Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Facebook concerns

My brother told me about this online video expressing some concerns about Facebook. Click the title of this entry to go to the film

Should we be worried? Should we come off the site?

Thoughts please

1 comment:

Paul said...

I don't think you should be overly worried or come off the site.

Basically, Facebook is a very large personal information danger, if you allow it to be. It is possible to have it showing your personal details to any Tom, Dick or Harry in one of your networks.

In order to do this though, you have to actually give it that information... You can also easily ramp up your privacy settings. I personally don't have a problem with people in my networks knowing my website address - that's why I have a website! I do have a problem with everyone having access to my phone number. To avoid that, I could have not given my phone number, but instead I have restricted access to limited people. People who are genuinely my friends. People who I would be happy giving my phone number to anyway.

It's common sense really. As to the rest of it, how your information may be put to use sounds like standard legal boilerplate. It may never actually be acted upon, but it stops others from claiming the right. The stats given as examples, like information about "how many college age women hold conservative views" may be interesting for market research purposes, but there is nothing personally identifiable in that.

As for the connections with the more interesting and fringe elements of conspiracy theories, they are linking Facebook to a project that hasn't existed in a meaningful form since before Facebook itself became open to the majority of internet users. If the Information Awareness Office actually posed the threat that is implied, it wouldn't be taking the information from Facebook - it would have far more sophisticated and less traceable means of finding out what it wanted!

So, from a personal point of view, I'd say that Facebook is as safe as any other social network tool on the internet. Keep an eye on who exactly is in your friends list, what information you give the site, and how you set your privacy options, and you should be fine.

You wouldn't walk into a pub and tell everyone your home address and phone number - apply the same principles to Facebook.