Privacy on Facebook

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Facebook recently changed the way users manage their privacy. Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, discusses what's good, bad, and ugly about the privacy setting changes.

Have you been burned by the Facebook privacy settings? Did you find you were sharing more than you thought you were? Give us a call or comment below!


Kevin Bankston

Comments [27]

Lucy from Newark, baby

Although I am almost a boomer, born in 1967, I have the attitude of the Gen X and Gen Yers that you cannot ever assume that you have any privacy at all. I jump through hoops to keep my info private ~ so I revisited the Facbook privacy options as soon as they changed and locked my stuff up so tightly, you cannot even add me as a friend, unless you're a friend-of-a-friend. I also write to the DMA [direct mail association] to suppress my mailing address from lists and google myself occasionally to make sure I am not "Googlable" ~ and I am not. Privacy is all of our singular responsibilities and you can (with a little work) keep yourself under wraps. Recently, a friend tagged me in a photo, using my real anme on Facebook, and I had to take immediate measures, but it worked! Don't whine ~ do the thing with the thing.

Jan. 13 2010 12:38 AM
John LaRocca from New York

In Regards to your Segment about Face Book's sudden privacy policy change:
I wonder if Face Book has considered the effects of changing people's privacy settings without notice has had on gay closeted men around the word, especially gay, bisexual and transgendered men in countries where being homosexual is punishable by death. I myself am not out at work and to some members of my family and I very carefully separated my family and coworkers from being able to see my gay and edgy transgendered friends. After a few months of not going to my Face Book page, I was horrified to discover that my settings were changed with out my knowledge so that everyone on my Face Book list of friends have access to my gay friends who have tagged pictures of me with my lover. I hope a class action law-suit against Face Book is in the works. They have ruined people's lives.

Jan. 07 2010 11:07 AM
Talia from New York

The new "hard to find" friends privacy setting was harder to find than it sounded. You have to click on "Profile" (not on "Settings"), and then click on the "little pencil" by the word Friends where your friends appear. That finally gets you to the checkbox you need to uncheck. You may want to clarify this. Thanks for the heads up, Brian and Kevin!

Jan. 06 2010 01:47 PM
K from NJ from NJ

About having different faces depending on who you are talking to:

I occasionally check in with my little cousin, who I'm not very close with. Now I have a new, and not very pleasant, picture of who she is because of who she is friends with and how she talks to them. (I'm sure all of you have similar stories.)

Jan. 06 2010 12:36 PM
Rob from The Bronx


You are indeed correct. I caught him at the Hope conference extended edition.

Jan. 06 2010 12:12 PM
Karina Granbom from Martinsville, NJI

Just started on Facebook a month ago and have been very cautious before I knew exactly how it works. Was very surprised to see the default settings and almost missed changing them.

A lot of people will not read through the new settings and just accept them. SO HAPPY that there are information sources like the Electronic Frontier Foundation to help.

(Normally tech savvy 43 year old who are starting to fall behind a bit..)

Jan. 06 2010 12:06 PM
Jon from NYC

To: Rob from The Bronx
Am I correct in assuming that you were sneakingly referring to Steve Rambam's lecture on privacy entitled "Privacy is Dead: Get over it"?

Jan. 06 2010 12:04 PM
Rob from The Bronx

To: the truth!from BKNY:I meant no disrespect, it is just that I think it is futile to expend negative energy on the things that you cannot change. Certainly you are free to mention your dislikes to individuals, but my experience is that language will evolve in new directions independent of your or my preferences. Perhaps it is just my work environment where I am exposed to people who butcher the language daily, thus giving me a high tolerance. I just try not to personally succumb to such assaults on the language.
Happy New to you.

Jan. 06 2010 11:50 AM
EAC from e.v.

just noticed: a user can BLOCK an application from the applications main page.

"You can prevent ______ from getting any info about you. This will not prevent you from seeing _______ if other people have it installed."

I'm not really sure to what extent that can help with privacy — perhaps it's the same as when a user removes an application? — maybe it keeps an application a friend is using from getting to your info?

Would be curious what Mr. Bankston thinks..

