Facebook Privacy – Who is responsible?

 In Engagement

Everyone is crying foul on Facebook’s privacy policy and functionality. There have been murders, rapes, pedophiles, cyber vandalism, cyber bullying and a lot more incidents that are ringing the alarm bells at their loudest! The government, the enforcement agencies, parents and public overall are all demanding that Facebook makes sure that it’s looking after its user’s safety interests. What amazes me is it looks like everyone is complaining but no one is leaving the Facebook. I can’t see where Facebook’s terms and conditions say ‘Once you join us, you may never leave us, no matter how dissatisfied you are!”

The question that comes to my mind is why is Facebook responsible for what we choose to share? If you don’t want something to be made public why put it on the website in the first place? And if you have chosen to put it on the profile and some creep has found out what you didn’t want him to know yet shared with ‘everyone’ in your profile, why blame the Facebook management? They have clearly given you the option to select who you want to share the option with – down to deciding for every single individual as to what he can and what he cannot see on your profile? Then I hear the argument why do I have to make things private, it’s a free country. True – it is, so you are saying, in your free country, before the Facebook era there was no stalking, rapes, murders? There were, there always have been , and that is why we have the laws and the enforcement agencies to keep a check on them.

Exactly the same way, the Facebook has given you the ‘enforcement’ power to prevent the information from going into the hands of people you don’t want to share everything with – by letting you choose individually what each ‘friend’ of yours can see or cannot see. All you have to do is – take 10-20 minutes of your time and set up your privacy as per the level of trust you have in each individual and not to mention keep in mind how you know them, how much you know them and how much should they know about you without having met you. More so, the fantastic LISTs function helps you set up a predefined privacy level so you don’t even have to set up the privacy per user, but you can choose which friend goes in which privacy level list. So be it existing friend or a new one, all you have to do is add them into one of the lists as per the privacy level you want to have with them.

Now I hear the argument, it’s all too complex and tedious – oh okay, so you want safety, you want privacy, you want to be able to make sure only people you trust can get your information – but you don’t want to make any effort to do so. That is where I ask, don’t you keep your ATM and credit cards securely or do you expect banks to send a security guard with each customer to look after your plastic money? In that case, I am assuming you’d also like that you don’t have to remember PIN numbers or sign for payments when paying by card, you’d just prefer that bank sends a clerk with you to do this all for you? Well, that actually sounds like a good idea, it will create so much more jobs in the banks and security industry … and oh bankrupt nation! Now I am sure you think I am an idiot. Well there you proved my point, it would be very silly of us to think Banks or Facebook are responsible for maintaining the security of our information that we have posted publicly with no effort from our side to keep it private or only share with individuals we can rely on.

In saying all of the above I don’t deny that facebook has a responsibility, rather I think they have done well in giving us granular control or at least their intention was good. What possibly they need to do is instead of making the selection process of various controls so broken down that you have to go to each single component and define the security level, they should have given a list of items that a user has on their profile, and then columns of privacy levels as per list and option for people to check the most appropriate radio button, and also be able to select whether the user wants to apply the same level to all lists or select different lists individually, much like the Yahoo Groups administrative controls used to be about 5 years ago, simple and quick to manage.

It is true that Facebook has to make some real changes happen, make it easier and as you might have heard in the news, he (Mark Zuckerberg) has come out and accepted they (Facebook) needed to make their controls easier and now they are doing it this week, but the primary responsibility of saving our information lies with us and how much we share is OUR choice and we should not blame others for what we have shared publicly and came back to bite us.

Give it a thought!

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Comments
  • Lois Alter Mark
    Reply

    This is so true. We have the power – and responsibility – to control our own privacy settings. It’s up to us to take the time to understand the rules and adjust accordingly.

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