Facing Off on Privacy

Unless you live under a rock, you know that this week Facebook announced a change in its privacy settings to give users more control over who sees the information they post to their personal pages.  Although the company’s intentions are to give people more privacy, there are plenty of complaints form the angry mob about the new policy. Many users believe the new settings will inadvertently expose their personal information, and they've threatened to delete their accounts. As is the case with almost every change the social networking giant makes, there's now a Facebook group against the moves: PETITION AGAINST NEW PRIVACY'S SETTINGS ON FACEBOOK!

In some cases, users are upset because the old privacy settings gave people the ability to make it harder (or impossible) to find someone through a simple search.  For many users that was the very thing about the privacy policy that made them comfortable with joining the site.  The way users see it, with the new privacy settings, they no longer have the option to keep their name, profile picture, current city, gender, networks, friend list or pages private.

According to Attorney Kevin Bankston from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in reaction to the new Facebook privacy settings, “I think you're better off in some ways and worse off in some ways. It's really a mixed bag."  Contrary to Bankston, Brendon Slattery of PCWorld states in the article, “Why privacy concerns are ruining Facebook” that:  “If Facebook users became more acquainted with the power they have to protect themselves, perhaps sweeping shut-downs such as these wouldn't be necessary. But as Facebook locks doors and tosses keys, I cannot help but feel it's headed in the opposite direction from whence it started, dismantling its very purpose, and adopting an attitude of exclusivity.”

In my opinion, whether you’re for or against the new Facebook privacy settings comes down to how you’re using the social networking tool.  If you’re using it to connect with people – which I find to be the whole point of Facebook – then why would you want to make yourself unsearchable?  I understand that there are certain “networks” of people who you wouldn’t want to see your personal information.  However, Facebook hasn’t taken away the option of a “limited profile” which allows you to pick and choose the aspects of your profile certain people can see (with the exception of the listed items above).

Isn’t the fact that you’re on Facebook an indication that you don’t really care too much about your privacy?  Do you believe the new privacy settings are really in the best interest of Facebook members?

A quick office poll confirmed that users feel differently about this issue, here is our breakdown:
•    40% Don’t care about the new Facebook privacy policy
•    30% Care about the implications of the new policy, and wish Facebook would remain more private
•    30% Aren't even concerned enough with your Facebook status to think about it

What do you think?

Contributed by Chantal LeBoulch.  Follow her @cleboulch or friend her on Facebook.