Mark Zuckerberg, famed for his relatively modest lifestyle among the tech fancy-men, just made a major real estate purchase: He paid $30 million to snag the properties surrounding his house. Why? Privacy: developers were planning on capitalizing on his proximity. It’s too bad he’s shelling out so much money to maintain a sense of security while he’s stripping away the privacy of Facebook users.
On Thursday, Facebook published a low-key reminder in its Newsroom titled “Reminder: Finishing the Removal of an Old Search Setting.” Sounds innocuous enough, right? Just doing some updating on stuff they had in the works. The post might as well be subtitled “No big deal y’all.”
But it is a big deal. This privacy change means that, soon, anyone will be able to look you up on Facebook unless you’ve specifically blocked them. This means users who have previously hidden their profiles and made themselves unsearchable to the general public will no longer be able to do so, unless they want to go ahead and block every
Prior to this, you could set your privacy settings to allow only friends or friends of friends to look up your Timeline by name. Facebook claims that only a single-digit percentage of users took advantage of this privacy option, which is why it’s removing it. But this change will allow any user of
And guess what? Even a single digit out of a billion is a lot – one percent of one billion is 10,000,000. So there are actually a staggering amount of users affected by this.
Facebook has been moving toward public-facing profiles for a long time, and it’s part of the company’s project to turn into a search and discovery tool.
You are the proverbial frog in a pot and Facebook is boiling your froggy privacy away by slowly turning the heat up.
Now, you’ll still be able to prevent strangers from adding you as a friend, and for individual posts, you’ll still be able to limit the audience. This doesn’t mean Facebook is making everything public. But it wants to. And it’s going to keep shifting its settings to push users into making public posts. This decision to effectively change all of
Facebook is still the premiere social network, and it can do this because it has positioned itself as a platform often seen as necessary to participate in the social Web. The company’s recent bid to work with media companies so that cable providers use
This privacy update is probably not going to have much of an impact, if any, on Facebook’s popularity, despite protestations from tech writers like myself. But this behavior is going to screw with the company eventually. There’s an undercurrent of resistance to how
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: Facebook is a profit-driven company, not a freaking non-profit, and it’s going to move users in a direction that will allow for more profitability. Search is where it wants to go, and making a search engine based on the social Web requires personal information made public. That’s fine. But the company is being particularly slimy because it’s cloaking this goal in blog posts that make it seem like it’s trying to preserve privacy and help us figure it out. It does not want that.
It will take more than this to get me to stop using Facebook because I am a weak aficionado of the social creep, and also I get paid to write about social media – but if I had my druthers and a different job I’d delete my profile faster than a 17-year-old clicking out of YouPorn when his dad walks in the room.
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