Do you trust Facebook?

    by Mark Glaser
    January 7, 2008

    The social networking site Facebook started its life as a closed network for college and high school students. One of its big advantages was that people felt safe networking with their friends. But once the site opened up to everyone, things have changed. There have been phishing scams, a rise in “friend spam” (people ask to be your friend but really want you to sign up for another service), and even text alerts sent to the wrong people. Plus, Facebook drew scorn for its Beacon service that broadcast purchases to friends, and now there are questions about its “Social Ads” that let companies use your name and photo in ads if you download their widgets. So do you trust Facebook, or are you worried that it’s not a safe place for networking? How do you protect your privacy on social networking sites or do you not care? Share your thoughts in the comments and I’ll run the best ones in the next Your Take Roundup.

    • i can’t really say that i don’t trust them, but then again, i do not have very much personal information placed on the site that i would not give out IRL. what i think is pertinent for the average networker is to carefully read the TOS of facebook or any other social network site in order to know without question exactly what they are signing themselves up for. that’s the best way to protect yourself, in my opinion.

    • For the reasons you stated above, I do not trust facebook.

      One main reason is that the Facebook office never responded to me trying to change my profile name to just my first name with my last initial.

      Then, I started getting all of this spam from people I did not know at all.

      When I heard that music artists were about to be on facebook, I had to get off. The spam is unbelievable from some on myspace and even on fuzz.com.

      Honestly, as an alum of three schools (high school, college and law school), I was trying to just keep a low profile and connect with people I wanted to reach out to as opposed to people I did not know. I did not like the feature asking me how I knew someone. That is sometimes private from nosy individuals who you do not know that well.

      Further, I was getting leery of my high school (private school alum) and law school running after me for money so that is why I said oh no to facebook too. Though I do donate to my schools, I do not need to be irritated more online in social media outlets when I get weekly emails from my schools asking for donations. And, I get snail mail on this issue too (but I subjected myself for making a donation).

      I am really glad you opened this forum on these issues. Hopefully you will receive an array of comments.

    • Greg

      Hi, I had set up a couple of FB groups as a way to communicate with members of a PTA committee and also for a non-profit student group. With the Beacon issue being what I perceived as a major flip in privacy policy, I couldn’t in good conscience, maintain those groups in FB. I notified my subscribers, rolled up the groups and left Facebook.

    • There are elements that make me uneasy about all these destinations. I usually read the TOS and privacy policies. At one, I followed a listed partner in the TOS to a business that announces its analytics are used by “global corporations and the intelligence community.” Information has become property these days, and I think people are beginning to learn how to protect that property. I was signing up at a site today and entered a fake birthday. The site responded with: “You must enter your real birthday to register.” Hmm.

    • camille

      If you want to use these accounts, well that’s fine. If you don’t want to, well that’s fine also.
      All I’m going to say is that I personally don’t trust anything that is online, but I still use both of these accounts. I just don’t put personal info on there.
      Life is too short to be afraid of the times that are changing. I say, face it with intelligence and caution if you decide to go this route. =)

    • I don’t really trust Facebook, but who DO you trust these days? I’m a privacy advocate who lives his life pretty much as an open book on the web, within limits, and my professional and personal interests have so long overlapped that that genie has been out of the bottle forever.

      I think it’s important for people to understand the limitations of privacy online, and the potential threat of exposure or exploitation of your information, not only by those to whom you entrust it, but by third parties who gain access to it either through negligence or trickery, and then to be prepared to deal with the consequences.

      I have to say that I’m encouraged by some recent developments, however. Facebook’s announcements recently have seemed a little more sophisticated in their acknowledgment of privacy concerns, and their recent membership in the DataPortability Workgroup is a positive sign. See my latest blog post.

    • I really don’t trust companies storing this kind of personal information. However, Gmail has access to way more personal information about me than Facebook or others, so perhaps the Facebook argument is moot. It’s just yet another platform where our behaviors can be analyzed on the macro and micro levels to give more companies opportunities to market to us.

    • i simply do not trust facebook, on HOW they track usage. unlike myspace, its public forum (within facebook) but, when you surf, what products you use, what pages you visit; you relinquish more privacy to add features and friends. and now myspace has joined.

      since highschool, i felt it was a tool to train young people that when we get older, we will loose all rights to privacy.

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