Facebook: The privacy saga continues | Opensource.com

Facebook: The privacy saga continues

Posted 21 May 2010 by 

Ruth Suehle (Red Hat)
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Even if you'd never heard of Facebook before this week (unlikely as that may seem to most of our readers), it's tough to avoid now. The privacy fiasco has even hit the cover of Time magazine.

And yet, I have to admit: Most of the news I hear about this, I hear via Facebook. That is to say, I haven't left yet. For all its wrongdoing, the fact remains that Facebook keeps me in touch with people I otherwise would lose track of. And I know I'm not alone in that.

So while we await Diaspora, or whatever open alternative rises to meet the need, I've used the open source tool at reclaimprivacy.org

to help me review the status of my own settings. And I sit back, hoping that everything will work out for the best. Because the one thing Facebook has done right is to bring in the numbers. Five hundred million people.

Fortunately for my social self, I think there's a lot of truth in this list of 10 reasons you'll never quit Facebook. And since they're all based on the things Facebook does right--ways it makes our online lives easier--I'm optimistic for a future version of social networks that satisfies those needs, our privacy preferences, and our open source dreams.

When that day comes, I look forward to downloding this heartfelt tune (don't miss the alt text):


http://xkcd.com/743/

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11 Comments

Sortova
Open Minded

It's funny you should post this today. I just went and removed quite a bit of content from my Facebook account. I really enjoy the services it provides, but I've decided that I don't want to store much information there.

Of course, I don't have any control on Facebook keeping the pictures I post and things I write without my knowledge, but I never post anything to the Internet (well, at least on a server that I don't 100% control) that I couldn't stand becoming public eventually.

I am interested to see what happens with Diaspora. But with social networks, size does matter. I recently attended a conference in France where I collected about 20 business cards of people with whom I wanted to keep in touch. I looked them both up on LinkedIn and Xing (a popular European alternative). 19 had LinkedIn accounts - none had Xing accounts.

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suehle
Open Sourcerer

I feel the same way you do about the things I've already posted. Even in corners you think are private, the Internet is by definition public. I'm not a particularly private person, so I probably overshare. But things that I wouldn't want my dad, boss, husband, cover of the New York Times to see? I don't post it online.

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Máirín Duffy
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suehle
Open Sourcerer

I was just checking that out a little while ago. They're up to a committed 0.00274% of the Facebook population. It's an out-and-out exodus.

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Máirín Duffy

I'm planning to do it but I didn't sign the petition or whatever. I will tell you when I first saw that site 2-3 days it was at ~4,000 people, so it's tripled quite quickly.

No, it's not a major exodus, but it's certainly remarkable.

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suehle
Open Sourcerer

I am curious how many people total are leaving and have left since all this started. I think this might need to be a poll on the site.

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Kevin Neely

i didn't know about the mass exodus day, but I left on Wednesday. To me, it's not about the current policies or the settings or even what I had posted. I do not trust the company's intentions or the direction they have chosen to take with regards to social media privacy.

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ashcrow
Community Member

I'm waiting for the 31st in which I'm going to delete my Facebook account. Honestly, there are many other open and closed social networks out there that let you keep in contact with others ... I don't see why anyone should feel they need to stay in a closed and dangerous (they keep having security issues most of which are not rocket science to avoid) network. I am happy to see my non-technical and non-FLOSS friends actually saying similar things.

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moondowner
Open Enthusiast

Clicked on the survey 1-2, now to explain my voting.

My first firend, didn't left Facebook out of privacy concerns, but out of self-distraction and no productivity. She deleted her account because she was spending way too much time on Facebook, and when the session ended she didn't passed not one exam. The day the results were released she deleted her account out of anger. She couldn't control herself and didn't managed her time well, and she didn't studied as she did the previous semesters.

Another example is a friend of mine who deleted his account because of privacy concerns, but made a new one after a week. Why? Because lot of people use Facebook, and he had to keep in touch with them, and it turned out that Facebook was the only way (or the only efficient way). So, he made a new account, disabling the wall and everything he could, and made several groups in which all his contacts were, and via the privacy settings he made almost everything private and visible only to the one of the groups he made. He uses it only for fb-chat and fb-messaging now, which he needed.

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Unidentified

I think that facebook is not going to even notice the numbers that leave. Facebook has become the generic of social networking that Google became to search engines. Yes, there are alternatives, but when 99% of your friends and family are on Facebook, and have never even HEARD of open source, things are just not going to change.

Bottom line is that you just need to accept that nothing that you do online is private. E-mail, IM's, message boards, social networks and any other contact through the internet will be (and in fact always was) available for those who know how to glean the information.

Just don't post things you don't want known to the general public.

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dragonbite
Open Source Evangelist

Some privacy has to be relinquished just in providing a means, as well as actual networking. Just like when talking with people, a certain amount of personal information needs to be relinquished, otherwise you're just lying.

Not to mention, how will the people you WANT to hook up with know where to find you if you don't at least give them some information?

Of course the issue here is the breaking of trust, or the telling what you put up in confidence. Now that you are finding your friend is a "snitch" and telling the world your dark secrets you regret confiding in them in the first place.

Facebook, though, is caught thinking they can get away with this because they are still popular, but once an equivalent alternative which addresses some of these concerns crops up and becomes known I think they'll find a much larger exodus and by that time it is largely too late.

I'm not deleting my account only because there are so many friends I have where Facebook is the connection, plus I want to be available for the friends I haven't seen in years who may one day look me up on Facebook. I don't use it otherwise, very much. I sometimes go weeks between logins and with the Facebook chat plugin for Empathy I have even less to log in for.

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