Facebook Privacy Silliness

What is all the big hub bub lately about facebook privacy? I don't get it, I think some people just like to complain ...

Start Rant

Seriously folks, it's a FREE site, and it's on the Internet. And really, who, in 2010, is actually naive enough to think that Anything they put on the Internet is really "private"? [pullquote]If I have a thought, opinion, picture, story, etc., that I don't want people to know about, I wouldn't dream of putting it on the Internet.[/pullquote]

As for me ....

But since, generally speaking, I Do want people to know what I think, and what I do, I have no problem with the fact that my status updates on Facebook are now searchable by the entire Internet. In fact, truth be told, I think it's good.

I'm a marketer. One of the reasons I jump on the computer every day is that I want to meet, and connect with, interesting new people. The easier it is for them to find, and learn about me, the better.

Which is why, to me, one of the strangest things about this whole "controversy" is that many of my marketing friends are some of the people throwing the biggest hissy fits about facebook's privacy settings. I honestly don't understand?

Facebook Instant Personalization Pilot Program

I also have no problem with the idea that if I visit a site on the Internet, while I'm logged into my facebook account, and they have access to my facebook interests, they might use that information to present me with more relevant advertisements.

If these sites are going to show me ads anyway, why wouldn't I want to see something I might actually be interested in?

What, am I afraid I might be more likely to buy something if the ads are relevant to me?

If you really need privacy on a network ...

Here's the cold hard truth: if you really need a "private" place to interact and share with your friends and family, Facebook (or any other "free" social networking site, for that matter) is probably NOT a good option for you.

Here's what I'd do if I wanted to set up a (theoretically) private network online ...

  1. I'd buy my own web hosting account (you can find them for $10 or less a month)

  2. I'd install either wordpress with the buddypress plugin, or I'd use a free message board script such as phpBB or SMF (which can be installed with one click via fantastico).

  3. I'd password protect the directory, and just for good measure upload a robot.txt file with "User-agent: *
    Disallow: /"

  4. I'd invite (and give the password to) only the people that I want to share my stuff with

This is probably a workable solution. But, it's not terribly easy, and it's not free. Plus, honestly, how many of my friends are really going to take the time to read and/or post anything on "Todd's private network" anyway?

Bottom line, if you want to network online (especially when using a "free" site) you should expect that your information will be shared with others; and that the site will try to monetize your content and information in some way.

If either of those prospects are unacceptable to you, I'm sorry but you really shouldn't sign up for the "free" sites in the first place.

Thought to remember:

On the Internet (actually really in life) "free" is almost never actually FREE

End Rant

Til next time ...


  1. I agree, you are getting a service for free, so it is what Facebook wants it to be. Or is it?

    As a company, you have to be honest and open with your users. Without Facebook users, there is no one to advertise to, and the whole business concept crumbles. Some days I'm inclined to walkaway as both a user and an advertiser. So in some aspects...they do need to give the "customer" what they want or risk losing what they have built. I don't mind my likes, interests, etc being shared, but I do care about photos and other private parts of my profile. Keeping that balance is an advantage for both me and Facebook. It is a win win.

    As a parent of a teen and preteen, the openness scares me. Being a high-tech Mom, I teach my kids about internet etiquette, privacy rules, and all the ins and outs of social media. Not all parents do. Have you seen http://youropenbook.org/ ?

    I just find it ironic that a leading social media company is so inept at actually using their own social media to connect with their customers/users. I believe they are beginning to reach out, but will it be enough?
    .-= Melinda´s last blog ..In a cleaning pickle? Reach for the vinegar =-.

  2. Hi Melinda,

    Don't get me wrong, if Facebook didn't even have privacy options, I too would have a problem with that. But even if I do click the little button that says only my friends can see something, I still wouldn't post anything that I wouldn't also be comfortable with everybody seeing.

    That's the real takeaway for me ... "private" information has no business being on the Internet in the first place.

    The biggest head scratcher for me is the people who are up in arms about the personalization by sites using facebook connect (many of the same complaints were made about adsense personalization). Why wouldn't I want "personalized" ads on a site that I'm voluntarily visiting?

    Again, a caveat, if the information is used to "push" marketing material to me, it's a problem ... but as long as it's just personalizing ads that's I was going to see anyway, I don't have an issue.

    I did actually see that youropenbook.org site, just this morning ... reinforces my point above about sharing "private" information.

    ... that said, as long as people are sharing, that site could be a goldmine for an enterprising marketer (who wants to meet people that might have an interest in his/her product or service)

    ... and/or anybody who just wants to waste a couple of hours reading crazy stuff that people post on their walls. :-)

  3. I agree with you. I don't have a problem with the personalization of a site due to likes/interests. I personally love it! I just think they shouldn't be so sneaky about how they go about it. Inform the casual user that isn't as up on technology as we are. I look out for my friends and inform them.

    I never put anything on the internet that I wouldn't show my grandmother. :)
    .-= Melinda´s last blog ..In a cleaning pickle? Reach for the vinegar. =-.

  4. I'm with you Todd. If you don't want people knowing stuff about you, you should move into a cabin in the backwoods in Montana. (That doesn't sound like a bad idea.) It's the curse of our connected society. Personally, I haven't bought into Facebook... I'm just not that interesting of a person. If my friends want to know what's going on with me they can follow my blog via RSS or come by my house for a drink or a sandwich.
    .-= donnie´s last blog ..MCA of Chattanooga Launches New Website =-.

  5. Facebook status updates... true enough, it's pretty much in the open that each status update is to be read by the FB community. I am not entirely sure of this matter but I do believe that if privacy is the priority, don't update private-like statuses or simply, as proposed by you Todd, back away from using social sites.

    The Internet really does bring up issues huh? LOL! But still... useful it is!


  6. How sad is it that I only post the most G rated stuff that absolutely anyone could ever read on FB, anyway. I'm guessing FB is reacting to the heat they are getting from hissed off people who have had their accounts hacked. "Privacy" is really about security in the FB users mind. Only we know privacy settings aren't going to stop hackers, so that plans moot. Let FB have their posturing, I suppose.


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