The two faces of Facebook privacy

Z Archive

There are three kinds of Facebook users; those who worry about their privacy, those who are mastering it and those who are comfortably unaware of the whole issue. You shouldn’t be unaware if you have been reading this blog for a while. But are you worried or on top of it? If you are worried, then we have good news for you – Safe Profile. But this post isn’t really about Safe Profile, it’s about another aspect of Facebook privacy.

Your privacy on Facebook can be threatened in two different ways. Many people are already aware of the fact that not all on Facebook are their friends. You should make sure that your privacy settings are accurate if you post information that isn’t intended for the public. This isn’t trivial and that’s where Safe Profile helps you.

So everything is fine when I have run Safe Profile and made all the suggested changes? Well, not necessarily. It’s a good start, but there’s one big question left that no tool can help you with.

One company can read everything on Facebook no matter what settings you use. That is Facebook itself. So you should ask yourself; do I trust this company? Remember that it is the same company that had license terms that took away your rights to material you post, used to change the privacy settings just when you learn how to use them, tried to take rights to photos once again with Instagram, and so on… Also remember that you aren’t paying a cent for the service, the advertisers are. You want privacy and the advertisers what information about potential customers. So which group’s interests are more important to Facebook in the long run? The old saying is so true; if you are not paying for the product, then you are the product.

Facebook has been under pressure for a long time, and they have no doubt improved on the privacy settings. Today they are quite comprehensive and sensible. But the focus is on the user vs. user -aspect of privacy. There’s very little talk about the user vs. Facebook or actually user vs. advertiser -aspect. All we have on that front is our trust in Facebook’s will to protect us, and they have made many moves in the past that have hurt this trust.

This is not just speculations about what Facebook might do with your data. One example is a class-action lawsuit against Facebook where they blackmailed the lead plaintiff out of the case by threatening to reveal info about her.

So you must decide if you trust this company or not. If you do you can use Safe Profile to manage your privacy versus other users. But what if you don’t? Can one be on Facebook at all in that case? Yes, there is a strategy that makes it possible. Use Facebook but keep your private data out:

  1. Don’t put your background in Facebook. Leave your profile empty, or enter just enough to distinguish you from other with the same name, so that old friends can find the right person.
  2. Don’t expose your private life on Facebook. Think of it in a different way. You can use it as a public blog and still create enough content to keep up your friends’ interest. And it is still as hooking and exiting when you check for others’ comments to your posts!
  3. Make sure that others can’t put your private data there. Prevent them from tagging you in photos, for example.
  4. Think before you like. Liking things builds up a picture about what kind of person you are, especially if you like commercial products. They are of much greater interest to advertisers than liking your friends’ private posts.
  5. Don’t use the e-mail that Facebook provide.
  6. Always make sure that you are logged out from Facebook and that you don’t have any of its cookies stored in your browser. These cookies enable all web sites with embedded Facebook applets to track your surfing habits. One convenient way to do this is to mainly use Facebook from an app on your mobile or use the private browsing mode of your browser.

Sure, your life on Facebook would be quite different this way. But there are really just two options if you don’t want to risk that Facebook will misuse your data in the future; do it like this or stay away.

What about me? I’m on Facebook but with the strategy described above. I never post casual events from my private life, just pictures and comments on what’s happening around me. I have also selected a couple of other things that I can talk about in public, for example my job and some of my hobbies, and those things are fine on Facebook. This is of course also giving away some pieces of information about what kind of person I am and how I think. But that’s acceptable, most of it is actually information that can be found elsewhere too.

Safe surfing,
Micke

PS. My Facebook strategy is BTW also a way to make sure that mass surveillance programs like PRISM don’t get too much data on me.

2 Comments

A good read and the reason I am not on facebook .

Also why I don’t have club cards – loyalty cards etc. The data is priceless to big companies and organisations.

Think would you tell your friends or family about everything you purchased ???? probably not !

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