Warning! The social networking site you are about to enjoy is very social.

So the globe had an article yesterday about a group of University of Ottawa law students who lodged a complaint that Facebook breaches Canadian privacy law.

Regarding concerns that Facebook might be sharing the information with advertisers without users consent… fair enough.

But in regards to people not understanding their information is going to be shared publicly? I’m less sure. This quote really struck me:

“There’s definitely some significant shortcomings with Facebook’s privacy settings and with their ability to protect users,” said Harley Finkelstein, 24, one of the four students behind the complaint.

“If a 14-year-old kid in Toronto decides to join Facebook, and is prompted to add a network, and he decides to join the Toronto network – because that’s where he lives – does he really know that everyone on that network – by default – will have access to his personal information?”

Coffee Warning LabelI think the answer is yes. Indeed, that’s probably why the kid’s joining.

So this strikes me as akin to labels on paper coffee cups that say “Warning. Hot!” The fact that coffee is hot is as self-evident as the fact that social networking sites are about enabling people to, well, connect socially with others over the internet.

So we can soon expect to see this post’s title as a warning label on any social networking site. I’m sure they’ll be read as closely as the coffee cup labels are.

5 thoughts on “Warning! The social networking site you are about to enjoy is very social.

  1. 300baud

    I think the point is, the design of Facebook assumes that it is better to accidentally reveal information than to accidentally conceal it. That’s exactly backwards. The default should be to protect the user. If something is going to require a bunch of tedious clicking around (Have you used Facebook? It’s awful.) it should be sharing information, not protecting information.

    Reply
  2. 300baud

    I think the point is, the design of Facebook assumes that it is better to accidentally reveal information than to accidentally conceal it. That’s exactly backwards. The default should be to protect the user. If something is going to require a bunch of tedious clicking around (Have you used Facebook? It’s awful.) it should be sharing information, not protecting information.

    Reply
  3. Jeremy Vernon

    The only information Facebook can know about a user is that information the user provides – to suggest that it’s the responsibility to Facebook to protect your information is to assume that information belongs to Facebook.

    This information belongs to the user and its their duty to ensure they only share that information they want public. The fact that Facebook allows granular privacy controls as a service – not an obligation. It’s not irresponsible that they by default provide it publicly – it’s their competitive advantage.

    Can someone point me to a legit news article describing misuse of Facebook info? Is there a rash of which I’m not aware?

    Reply
  4. Jeremy Vernon

    The only information Facebook can know about a user is that information the user provides – to suggest that it’s the responsibility to Facebook to protect your information is to assume that information belongs to Facebook.This information belongs to the user and its their duty to ensure they only share that information they want public. The fact that Facebook allows granular privacy controls as a service – not an obligation. It’s not irresponsible that they by default provide it publicly – it’s their competitive advantage.Can someone point me to a legit news article describing misuse of Facebook info? Is there a rash of which I’m not aware?

    Reply

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