Saturday, May 22

Facebook privacy, why you should be careful, and what I'm doing personally.

It seems everyone has been jumping on the "Facebook is evil" bandwagon lately, some of it being fair, some of it not.  I thought I'd try and jump on the bandwagon too, but this time, let's lay out the facts and reflect on them and see how they are changing my outlook on Facebook and why it might be good to change yours too.

<bear with me, it's a long one, but it's a real one, and it's meant for you to read>

Facebook is a social networking site.  Two words.

Social -- relating to or designed for activities in which people meet each other for

Networking -- a group or system of interconnected people or things

A place where people come together to be interconnected and share things and activities.  Facebook.  Exactly what it does, so why is everyone so up in the air about it, why are people complaining about it?

Privacy.  Those of you that signed up for Facebook in the beginning, and are like me, take the world on the Internet with the assumption that everything that you do online can be read by anyone, you are careful what you put on Facebook.  I personally live with the realization that I have an Internet stalker.  A guy out there on the Internet -- for whatever reason -- follows me.  Goes to every email listserver I am on, listens to every podcast I do, watches everything that I do.  Now, some of you will look at that and say "Whoa, that dude is nuts!"  Well, I agree.

However, having someone like that is like a check and balance in Government.  It makes you realize that what you put out there on the Internet, no matter how mundane and stupid it may be, someone will jump on it like a horse and ride that sucker for all it's worth.  So you really pay attention to what you put up on the Internet in the first place.

Facebook, when it started out was this concept, very different from "MySpace", where MySpace was "Everything is public".  When Facebook started many people jumped on it, thinking, "Wow, some privacy!"  Everything you put on Facebook could only be seen by your friends.  Those you invited to be your friends, or you authorized to be your friends.  Then, along the way, as Facebook started stealing ideas from Twitter, started making things more public, if you didn't change you privacy settings at each step along the way, your privacy was gone, and everything that was yours and your friends was now available to "Everyone".

Facebook's privacy policy got longer and longer, more and more confusing, until recently this article came out that compared Facebook's privacy policy length to that of the United States Constitution, the document that established and Governs our ENTIRE country, and found that the Facebook privacy policy was longer.

I started thinking about ditching my Facebook page back in November or December of last year when all of this was coming down, and it's just gotten worse and worse.  Take a look at this article written by Jason Calacanis (say what you will about Calacanis, but he brings up some good points to think about, and things that you might want to read yourself).

Jason recently wrote another article about Facebook has overstepped the lines and violated the privacy and trust of it's users.  Both are worth a read.  He talks about how Facebook screwed Foursquare, how they screwed Twitter, how they have screwed their users by changing their privacy model three times.

All of this stems from one guy.  Mark Zuckerberg.  Facebook's CEO and Founder.

"Zuck" as he's known in the "Valley" (I've never met the dude.) started Facebook, or at least came up with the concept for it while he was at Harvard.  Now, there is a lot of controversy about how the idea for Facebook came up, and that he stole it from other people, and this that and the other thing.  I'm not here to decide that, there are lawsuits in progress, and the courts will decide that one.

Zuckerberg has apparently (allegedly) screwed over many companies, partners, etc in the setting up of Facebook.  Claims are (from "they") that he wants to be the next Bill Gates, and is doing so by doing the same thing that Bill Gates allegedly did back in the 80's/90's, by "stealing" the idea for "x" from "y".  (Not mentioning names, because, like I said, allegedly.)

"Good artists copy, Great artists steal" -- Pablo Picasso (Allegedly)

Personally, I don't trust the dude, and neither should you.  <-- Read that.

So what does that mean for you?

If you have the realization that everything you put on the Internet, everyone can see, you are fine.  However, I don't like the fact that Facebook started off with one idea about privacy, and now it's a different story.

So what am I doing personally?

My "content" that I "produce" will no longer go on Facebook.  I'll point to my content on other places, (my pictures, my posts, my comments), however, I won't put things on Facebook anymore.  This will give me a metric.  A metric that says "How much do you really use Facebook".

