Every time Facebook changes the layout of profiles or edits the way the newsfeed works, users get up in arms. People do not like change, especially when it comes to their favorite social networking site. They take to their pages with fury to yell at Mark Zuckerburg and the rest of the Facebook team to leave Facebook the way it is. When Facebook updates its privacy policies and offers users new steps to secure their pages, no one comments and many ignore the window explaining the changes that pops up after they log in. A few years ago, privacy notifications elicited more a reaction. When social networking first became a phenomenon with sites like Myspace and Livejournal, the media was constantly discussing the issue of how people’s privacy was now at risk. Users did not trust social networking sites to protect their identities, and so were cautious and constantly warning each other with horror stories of Myspace pages gone awry. With the development of Facebook however, public opinion about social networking security seems to be changing.

Now that Facebook is such a part of our daily lives—from personal pages to corporate advertising—the media coverage of Facebook invading our privacy seems to have died down. Only when major changes occur, like the prospect of Facebook going public this past winter, does the media reignite the fear that Facebook holds too much personal information.  In this travelogue, we plan to track the changes Facebook has made in its privacy settings since its start and how users and the public in general (media included) have reacted to those changes. We want to see if there truly is a trend that, as people have become “addicted” and more dependent on Facebook, they are willing to be more trusting and give out more personal information in order to have a better online social experience.

In order to research Facebook’s privacy policy, the first thing we have done is read it (http://www.facebook.com/policy.php). This gives us an idea of what information we give to Facebook and what information we share with our Facebook friends. To make us feel more secure and in control of our own social networking privacy, Facebook has been constantly updating their privacy control panel. We found this nifty little chart (http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/) mapping out the evolution of privacy on Facebook. However, even if someone sets their settings to the most private setting as possible, Facebook had had some privacy issues from applications, according to this Wall Street Journal article (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304772804575558484075236968.html). “The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure.” Also, they share information with advertisers in order to make more personal ads for you on the sidebar.  However, they have since claimed to “‘dramatically limit’ the exposure of users’ personal information.” In addition to following the steps Facebook has taken to protect our privacy, we will also be interviewing fellow friends/Facebook users on how they feel about their social networking privacy.

By: Elizabeth and Kristen

6 Responses to “Privacy on Facebook”

  1. Kevin says:

    I really like your topic and am curious to see what you come up with. I know that privacy on Facebook is a concern for me, but I do not fully understand how Facebook goes about the process of protecting their users. Personally, I keep getting this notification on the right side of my page claiming that my privacy protection is only at Medium. When trying to make my protection higher, I did not understand how certain changes would affect my privacy. This is always going to be an issue with social networking sites and is constantly in the news, especially in the form of people not getting jobs because of content posted on their “private” pages. Is this the price we pay to be able to express ourselves online? Will this privacy trend be reduced as the world becomes more connected through the Internet and privacy becomes a thing of the past? Also, in regards to my topic of celebrity through social network sites, there seems to be people who use SNS to get exposure and, therefore, do not want a lot of privacy. This makes for an interesting contrast between the reasons people use SNS.

  2. arosen says:

    This is a great topic! It seems that users are always up in arms about privacy on Facebook, but when it comes down to it, if you do not want information about you released, it is probably best not to post it at all. I feel like one of the appeals of Facebook is that it is so public. People write on each other’s walls so that other people can see their conversations. Users post information that is available to their hundreds of “friends,” most of whom they do not even know at all.

    With that being said, I do think Facebook should fulfill its statement to protect its users with the privacy features. It can be a little tricky when friends start sending you links to third-party applications on Facebook that may be able to access your info via some kind of loophole in the privacy policy. I have seen a few articles lately about Facebook changing certain aspects of its privacy policy without letting its users know. If the site is going to have so much personal information, it should definitely take steps to make sure people who use the site know exactly how to keep the information they post out of the wrong hands. I am really curious to see what you guys find out!

  3. Danielle Spano says:

    Privacy on Facebook is always something you hear a lot about. There’s always news about Facebook “releasing” people’s personal information. I think that your travelogue can prove to be very interesting in regards to the validity of these concerns regarding Facebook privacy. First and foremost, what does it even mean when people say Facebook is going to “release” your information.. that we’ll start getting spam in to our email addresses? Direct mail ads sent to our house? Telemarketers hounding us on our cell phones? Personally it seems pretty simple to me– just don’t put that information on your facebook! I don’t know about you but the first thing I learned in Kindergarten is never to give out your address to strangers (or even last name for that matter!). Despite the fact that you can put your settings to “private” the fact remains that this is the internet and for all intensive purposes you should pretty much assume that any info you put on the internet can potentially be given to just about anyone. I feel like I’m going off on a tangent here, but needless to say I think this idea is great and that you seem to have a lot of great sources to begin your research!!

  4. danjones says:

    Really great topic- nice and specific, if a little ambitious. One thing that I’ve always been interested in with the social media privacy question is what exactly people are concerned about. I have my own worries about all my information being out there, including the fact that they’re using all of this content that I’ve created to make a whole lot of money and I’m not seeing any of it. It isn’t the usual “privacy concern” in that I’m not really afraid of personal harm coming to me, but it is a concern about how things that I’ve made and provided are being used. Not only that but they’re using that data to try and sell me things more efficiently, which isn’t what I want it used for. I’m not nearly as upset about what other people might do with the information I put up on facebook as I am about what facebook itself is doing with it. I guess what I’m suggesting for you is to try and get at not just if people have privacy concerns, but what the specific nature of those concerns are (and whether or not they’re really rational).

  5. Jessica Yu says:

    There’s definitely a lot issue around the privacy settings of Facebook and other social networking sites we use. It is most definitely true that whenever Facebook changes it privacy settings, users always react very strongly to it. But even though, we fear that our identity and personal information may be used by Facebook, we still use it, everyday (majority of us at least). It is interesting to look at privacy and Facebook, but from your proposal, I feel like you guys are just marking the changes it has been through since the beginning, and how people feel about it. Definitely try and develop some more questions regarding Facebook privacy.

  6. Hannah Satzke says:

    I like that you’re focusing in on a specific facebook topic/issue, one that may not seem all that exciting at first but made me realize how important this topic actually is. I also like how you are bringing in the element of human dependency on facebook for social interaction, and how we are willing to sign away (do we even actually?) our privacy. I’m not sure if this is 100% true but I’m always hearing about corporate systems that can override facebook privacy settings for job recruiters looking at prospective employees. Is this a real concern or a rumor? If so that would be something to consider since it throws the idea of privacy down the drain, giving us this false sense of security.

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