Thursday, August 11, 2011

Facebook didn’t steal your stuff. And don’t click “agree” next time.

Worries over Facebook’s privacy policies continue.  Upon closer examination, the concerns are more broad than Facebook’s specific policies.

The latest episode involves a fairly straightforward practice.  Using the Facebook mobile apps will sync your friends’ contact information between Facebook and your phone.  Only you can see it and you clicked “I agree” in setting up the connection between Facebook and your phone.  But, this alarmed some users when it was “reported.” 

General web usage habits are implicated by this concern.  How many times do we speed through a web-site, clicking “I Agree” multiple times without reading the fine print?  Too often.  Even if Facebook wanted to eat our first born, many would sign right up for it and click “I Agree.  You can have the second one too.”

Some of Mark Zuckerberg’s past cavalier statements about privacy certainly haven’t helped, such as when he reportedly expressed surprise early on that people would so willingly share personal information.  “People just submitted it.  I don’t know why.  They ‘trust me.’  Dumb [expletive].”

But, more than anything, I think folks are reacting to broad concerns over the increasingly public lives we live through our Internet identities.  We subconsciously recognize that we are not reading the license agreements and don’t fully understand the privacy policies.  We hear about people sharing too much in their news feeds.  I don’t believe any of those issues are ultimately Facebook’s fault.

Perhaps it’s time to consider this kind of privacy policy first and foremost…

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