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Facebook's Most Hated Feature
By: Jessica Cherok
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What do you hate most about Facebook? Okay, yes — the fact that your mom is on it is a pretty good point, but beyond that.

Like most people, you probably hate Facebook’s privacy controls. Ever-changing, cumbersome, and perplexingly inconsistent. It’s like a terrible labyrinth where you can lose your job, your significant other, or worse — like finding you’ve become the new face of a 55-gallon drum of personal lubricant.

Certainly there are a lot of people out there who don’t even use Facebook’s privacy controls, either because they don’t know about them, or they don’t see them as important. But those people are the minority; the rest of us — close to 80% of all users — do.

Or at least we try to.

In an interview last week, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg stated:

“Our biggest mistake over the years was not one of violating privacy, but was one of complexity. There is this tension in privacy between control and ease of use. You can give people a lot of control and it is very complicated, or you can give people less control and it is easier to use. Facebook has historically given people tons of control, but then it was all on privacy pages with 40 things, and it was hard to understand…Every new technology is met with resistance and fear, often fear around privacy. My favorite example was caller ID. When caller ID was launched 30 years ago, people thought it was a privacy problem. In some U.S. states, they tried to ban it. They thought it was a violation of privacy to see who was calling you.”

Not to be entirely sardonic, but...seriously?

While I agree that complexity is absolutely an issue, I literally laughed out loud at Sandberg’s claim that violating privacy was not their biggest mistake. And then LOLd again at the part where she said Facebook had “given people tons of control.”

Does she not remember the time Facebook’s app went into our contacts list (without permission and changed all of the email addresses to so-and-so@facebook.com)? Or when the mobile app was discovered to have been snooping through our emails, photos, texts, etc. even when we weren’t using the app? Maybe she didn’t work for Facebook when they were compiling that massive database of our biometrics in order to make photo tagging automatic via facial recognition technology?

I mean, hello! Fifty-five-gallon drum of personal lube. The list goes on and on.

No, Facebook’s biggest problem is not one of violating privacy, or complexity, but of being completely flippant.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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