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Are you worried about Facebook privacy?

12:36 UK time, Friday, 14 May 2010

Facebook has downplayed the significance of a company-wide meeting to discuss privacy issues. Should Facebook rethink its privacy rules?

The blogosphere described the meeting as a panic measure following weeks of criticism over the way Facebook handles members' data. Facebook said it was an opportunity for employees "to ask questions on a topic that has received a lot of outside interest".

The meeting took place after a number of high-profile users deleted their accounts when the site introduced a new feature that lets non-Facebook websites, or third parties, post the personal views of Facebook users without their consent.

Several US senators have made public calls for Facebook to rethink its privacy safeguards and earlier this week European data protection officials weighed in on the controversy and called privacy changes "unacceptable".

Are you happy with Facebook's privacy policy? Could more be done to revamp the policy to protect users' privacy? What changes would you like to see made?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I am starting to get a bit annoyed with Facebook. It started off well, and I like a lot of things about it, like being able to share photos with my family in Canada, looking at funny videos my friends have posted and using the events tool for inviting people to parties. But I don’t like the gradual creep towards internet domination that they seem to have embarked on. Why do they need to make it so much more intrusive? I’ve read about the plans to link it to all sorts of other websites, and I think it’s pretty silly. I don’t understand why they have to keep messing with something that works just fine as it is, at the expense of seriously annoying their users. Its almost as though they have forgotten that users are not their property, and that we don’t come on facebook to be sold to! I don’t want to have to check my privacy settings every single time I read something on the news. I don’t want people I haven’t linked to see anything of my profile, in the same way that I wouldn’t want them snooping through my email inbox and peering through my curtains! Facebook need to remember what they set out to do in the first place and get back to providing the sort of service that people want before they start losing people in droves. If they want to make more money then they need to come up with new ideas rather than flogging the one they have until it doesn’t even resemble the site people first enjoyed using.

    I know this is going to trigger a lot of ‘You don’t need it, just delete it, you’re a moron for having it in the first place’ comments, but it really is such a useful site, and I would miss using for all sorts of things. I guess if you’re a bit older or don’t have many friends, or all your family live in the same place then it isn’t much use to you, but hey, it’s a social networking tool, so it’s really only relevant to people who have a social network!

  • Comment number 2.

    I am very concerned with the lack of control of my personal information. I have not entered too much in to their database because I was dubious about them keeping it safe. My fears have been well founded. During one of their changes everyone's mobile phone numbers were displayed for all to see. I & many of my online friends have been very concerned at facebook's disregard for users security & privacy. As already reported the default setting is to allow everything to be public. Even if you have set your privacy very high applications can still obtain your information if one of your friends has accepted the application & there is nothing you can do about it.

    The most current security concern is that due to a screw up in the system many accounts were sending out friend requests without the owners knowledge. There are also a myriad of fake gifting apps which use the name of popular apps & say you'll get items free if you join the app. As far as I can see they're purely information gathering exercises & am concerned they're more sinister. Facebook are not very quick to take these apps down, but are quick to respond to false reports from game players falsely reporting others purely to get their accounts disabled over in game disputes. Facebook's customer service is practically nonexistent, it can take days weeks even months to resolve anything with facebook. My partner had his account suspended with no explanation or reason. It took 2 months of persistence for his account to be reinstated & facebook were no help whatsoever, they didn't respond to our e-mails & when the account was reinstated there was no communication from them to say it would be nor an apology for the massive inconvenience it caused.

  • Comment number 3.

    This is significant but there are a couple of things here:

    - Since 70% of the 'personal content' on Facebook is 'OMG I am bored', who honestly cares if non-facebook sites are wasting bandwith republishing them?

    - Ultimately Facebook runs Facebook. If you wish to hold a private conversation and/or share private information either talk to the intended party by other means, or figure out to comply/use their privacy settings properly. Sure it does sound complicated and could use some work, but it isn't rocket science.

    - If you don't like it then leave. If enough people leave, Facebook will fix this overnight. They are not in BUSINESS to provide you with a nice place to store pictures for free and get nothing in return. Would you fund the continual (expensive) running of probably one of the biggest known sites in the Western world and not seek out revenue streams? It's hillarious how some people them deleting their Facebook account is somehow earth shatteringly important.

    We're two steps away from Facebook emo brigade entering saying 'it's against our civil liberties, its niiinnnnne-teeen-eiiiggghty---four'. It really isn't.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think the privacy controls on facebook are very good. I can control what specific people I'm friends with see if I want and I can control exactly what people who aren't friends with me can see. I think the main problem is people don't know how to use the privacy controls properly and in general people are just over reacting to something that isn't a serious issue.

  • Comment number 5.

    Facebook Users:

    Should retain all rights to the data they upload to the site.

    Should have the ability to delete their accounts within 48 hours.

    Should have the ability to specify that their account be completely private if they so wish and to block unknown 3rd parties from their entire profile and activities.

    Should have the maturity to realise that what gets onto the net is effectively in the public sphere by default.

  • Comment number 6.

    No, I'm not worried - I am intelligent enough to follow the simple instructions and set my FB page so that my privacy is intact. You can't legislate against stupid

  • Comment number 7.

    I still can't see the problem with Facebook's privacy settings. You can select whether you want the things you post to be visible to just your friends, networks or everyone. Then you can customise further if you want. What's wrong with that?

  • Comment number 8.

    Trivial nonsense.

    Wouldn't touch it with a bargepole.

  • Comment number 9.

