My Thoughts on Facebook’s Privacy Policy

By now, it is no surprise that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg does not value privacy in his business model. A colleague of mine and dear friend, Matt LaCasse had a post on his blog, Public Relations and Other Ruminations stating that he agrees with making the information public, even if it results in an embarrassing photo or two of him.

I respectfully disagree. My friends call me Puritanical because even though I am well above the legal drinking age, I don’t want photos of my on Facebook with alcohol. In my hand. In front of me. Anywhere in the photo. It isn’t the image I want to portray. I untag myself from the photo and ask posters to crop or remove the photo. I believe if you’re my friend, you’ll understand.

This policy has created some issues. A former high school journalism teacher posted all the archival footage from my freshman and sophomore year online. Unfortunately, at the request of my employer at the time, I had to ask for it to be removed. It wasn’t professional enough. While I sent a nicely worded, please cease and desist request, he took it personally. Let’s just say it didn’t end well.

Initially, Facebook started as exclusive to specific colleges and people with specific .edu addresses. I liked that closed community feeling. As Facebook became open to more and more people, I stopped using it as much. Now that my parents and their friends are using it more than my friends, I use Facebook even less.

Here’s where my biggest concern about privacy comes in: other users. What’s to prevent an estranged parent or family member from posting your birthday, home address and phone number under children or relations? Nothing. Even if you don’t have this information online and are against doing so, there is no recourse should that estranged person post that information and refuse to take it down.

I do think Facebook has a great business model and public information must be a part of that. Facebook has done an exceptional job of growing their community. I just don’t know if in 20 years when my peers are running for an elected office or when a stalker finds my home address because an estranged relative listed me under nieces, how that community will hold up.

7 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Facebook’s Privacy Policy

  1. Great post Aurora!

    You raise many points about the policy, and they are legitimate concerns. To clarify, I’m not saying those concerns are ridiculous, unfounded or anything else. I simply believe that it is in Facebook’s best interests for that information to be public. For the company to continue to grow at the rate is has in the last 12 months, the more personal information it can make public about its users to other users is in its best interests.

    As is the case in many cases of corporations vs. the public, what is in the company’s best interests are not in the best interests of its customers. Make no mistake, even though we don’t pay anything to use Facebook, that’s exactly what we are. Customers. I’ve experienced Facebook differently. It didn’t exist until after I was out of college, so I didn’t experience it until it was opened to everyone.

    That said, I’m also much more open to my information being public. However, I’m careful about what I post. You’ll find my phone number on Facebook, but you won’t find my home address. You’ll find strange pictures of me, even some with a beer or assorted adult beverage in my hand, but you won’t find any photos that I would regret having a potential employer see. I have gone through and untagged photos that I thought might not be the best, but haven’t asked anyone to take them down.

    The bottom line is this, and I think you are spot on Aurora. If you value your privacy online, it is no one’s responsibility except your own to take care of it. Facebook makes money off of your info being public, don’t expect them to change that policy towards restricting information anytime soon.

    1. Matt,
      I think we’re a bit closer in agreement than either of us initially thought. I do strongly believe it is the personal responsibility of each individual to maintain their online image. I think my particular stance comes from being in Broadcast News on TV where you have to be even more protective than in other career fields.
      I agree that it comes down to what you are comfortable sharing with a potential employer or having your potential future children find about you. Because once it’s online, it’s there. Forever.

  2. I’m the weirdo who thinks public on blogs and public on facebook is two different realms. While I know what I consciously post on my blog and can tailor what I’m putting out there, you’re NEVER sure on facebook. People can put anything on there, and once it’s out there it’s out there. As facebook emerges as the new megatron of social networking, I find myself on there less and less. Additionally, as they continue to update and change the site, my info and what I’ve specified in previoius versions changes, even so far as things I’ve specified as private has been made public. More and more, I’m deleting content as a preventative, and as a result facebook is more and more just a placeholder to keep in touch with family when necessary.

    1. Jessica,
      As stated in my post, I also am using Facebook less and less. It does come in handy for communicating with various running clubs I am involved in and for sharing photos with family, but at the same time the content I provide on facebook has changed drastically in the last year. I am interested to see how it changes next and what happens to the original target demographic.

      1. Well and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but some people have amazing privacy that I don’t seem to have available to me. It’s not like I’m not savvy so what am I missing?

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