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News

Privacy Considerations Beginning to Improve At Facebook

SecureWorks : 28 May, 2010  (Technical Article)
SecureWorks provides some insight into the latest privacy announcement from Facebook which is seeing some improvement at the popular social networking site after recent privacy erosion
Don Smith, VP of Engineering and Technology, SecureWorks outlines his thoughts on Facebook's latest privacy announcement:

"Facebook has unveiled its new simplified privacy settings aimed at making it easier for users to control information disclosure. The previous default settings did not go far enough in helping users to protect their online persona; indeed recent changes had removed the possibility to control visibility of key personal information. Furthermore, applying privacy settings within Facebook was complex and opaque to end-users.

"The changes are definitely an improvement. However, they still do not go far enough in ensuring the default privacy settings minimise disclosure. For example, the new 'recommended' privacy settings expose data such as status updates to 'everyone' and photos and birthdates to 'friends of friends'.

"Looking at Facebook's default settings over the last six years you can see that privacy eroded from initially sharing only a user's name, gender and picture to a default stance of displaying all wall posts, photos, friends and networks to the entire Internet.

"For some significant time, privacy advocates have been warning of a collision between social networking sites and the consumer, that the penny would finally drop on who actually owns the data on sites such as Facebook and the implications on data visibility. Interestingly, Facebook's apparent disregard for the privacy of their end-users has usefully brought this debate into the public domain.

"However there are mounting concerns that others aren't taking privacy issues seriously. Google, first with Buzz and more recently with the revelations around data collection from their streetview cars, is demonstrating some of the same disregard for privacy which led to today's Facebook announcement.

"Facebook has taken some small steps in the right direction today, it remains to be seen whether others, such as google have both the will and understanding to continue to "do no harm"."
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