at least partially.  A group of four students from New York University (my some-day-soon alma mater!) have decided to devote their summer to developing an open-source, free, privacy-driven social network to replace Facebook.

Their effort is called DIASPORA and you can find them here: Check out their video and then make sure to stick around to the very end :-)  Also, one of them, Max, goes into a very little detail about the project here:

I will be keeping a close eye on them, and the progress, and hope to have good things to report back soon.  In the meantime, what am I doing about Facebook?

Well, first, I went through and deleted all personal information about me that they would let me delete.  I also went though ALL of the privacy settings and set them to the strictest I could (or was willing to).  I also went though all the applications that I’d given access to my profile over time and cut all those connections.  I will also be pulling down any photos I don’t want up there (I’ll leave some as others may still want to have access to them) and will also likely prune down my groups.

The other thing I plan to do is to start de-friending people.  Why?  Because, in this latest breach of our trust, Facebook has made it possible not only to share our data without permission but to share our data through our friends without permission.  Details can be found at the links about.  So, if my “friends” don’t have their accounts secured properly, my information could seep out through their accounts.

I really REALLY hate doing this.  I love Facebook – I’ve really enjoyed getting into it and love being connected.  But I love my privacy more.  I really don’t have all that much to hide, but I want to be the one to control who sees what.