Hey, I’ve Never Met You. And This Is Crazy. But Here’s My Number. Harass Me Maybe.

Posted October 19th, 2012 at 9:38 am (UTC-4)
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Why Facebook Believes Privacy Is Not Its Job

Ross Slutsky | Atlanta GA

Facebook has never had a stellar reputation when it comes to privacy.  Here is the latest annoyance.

Open a new window in your browser, login to Facebook (if you haven’t already) and check your privacy settings.

Click on Edit Settings.

Now go to the window, open it, stick your head out and yell, “I’m moderately displeased, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

The default setting is that any of the billion people on Facebook can look you up using the email address or phone number you’ve provided in your account.

You may be thinking to yourself, “This is not so bad.  I will just change the privacy settings so that no one can look me up using my email address or phone number.”

But then when you try to change your settings…

You realize that completely closing off search functionality is not an option.  Granted, you could always remove your email and/or cellphone information from Facebook, but this is an unfriendly arrangement in terms of user control over data.

Just because I put certain contact information on Facebook for friends to access does not mean I want said information to be indexed on Facebook’s internal search system.

Furthermore, by forcing the same privacy standards onto email addresses and phone numbers, Facebook is lumping together control over two very different forms of contact information.  This arrangement is somewhat coercive.

If John Doe is comfortable making his email indexable in search but wants to prevent people from looking him by phone number, he is out of luck.

But none of this should really be a surprise. Facebook’s founder, CEO and guiding force, Mark Zuckerberg, says people really don’t care about privacy anymore. “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people,” Zuckerberg famously said more than two years ago.

Still, there is no reason for Facebook to do this.  The logical and obvious solution is for Facebook to decouple control over email address accessibility from control over mobile data accessibility.

In other words, cut it out Zuck.



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