Jan. 06 2010 11:34 AM
the thruth! from BKNY

Rob I dont have to "get used" to anything and I can hate what I one is asking for "purity" in language, that makes no sense...I just hate people that repeat every saying they hear, my right to do so

Jan. 06 2010 11:19 AM
Rob from The Bronx

Privacy is dead, get over it. Anything that you are not comfortable with the world reading on the front page of the NYT etc. should not be posted on the web.

To :the truth!from BKNH, unless you become a hermit you will need to get used to cliches. It is just the way people speak. Purity in language is a losing battle, see how successful the French are at it.

Jan. 06 2010 11:04 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Concern over inadequate privacy settings is why I’m not on Facebook—that and I have different “friend spheres” as the guest says—so it’s looking even more likely I won’t join or will have the most Spartan page possible.

Jan. 06 2010 10:58 AM
Lori from NJ

Thank you for doing this show! I was in the first wave of privacy changes and tried to alert my friends but I think that few people really appreciate how much these changes have compromised their privacy.

I removed my public listing because my Wall was visible to the general public. I still don't think you can limit that info to other Facebook users (non friends). Unfortunate!

Jan. 06 2010 10:58 AM

If you upload pictures can Facebook reserve the right to own those pictures?

Jan. 06 2010 10:58 AM
Sam from NYC

Facebook should just go back to the days when it was made up of about twenty northeast colleges and universities and students like myself didn't have to worry about our parents or little cousins or anyone else for that matter seeing our profiles.

Jan. 06 2010 10:58 AM


Jan. 06 2010 10:58 AM
CT from Hamilton Heights

Oh, I totally agree with Anna, btw. Anyone who knows anything about technology should know that nothing on the internet is REALLY private.

Jan. 06 2010 10:57 AM
the thruth! from BKNY

They can only obtain the information YOU provide! Most people provide TMI when they are just talking, let alone thinking that they are writing anonymously!

And just look over your 13 year olds shoulder, what are you afraid of?

Jan. 06 2010 10:56 AM
CT from Hamilton Heights

The new Facebook privacy settings have actually been great for me because all of my custom privacy settings were maintained through the transition process AND I was able to put even more controls into place. People just need to be more responsible and proactive about protecting their privacy! (I realize that is a tall order for most, but it shouldn't be. Wake up, people! Quit being so ignorant.)

Jan. 06 2010 10:56 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

Riddle me this ?? I just got this from my privacy setting

Worried about search engines? Your information is safe.
There have been misleading rumors recently about Facebook indexing all your information on Google. This is not true. Facebook created public search listings in 2007 to enable people to search for your name and see a link to your Facebook profile. They will still only see a basic set of information.

Jan. 06 2010 10:55 AM
Steph from NY

what if you close the account, can they still use your info?

Jan. 06 2010 10:51 AM
Anna Diolosa from Garden City, NY

I think everyone who uses Facebook or any other web-based social media service needs to always post content based on the assumption that anything posted on the web is not 100% private regardless of privacy settings. It is common sense. If you don't want certain things to be public knowledge, just don't post it. it is that simple.

Jan. 06 2010 10:51 AM
the thruth! from BKNY

If anyone else uses the "horse out of the barn" cliche again I am going to scream!! Hate cliche's

Jan. 06 2010 10:50 AM
Allison from Gowanus

How am I going to spy on my 13 year old step daughter now?!? She can hide posts from my husband and I now. Yuck!

Also I find it silly. Either post something you want to show to people or keep it to yourself. Preferably on loads of stuff...keep it to yourself.

Jan. 06 2010 10:50 AM

the new settings seem purposefully confusing. I think you should have to approve any photo tagging or posting on your wall. I'm considering quitting, but I'll have no control if I'm not a member of friends photos of me.

Jan. 06 2010 10:50 AM
Gal from Brooklyn, NY

I had my privacy settings so that no one could find me if I was not looking for them. Now, I can't get that kind of privacy anymore, people who I haven't spoken to in years are contacting me out of no where.

Jan. 06 2010 10:49 AM
Jon from NYC

Maybe Facebook should have applied GPG's notion of "Web of Trust" instead of reinventing the wheel.

So long as advertisers continue to rely on Facebook for data mining in order to selectively hock their wares, there'll NEVER be any privacy.

Jan. 06 2010 10:48 AM

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