Facebook is utterly untrustworthy
December 14, 2009 Leave a comment
Here are a few things to consider before putting any of your data into Facebook:
- Under the aegis of “we’re making some changes to give you more control,” Facebook is taking advantage of standard user click-though terms of service behavior to make your profile data public. (via Jason Calicanis)
- Whenever you take a Facebook quiz or use a Facebook plugin game, everything in your profile is available to the publisher of the quiz or game. Further, everything in the private profiles of all your friends is available to the widget publisher as well. The data collected by the publisher can be sold, resold or released in any way the publisher of the quiz or widget chooses. (via ACLU)
- The privacy controls in Facebook are deceptive and there is no way to opt out of sharing private data with Facebook apps. (via Electronic Frontier Foundation) Also, there is no screening process required for app developers. Anyone with a Facebook account can be an app developer.
Why would Facebook leak its users private data in this way? Well, they may be incompetent but it is not a compelling argument since they have built the worlds largest social network. The other possibility is that they want to convert the data in their systems into money. The leaking of private profile data to app publishers makes Facebook a wonderful platform for targeted marketing. It is particularly insidious because your data can be leaked even if you yourself are very careful but any of your friends uses any Facebook app.
Similarly, Jason Calicanis points out that the more data that is public on Facebook, the more it can be indexed by Google, Bing and Yahoo! to drive search traffic to Facebook. That traffic is monetized by selling ads.
Facebook shows an astonishing disregard for the privacy of its users. It appears to believe that its membership is too stupid to notice or care about the way that it is abusing their private data. It is amazing because the original value proposition of Facebook over MySpace was that Facebook had privacy controls. Clearly Facebook is not concerned with keeping its users data private. They are concerned with monetizing Facebook in advance of their IPO.
Perhaps it is time to send Facebook a message and delete your account.
Of course, you still have to trust Facebook to actually delete your data and they are utterly untrustworthy.