Facebook just launched New Tools to Control Your Experience two days ago, and I just went through the upgrade. A nasty surprise was that you’re presented with two columns of checkbuttons, one row selected by default to allow more free sharing with others, another row unselected with “keep old settings”, and my guess is that more than 50% of users just click through and get less privacy from that. I suppose they get what they deserve.
But there are more than meets the eye; the “upgrade” means you loose control over who get to see who your friends are, your social graph. It is now made available to everyone, and there’s no way to prevent it as far as I know. Facebook Tosses Graph Privacy into the Bin in other words.
At the same time the official Facebook blog says:
Facebook never shares personal information with advertisers except under your direction and control.
This is a downright lie. Unless Facebook decided that who your friends are aren’t personal information, and they probably did for just this purpose. Weasels.
You might think that sharing your social graph is no big deal, but to marketing scum it is highly valuable data. Looking at my own social graph it is easy to see that I’m a total triathlon and computer nerd, and that’s no secret at all, but others might not feel the same about the data mined from their social graphs. Besides, I really dislike those too precisely targeted adds, every time I’ve paid attention to adds on Facebook, which is rare, I see one that says “Are you 38?” (Yes, I am…) followed by a lame offer to win something. This is offensive and it is just going to get much worse from now on.
I’ve been thinking about quitting Facebook, but on the other hand it is really useful. I like my friends on Facebook, but I just hate Facebook the company. So I’ll most probably stick around.
I’ve gone to great lengths to limit what I share on facebook, there are only two pictures and a list of friends and things I’m a fan of to be seen, and I’ll keep it at that. I never use any Facebook apps, and I have restricted who can use my pictures as much as possible.
The basic idea is: Facebook only care about money, and they make money by selling user data, that’s their incentive. Only put things on Facebook that you’ll let the world at large see, and don’t ever expect Facebook to care about your privacy, because they don’t give a fuck.