More on Facebook Photos and Privacy

So I noticed earlier this week that your profile photo was being sent out to anyone who had you as a contact on through the iPhone app, today F-Secure points out something about private photos that you might not have noticed, that anyone with access to them can share them!

Still, complaints about privacy aside, I think they have the best bit of advice:

There’s is a very simple solution. If you absolutely don’t want to share it, then don’t upload it to a SOCIAL networking site.

I’d have to agree. Ultimately, even if Facebook did fix all the little holes and give you a chance to lock down every little bit of your profile to just a select group, there’s nothing stopping that group from doing screen captures, or whatever, and sharing it with the whole world! If you really want to keep something private, don’t post it online. Such a simple rule, it boggles the mind that so few seem capable of following it.

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  1. Privacy (like trust) isn't a binary proposition, though. Sure, I probably don't mind my profile pic being public, but my friends list and all my group memberships? No thanks. I dropped Facebook a few weeks ago (inactivated, not deleted, at least for now). I had enough trouble with every page or group getting suggested to one's friends, but finally had it with the December changes.

    But I do recognize your point, as a long-time preacher of the "information wants to be free" gospel. I recognize the inherent tension between these points; I'm not done thinking about this.

  2. Kyle, I can appreciate the tension. On the other hand I think to myself, isn't privacy on Facebook a bit of an illusion anyway? Even if I decided to keep my groups private, on the group page it identifies you, doesn't it? And friends are always capable of sharing any information that you limit to them sharing with the rest of the world. Like I said, even if they put in place very strict privacy defaults, anything you post on a social networking site is going to be seen by someone, and that leaves the potential for it to be passed on, thus losing your privacy.

    Seems to me that the decision to make friends and profile photos public was a direct response to Twitter, which shows all your followers and who you follow, and your profile photo by default. Even if you lock your twitter account everyone can still see those things, it just takes a little more work to identify people you're interested in on Twitter than it does on FB.

    Ultimately, I look at it this way. I may identify with a religious or political group personally, but wouldn't necessarily share that information with certain groups of people. (Coworkers, clients, professional peers, etc.) If I want to be part of a group to talk about religion, for example, I'll go to church, not Facebook. That part of my life can stay private simply by keeping it off the internet.

    Everyone has to identify if, and how, they want to use social networking tools and what they want to share. There's no right answer.

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