Just in case anyone believed Mark Zuckerberg’s promises to keep our personal details safe and private, Facebook has reportedly been giving user-specific data to advertisers. The Wall Street Journal revealed Friday that “Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers’ names and other personal details, despite promises they don’t share such information without consent”. Facebook responded quickly to stop the leaks but obviously it’s not a good look for the social networking giant.
I admit I’m one of Mark’s suckers, but I’m not sure for how much longer. What’s the point of a “social networking” site that you’re too afraid to use in case your personal information is accidentally leaked (which seems almost worse than being deliberately sold) to third parties?
I went onto Facebook’s blog to see if they’d responded to the Journal article and couldn’t find anything in the latest posts. Maybe they’ve said something somewhere else. I did find this, though, rendered darkly amusing in the light of what we now know:
At Facebook, we’re constantly working on new ways to protect you from scams and help you keep your account and information secure. Today, we’re announcing some new tools and systems designed to keep the bad guys out and keep you abreast of suspicious activity so you can quickly take action to correct it.
We’ve always devoted significant time and effort to security. We’ve built technical systems that operate behind the scenes to quickly detect and block suspicious behavior, delete phony posts and messages, and return compromised accounts to their rightful owners. Most of these systems are invisible to the average person who uses Facebook. Very few people will ever experience a security issue on Facebook, which means that most of you have probably never noticed these systems at work. Rest assured that these systems are there, though, protecting you and your friends.
When you join Facebook, the sign-up icon is sometimes displayed next to a slogan like: “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life”. What it fails to mention is that it also helps you connect and share with people who are not in your life and who you would never, ever want in your life if you had the choice.
(Photo courtesy of Spencer E Holtaway via flickr)