The Cost of Privacy

Friday, May 28, 2010


Facebook changed their privacy settings this week after much vocal criticism. The settings are easier to control and more people will presumably change their settings to private. The media unanimously decided that this was a good thing, but Bob asks whether it's that simple.

Comments [12]

Melissa G

I guess privacy doesnt come easy, but on the internet no one should expect to get full privacy. I think that the interent has been involved with advertising to insure that a certain product is sold and like thay said they use your data and what you look up to base what the want to advertise to you. I think that if you want full privacy maybe you should consider not having a facebook at all, and besides some of the other people comments can cause problems with privacy issues. So don't get bent out of shape, it was bowned to happen sooner or later.

Apr. 26 2011 11:58 PM
Arianna from Raleigh, NC

Oh No! this is not good. Definitely not for teenagers as myself. I like having a private facebook. For the simple fact that I don't want everyone on my facebook profile if they aren't my friend and i did not accept their friend request.

Oct. 24 2010 10:25 PM

If the goose that laid the golden eggs is supposed to be Facebook, somebody start a fire, I've got the barbecue sauce!

Jun. 08 2010 10:04 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

No, Mr. Hartman, I believe Bob meant that extreme privacy preference by all or most users would kill advertising on Facebook and, thus, advertising revenue (the golden goose) which supports those qualities users do like about the networking it provides.

I have never worried about my own privacy on it. There isn't much useful to glean from it. As they had Betty White say on SNL, "It seems like a tremendous waste of time." Fun, though.

Jun. 02 2010 08:53 PM
John Hartman from USA

The host of the show implied that Facebook users should not panic and eliminate all access to their privacy. The announcer said that to do so would prevent advertisers from being able to present their marketing messages to users. In doing so, the announcer said that panicked users would "kill the golden goose." The golden goose being Facebook.

This is absurd. Facebook is no golden goose. It is simply another tool for advertisers to present mostly non-essential material goods in front of Facebook users. If Facebook were to disappear, the world would be no worse off.

Jun. 01 2010 07:04 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne

Privacy concerns with Facebook are nothing new:

The thing that worries me is that both Facebook (never used) and Google (stopped using) have a casual disregard for Privacy/Data Protection Laws in non-US juristictions.

Jun. 01 2010 06:58 AM
Ginny Wolter from Toledo, OH

I guess I am a little amazed at all the noise about FB, it isn't as though you couldn't change the privacy settings throughout the whole kerfuffle. I have more of a problem of human error with my personal data--the bank employee who doesn't quite understand the system and opens up a spot online for unscrupless types to find it. Or the credit card employee who sends the report which such information to everyone in his department instead of the just the manager. I can control that, that make me more queasy than my own neglience in watch out for myself.

May. 31 2010 08:39 PM
blackbelt_jones from Real America


This is kind of weird coming from OTM, considering that last week's story on Facebook was what scared me into leaving the network.

May. 31 2010 05:27 PM
blackbelt_jones from Real America

If privacy is a tradeable commodity, it makes sense that we should try to conserve it. This is kind of weird coming from OTM, considering that last week's story on Facebook was what scared me into

We don't need our social networks to go through a centralized hub. Facebook doesn't provide content. It doesn't even provide the network. It provides NETWORKING, which is a way of using the network. That can be done peer to peer. Here's an example of what people have been working on:

The thing that bugs me most about Facebook is how it fits in with this whole "cloud" thing. Check out this video for Google's upcoming Chrome OS.

Everything, even data storage, is on the web. Web storage can certainly be convenient but EVERYTHING on the web? How can this NOT raise privacy issues?

What if it could all be handled P2P? What if we used open source software to control our own email server? I can't imagine why that wouldn't be possible. We could make our home computers the hub of our own networks, the place that our netbooks and smartphones and tablets report back to, where we own it and control it.

May. 31 2010 05:25 PM
Cindy Marie Jenkins from Atwater Village, CA

If you care that much about privacy, remove yourself from social networking.

You can’t tout the amazing, innovative and immediate connectivity in 2008 then turn around to lambast the same networks in 2010. As someone recently told me (and I apologize greatly for not remembering who it is): “Posting on Facebook is like posting on a billboard.”

So when you complain that potential employers know about your hangovers and your parents know about your sex life, here’s my advice: Stop posting about it or don’t friend them. It’s that simple. You create your own privacy.

Take some initiative and create your public profile. Keep what should be private– well, private. That’s your responsibility. I know how much Americans like to force personal responsibility onto others, but really, people—did you think that any recruiter or potential boss who is at all web-savvy wouldn’t check your Twitter feed or Facebook updates? That is their responsibility as an employer.

May. 31 2010 03:43 AM

This story should have had a disclaimer about Bob's "connections" to the advertising world.

Frankly, I don't give a @#$% what business model FB uses but what I do care about is disclosure. If ya don't disclose how information is used, if you don't make opting out of the sharing of that information easy, I've got a problem with that.

And one other thing. I am getting pretty fed up with media outlets using this sort of paternal tone towards the end user, US.

I know that it must be empowering for the media to be on the side of the counter with the "goods" but we, the dirty, unwashed public are not children or idiots.

Has it occurred to Bob and his advertising friends that perhaps we the unwashed have considered why advertising is important and we don't think our privacy is for sale without our say so.


May. 30 2010 04:22 PM
Dayle Ann Stratton from Vermont, USA

I do not mind looking at advertizements on FaceBook and other free (to me) sites. And I have no problem with anonymous aggregated information. But FB created a system that was vulnerable to abuse, and failed to recognize that this was even an issue. Most people using FB (including me) did not know that what one posted was automatically open to scrutiny by anyone.

When I learned about this, I discovered that FB system for changing settings was both hard to find, and incredibly cumbersome to use. In addition, it was inadequate because FB deliberately bundled features so that one could not turn one off without turning off others that people desired. They seemed oblivious to how people used FB.

No wonder people don't trust FB. I don't, though I stay (for now) because I value the contacts it allows me to have with friends and family and my extended community. Too bad FB blew it. But don't blame us.

There is a start-up called Diaspora with a commitment to privacy that should be online soon. I'm going there. Hope a lot of folks follow me. You should do a story on them.

May. 30 2010 11:24 AM

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