Facebook's Arrogance

Facebook has been in the news for opening up much of the information on their members' personal accounts to a much broader audience. It's not just that they've made this change, they also made it difficult if not impossible for users to protect themselves. In order to opt out, you are forced to go to 50 settings with more than 170 options. (They say it's to give their users more precise control, but I believe that it's really to confuse and deceive their users.)

What they've done is to compromise your privacy beyond what any other popular site has ever done. Your personal information and even photos can now be seen by strangers. So understand this clearly. They've enticed hundreds of millions to join under a policy that protected users' privacy. Then after they've gotten everyone hooked, they open up everyone's information, without offering the opportunity to accept or reject the changes. Sounds like bait and switch to me.

Even deleting your account won't protect you. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Facebook is trying to trick their users into allowing them to keep their data even after they've "deleted" their account. But if you just delete your account, they still will retain your data and make it accessible to their commercial clients.

If you're a Facebook user my advice is to opt out if the company has not completely rescinded these policies by the end of the month. But do take the time to remove your information first. That's what I'm doing, and that's what noted tech bloggers and reporters such as Corey Doctorow (BoingBoing.com) and Leo Laporte (twit.tv) are doing.

The company has committed a serious breech of its users' information for their own commercial benefit, and if there's justice in this world, they will see their usage and popularity plummet. That would be a good example for other sites, who's owners think they are too big and important to consider what their customers want.

What they've done should make all of us think carefully before relying on any sites personal privacy rules. They can change overnight.