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Facebook – All in Private?


Now before I start this – I don’t want you to get me wrong, I like Facebook, I like it a lot:

  • I’ve got in contact with people I haven’t seen in years!
  • I don’t have to send an email round to tell people what a fantastic holiday I had (I just post it and the photos and they can choose to look at it when/if they want to).

I do have some gripes though…

  1. The amount of time-wasting people do on it. I scoot on have a look and scoot off (but then I  do have a billion and one things to do around the net!).
  2. The fact that people use it as the number one method of communication now. Even SMS seems to be going out of the window for people to contact each other with such things as new births etc.
  3. The security, last but by no means least and probably the biggest of them all.
    I tend to keep what I put on there fairly compartmentalized I know what I want people to see and wouldn’t upload it unless I did! The security to limit people is kind of complicated though (as I found out trying to explain it to a friend last week).

Items 1 & 2 there’s very little Facebook can do anything bout, this is proof how “mainstream” Facebook has become and they’re probably quite pleased about it. The third however is a very different story.

The security is clever if you sit down and take the time to build your friend lists (and associated access properties for those lists) correctly it can really work well. The problem is people don’t take the time to do this!

I’m a fan of opt-out of privacy rather then opt-in. Your profile should be locked down so nobody can even see it from the outset and then you should be able to unlock certain parts (photo’s etc) to certain individuals or friend lists as you see fit. I guess this would make it an “anti-social networking site” but it would be safer!

Look at the national security issue that arose this morning:
Lady Shelley Sawyers (wife of the next head of MI6) posted details of their children, holiday photo’s and the location of their flat on the website. This is after vast sums have been spent in the past to ensure he and his family are protected from security compromises.

This is all happening in the wake of Facebook’s planned security “simplification”, that word “simplification” scares me. In general it means it makes it easier for the company doing the simplifying and more of a pain for those using it (Orange have been a prime example of this over the years!).

So instead of setting different preferences for your photo’s, your job history, your date of birth, you’ll now have one privacy setting to rule them all (In a Lord of The Rings “One Ring” kind of way). Now whilst I can hear you saying – that’s great – finally they’re making it easy. Think again!

You want to show a couple of friends your holiday snaps, so you open up photo’s to friends – wait a minute – you don’t want them going into work (you don’t want the blokes from work seeing you in a bikini do you girls and The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce movie boys?!?) so how do you do this. This sounds like it’s getting “complicated” not “simplified” to me?!

The above is an example you’ll “probably” be familiar with but the bigger one is probably your date of birth (used to generate Facebook birthdays and all those nice fuzzy messages from friends on your birthday!), how many sites have you entered your date of birth as a security question on recently? Do  you really want to open that up to friends, employers, ex’s, the bully from school that seems to have settled down now??

I’ll leave you with that thought, and we’ll watch with interest as Facebook “simplifies”

Creative Commons License photo credit: hyku

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 5th, 2009 at 9:52 am and is filed under Websites. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Comments (6)


  1. Matt says:

    Totally agree with you here! I don’t understand why people put their mobile phone numbers on their profiles. It’s just asking for trouble, especially for those people with hundreds of “Friends”.

    People really need to start using a bit of common sense. Given the average user’s credit card number and access to their Facebook page, it would be easy to cause a lot of trouble.
    .-= Matt´s last blog ..iPhone Rumor Dithering =-.

  2. K8 says:

    Just ‘cos you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you… totally with you mate. I made up a false name for my f/b account, but it shows who I’m hitched to, and I recently had to spank him quite severely for putting up his mobile number AND home address for public viewing. What’s his information, is mine, and I’ve been stung before as a wee innocent. Publishing details (even surnames) can be dodgy, but if you think about it, if a stalker REALLY wants to know where you live, all they have to do is delve into your I.P. address. It’s too easy.
    Stalkers are few and far between though… the rest, could they give a crap?

  3. Keiron says:

    LOL! They’re always out to get you!

    Oh I agree the internet is a stalkers playground though, surely?

  4. Hi, I am also agree with you, one has to be very smart and attentive while updating his/her profile on such social networking websites. These websites should have a feature where people other than our trusted list can’t see the personal details or photos or there can be a level of trust circle where one can allow others to come to their profile.

    This can solve the problem to a major extent.


  5. Matt says:

    The problem is, people just don’t use the privacy settings they are given. It’s totally possible to hide stuff from people on Facebook. I agree with Keiron, opt-out privacy options would help to solve a lot these problems because it would force people to think about what they are doing.

    Opting-in should be progressive, where enabling each sharing feature would then enable an even less private bunch of settings to become available.
    .-= Matt´s last blog ..Fun with Short URLs, because size isn’t everything =-.

  6. Don’t worry about that. People can view it only if they are friends. Its private automatically.

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