I use Facebook for a couple things.  I like to put pictures up there and have people comment on them.  I like to put funny sayings and what not up there, but I also like to read what people have to say and look at their pictures as well.  I really use mine as a Social Network.

The people that I add on Facebook are my real-life friends.  Not "Facebook friends".  Not "Internet Friends".  I probably receive about 10 requests to be my "Facebook friend" from people everyday.  People who read my articles on the blog, people who read my articles on the Internet Storm Center..  People who just read my emails on the Snort user groups (or God knows where else) and want to be my friend.  However, no, I don't add them.  Unless I've met you in real life, I don't add you.  In fact, I've deleted a bunch of people recently.

Facebook isn't for those people.  Those people can read this blog, and they are welcome to participate with me through the comments fields.  They are also welcome to follow me on Twitter.  But on Facebook, I have stuff like, pictures of my daughter and other things on there that I just don't want everyone to have complete access to.

I've locked down my Facebook profile along the way as well, making my profile viewable "Only to Friends".  But the trust that I've put in Facebook is lost.  Have you read their privacy policy?

Here are some choice quotes:

"Access Device and Browser Information. When you access Facebook from a computer, mobile phone, or other device, we may collect information from that device about your browser type, location, and IP address, as well as the pages you visit."

I'm not tracking you when you come to my blog.  I don't know who you are.  I don't much care.

"If in any of these cases we receive data that we do not already have, we will “anonymize” it within 180 days, meaning we will stop associating the information with any particular user."

But they don't delete it.

"Deactivating or deleting your account. If you want to stop using your account you may deactivate it or delete it. When you deactivate an account, no user will be able to see it, but it will not be deleted. We save your profile information (connections, photos, etc.) in case you later decide to reactivate your account."

But they don't delete it.

So make sure you read the privacy page.  Oh but wait there's more!  There's the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities page.

My favorite is here:

"For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it."

So..  Anything I upload to Facebook belongs to Facebook.  They can use it however they want.  Including photos, and videos, and what else.

What about individual Apps?  Oh, there's a page for that too.  Check this out.  Good luck locking that down!


So, where am I putting my pictures?

I'm going to put them on my MobileMe gallery.  That allows me to have public photo albums, photo albums I can mark as private, and even more, I can secure certain photo albums with a password.

My Mobile Photo gallery is here. (Pictures that I take while I am on the go.)

But otherwise all my public galleries are here.

Can you subscribe to those photo galleries?  Yes, you sure can.  Via the RSS button at the top.  You can even subscribe to them in iPhoto if you are an iPhoto/Mac user.

If I have a special gallery that I want you to be able to see, I'll post it.  But I don't want my Intellectual Property rights being turned over to Facebook just because I uploaded a photo.  My pictures are mine.  Free for me to do what *I* want to with them.  Not Facebook.

I'm not going to put anymore photos on Facebook.  Done with that.  When I put new photos up in one of my galleries, I'll post a link on Facebook pointing to the gallery.

I'm not going to put any more "content" on Facebook.  I'll put it here, on the blog, or I'll put it on Twitter, then I'll point to it on Facebook.  Annoying as that may be for those of you that are my Facebook Friends, I ask that you respect that I do that, and play along.  I feel that my real friends will still participate, and my "Facebook friends" will fall off.  That's life.

Lock your stuff down people, you have no idea what you are sharing with the world.  For proof, go here.  Take a look at what people are saying!

Does this mean I'm getting off Facebook?  No.  I am just controlling what goes up there.  I'm still going to participate with my friends, I'm still going to comment, and I'm still going to have fun.

Plus this alleviates my annoyance about having to "hide" and "ignore" all those stupid Applications that you people keep putting on there, wanting to share your Pirate Gold and wondering if I'll help you water your crops in Farmville.

I ask that you read what I've written above, click on those links I've put in the post, and decide for yourself.

Oh, and for God's sake.  Lock your PROFILE DOWN.

1 comment:

CatrionaJean said...

Thank you, Joel. I'm still trying to figure out the privacy things on facebook. They way they have it set up. I don't know if I have chosen the right privacy or not.