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Digital Downer: Facebook's Privacy Crisis
By: Jeff Louis
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In April, Mark Zuckerberg announced via a third party he doesn't believe in personal privacy online. In their efforts to keep the public aware of a growing Facebook privacy crisis, online sources slammed the company's open "devil-may-care" attitude over privacy issues and recent hacks. 

Users, once enjoying a degree of control over their Facebook accounts, now are faced with the fact that their "like" preferences are public by default. Thus, if you "like" a page or cause, everyone is able to view it.

Many privacy issues stem from Facebook's "Open Graph" approach to social media.

"Yelp is mapping out the part of the graph that relates to small businesses," Zuckerberg announced during F8 (Facebook Developers Conference). "Pandora is mapping out the part of the graph that relates to music. If we can take these separate maps of the graph and pull them all together, then we can create a Web that's smarter, more social, more personalized, and more semantically aware."

In other words, user profiles were automatically interfaced with Yelp and Pandora. Users who don't want to be integrated with these sites have to physically turn the features off, then go to the Facebook pages and block the applications. To further complicate matters, Facebook's response has been one of disdain; the company's attitude is "If you're not comfortable sharing, don't."

In light of this "new stance," high-profile users at ReadWriteWeb and Google have gone Facebook-free. Then, Silicone Alley Insider published instant messages between a 19-year-old Zuckerberg and an unnamed friend; the IMs related that users who trusted the then Harvard-based social media network were "dumb f---s." 

Facebook, now numbering over 400 million users, isn't the same Facebook that started in Zuckerberg's dorm room. Back in the dorm days, Zuckerberg didn't answer to anyone. Today, investors fueling the company with scads of cash have a voice in the company's business.

Facebook recently held an "all-hands" meeting. The AllFacebook blog speculated the meeting would result in a suspension -- or cessation -- of the company's instant personalization partnerships with Yelp, Pandora, and Docs.com.

DiasporaAs proof of the Facebook's eroding public trust, four NYU students launched a "please-fund" page on Kickstarter last month, an effort to create "alternative," Diaspora, so Facebook wouldn't have a bucket of information on its users. The students met their $10,000 goal within 12 days.

The New York Times ran a story on the effort, and two days later donations grew ten-fold. Currently, Diaspora has 3,000 backers and $120,000. Search Engine Land reports the number of searches for "How Do I Delete My Facebook Account?" is growing.

Facebook's 25-year-old billionaire-founder may be learning his first, true "business" lesson: Don't s--- where you eat.

 


   

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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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