Facebook Changes Privacy Settings - Again

Facebook Changes Privacy Settings

By Sadie on December 10, 2009


Recent news has been bombarded by stories of how information on Facebook has been used against people, and yesterday Facebook anounced more changes to their provacy settings meaning more personal information about users will be published.

Privacy groups and Civil Rights demonstrators have been protesting against the changes to Facebook, currently the world’s largest social media network yesterday.

These changes were originally announced back in July, last week the rumours started up again and yesterday, Wednesday 9th December they were implemented. Many users have logged onto their account to see an alert about the new changes, this legal requirement to inform people fo the changes is designed in a pop up box that you have the option to click to read or skip. I am guessing most facebook users will click that skip button as I did when logging on in a quick break or before work therfore not fully knowing what the changes are.

350 million users are registered to the site with personal information and unless they opt in to make these private, this information will be accessible to anyone. Any items they upload to the site, such as, videos, links or pictures have the option to be made private but even status updates will be made public unless you specify otherwise. Anyone skiing from work had better be careful what they update on their status as they could lose their job from a thoughtless comment. Does Orwells, 1984 novel spring to mind? Was he right with the Big Brother society, just wrong with the outlet as it seems we should look towards social media.

“These new ‘privacy’ changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before,” Kevin Bankston, a senior attorney with the EFF, wrote on the organisation’s blog. “Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data.”

“Before the recent changes, you had the option of exposing only a “limited” profile, consisting of as little as your name and networks, to other Facebook users—and nothing at all to internet users at large,” she said.

“Now your profile picture, current city, friends list, gender, and fan pages are ‘publicly available information’, which means you have no way to prevent any other Facebook user from viewing this information on your profile”.

Facebook claimed that the changes were to give users more control over their information and not to invade their privacy. Some changes seem to be made for the better but some will definately expose some users, and their privacy.

“You will have the opportunity to customise even individual pieces of content when you upload a picture or a video,” Elliot Schrage, the company’s vice president of global communications, said.

“If you want to share a photo with just your family, you could do that as well. It is much more straightforward.”

This new move from Facebook comes just days after Google announced that it would be including some updates from Facebook in its search index, they even plans to show more information in the future. This means that if you were to Google a friends name, their facebook pictures and status updates would come up regardless of whether you were connected to them on facebook. This gives employers, insurance companies, etc leverage over indivduals and could cause more contreversy in employement laws and pay outs. Facebook already shares quite a lot of information with Bing, Microsofts’ rival search engine that launched earlier this year and has yet to take a share in search traffic but of course Microsoft has a share in Facebook of about 1.5%.

Facebook is yet to comment on the accusations, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has often hinted at these changes saying they realised different users had different requirements.

“The best way for you to find the right settings is to read through all your options and customize them for yourself,” he told users in a message last week, “I encourage you to do this and consider who you’re sharing with online.”

I use facebook quite a lot but feel I am quite computer literate and even I find it difficult to change certain settings, I wonder how this will affect the millions of people who don’t realise the implications of not changing every setting to private will mean. This will be good news for businesses as they will get more exposure through facebook groups in the search engines and could easily help or hinder reputaion management for some companies. At SEO Creative we are concerned on the level of privacy this will lead to and if we are to expect even more changes in the future.

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