Pushing the public to make personal information public is one of the accepted fortes of Facebook. The warning signals were there, but they werent seen or heard by passionate Facebook users who were hooked onto this social media platform and were busy connecting with friends and making new friends.
Now make no mistake, Facebook definitely revolutionized social networking and became the definitive role model for many other social media sites that followed it. But it also became the punching bag of choice for all those experts who felt that Facebook was not as good a thing as it was made out to be. Their voices were dwarfed by the voices of millions of active Facebook users, who swore by this online platform and for some, it was their lifeblood.
You might wonder why I am speaking in the past tense here. I am doing so, because users perspective towards Facebook is changing and its changing fast. It is still the social utility of choice for over 750 million people. But slowly and surely users are waking up to the fact that Facebook is trying to invade upon their privacy.
Before we talk about the privacy issues, lets have a look at another equally important aspect Facebook Addiction
Is Facebook Addiction A Disease?
Not quite. There is no doubt that Facebook must be doing something right and this is the reason why last Christmas it witnessed the highest traffic " More than Google. Yes, you read that correctly.
More People Accessed Facebook, Than They Did Google Last Christmas
Hows that for Christmas spirit, the Facebook way? Now some might call it addiction, while others might call it necessity,and there are still others who would call it stupendous branding. Actually its a mixture of all three. The fact that Facebook allows people to develop a personal connection with each other by sharing personal information is what makes it so addictive. But, this is what has made it dangerous as well.
As one person tries to outdo the other to connect with as many friends as possible, they are willing to let out more and more personal information without thinking how its going to affect their lives in the long run.
Why The Controversy?
Facebooks social networking model relies heavily on users being more open with their personal information. This has been its strength and has made it so popular.
On one hand it asks people to share as much of their information as possible and on the other hand it offers tools that helps users control this information.
But, the point that many users fail to understand is that whatever the controls on offer, Facebook, at the end of the day, has access to all this information. The company is making use of all this information, to generate multi-billion dollar ad revenues.
Major Privacy Issues
The debate and discussion regarding Facebooks privacy control is as old as the social network itself. But, what is now bringing this issue to the fore again is the slew of controversial plans announced by Facebook.
Now read this carefully " The home addresses and cell phone numbers of users are no longer private. They can be accessed by third party developers and external websites.
It does plan to offer user privacy and authorization controls, but that is neither here nor there. Whats the guarantee that rogue apps and phishing scams wont access such information " There is absolutely no guarantee!
Your Social Security Number Is No Longer Sacrosanct
Lets flesh out this danger step-by-step. Facebook has ensured that you are no longer another name in the crowd. With very little effort, one can now put a name to an unnamed image. So consider a scenario wherein somebody with an agenda wants more information about a particular target group. This person can create a detailed character profile based purely on the Facebook profile created by Facebook users. Whats more, this profile also contains certain character traits, personal likes and all kinds of personal information. This can be used as this person sees fit.
Now heres the scary part. Researchers have proven that the information made available, also helps guess the social security number of a particular person. If what I have written comes across as half-baked, dont worry, I was surprised when I came across this information as well. No doubt working out something as secure as a persons social security number takes time and lot of effort. But it can be done.
If you are somebody who falls into the bracket of Facebook addicts, its time that you woke up and saw the thorns. You ignore the risks at your own peril. The danger is real, but there are ways and means to get around it. One of the best ways is to follow the maxim Personal information should remain personal. You only tell people what you want them to know and not what they want to know.
- "Anonymized" data really isn't"and here's why not
- Why you can't really anonymize your data: "Any dataset that has enough information on people to be interesting to researchers also has enough information to be de-anonymized."