    The problem with facebook is the lack of controls that teenagers have when dispaying personal information.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Facebook,the internet version of an add in the personals page of the Daily Sport.For every one of you with fair enough reasons to advertise yourself and your friends,contacts,relatives,there are thousands of purely idiotic,narcissistic,self-obsessed attention seekers who seem to think that all and sundry may be interested in their new haircut and where they went to get drunk the night before.what a sad and sorry bunch of losers,to think that any of us give two hoots about the petty inconsequentialities of their day-to-day existence.Maybe in the future,when to go outside is to enter an airless,radioactive wasteland,I'll see a reason to have a facebook page(but I doubt it),until then I will continue to disdain such witless exposure of the intimate details of my life,after all,who but an extremely bored housebound individual,could care less about my day-to-day life and its details? Still,its an easy way for the state to know everything about you,or didn't you all realise that Mi5,Mi6 and SIS at GCHQ,record every moment of Facebook? Make a Freedom of Information request concerning your own Facebook page,and see what happens......

  • Comment number 12.

    I deactivated my Facebook account a few months ago so have been out of the loop for awhile now.

    One thing I’ve never understood though is why on earth would you choose to add someone as a friend if you didn't want them to see certain pictures or parts of your profile? Surely if you are that wary of them you wouldn't add/except them in the first place.

  • Comment number 13.

    I have no facebook page; so ı'm relax and happyyy:):)

  • Comment number 14.

    Facebook has always made a complete hash both of privacy issues, and explaining members' rights under their terms. It's the reason I've never signed up.

  • Comment number 15.

    Facebook, like Twitter, is for those sorry people who have too much time on their hands, and no lives outside their PC's or Blackberry's. If Facebook happens to leak their details, then I have absolutely no sympathy, they should not have divulged anything important in the first place.

  • Comment number 16.

    Don't use facebook... never have.... never will.

    Honestly, I am struggling to think of a bigger waste of internet bandwidth but, I can't. Facebook tops the pile.

    People need to get a life and do things the old fashioned way. Speak to people... you remember that don't you ? Come on, you must remember having a conversation with someone without using a keyboard!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Never used facebook, never will, I have a life.

    Put my personal details out for every nutter to read and comment about, do me a favour.

    If you put any information about yourself out in the public domain expect the worst, you won't be dissapointed.

    I am countinously asked for my e-mail address. Today it was from an animal charity that gets money from re-cyled printer cartridges. I left the space blank, allways do.

    Sad, sad people.

  • Comment number 18.

    2. At 1:13pm on 14 May 2010, Queen_Becci_B wrote:


    I am sorry your partner had a bad customer service experience and yes getting an answer from Facebook about anything is tricky.

    This is fundamentally a question of funding and a few good articles have been published really debating the future of Facebook - they're getting more and more users but without an effective way to generate revenue (and the managers of FB are struggling with this question too) then there can be no huge customer service team on hand to deal with issues like your partner faced effectively. It may seem that they don't care but (respectfully) you're not paying for a service in the same way you can expect good customer service from places like Tescos.

    Subscription fees would be extremely controversial. So in the interim they have to try things like linking information to accounts that have the appropriate privacy settings to non-FB sites. If I were them I would do too, as long as the options were in place to stop the practice if should the user care enough about the issue to actually take some time (half an hour tops) to read up on just where on the net they are pouring out their lives.

  • Comment number 19.

    'Are you worried about Facebook privacy'?

    Facebook has been helpful for many trying to launch business ideas and music bands? Furthermore, there are opportunities for those 'ripped off' to post their engaging demonstrations?

    However, perhaps Facebook was launched to be the next tech bubble? Who knows?

    Whether you are on Facebook or not, just never, ever forget you are always vulnerable when using the internet - especially when banking or buying online? Many sites look like the 'real thing'?

    Sadly, our banks are saving money by encouraging internet banking - but if your server goes down - no help whatsoever? Lesson - keep YOUR money where you live and where you can access it when you need it - it's your money!

  • Comment number 20.

    "1. At 1:09pm on 14 May 2010, Capella2008 wrote:
    I guess if you’re a bit older or don’t have many friends, or all your family live in the same place then it isn’t much use to you, but hey, it’s a social networking tool, so it’s really only relevant to people who have a social network!"

    Meow! - so is this a set of tick boxes?! Do you still have a social network if the site crashes for a while?

    Seriously, as so many people do manage to compromise themselves I wonder if there should be a higher age limit? Apart from that, regardless of how many settings and safeguards you have on a website, someone is always going to be able to access something that they shouldn't, and it won't be anything to do with not following procedures correctly.

    Once information has been placed in the public domain, even if it has been removed again, you cannot delete it from people's memory or copies they may have made. Does anyone actually have any comeback against Facebook if privacy is breached? If not - there really are other means of keeping in touch. My reason for not using it, anyway.

  • Comment number 21.

    What's the problem? It's not exactly rocket science to work out how to use the Facebook privacy settings. People just need to take five minutes to look at this then they shouldn't have any difficulty. If you can't be bothered to do this, it's hardly Facebook's fault, is it?!

  • Comment number 22.

    I have no problem with Facebook doing as it pleases. I don't want my life spread all over the web, so I don't put it on there. If I want to share things with friends/family I just use email. Problem solved.

    P.S. I can't help wondering just how many people are going to come a cropper in years to come when something they posted today comes back to haunt them in 20 years time!

  • Comment number 23.

    'Are you worried about Facebook Privacy'?

    Any internet site you visit is a risk to your privacy including the BBC?

    Facebook has yet to understand and 'face-up' to it's impact - never mind explain it. Facebook has to rethink it's responsibility and it's values to 'random' access to the most vulnerable by the most 'parasitic'?

    Not a member of Facebook - for one reason only - a charter for internet nutters exploiting 'normal' internet users - young and old - all vulnerable for same and different reasons?

  • Comment number 24.

    I don't understand the problem. It's like anything else, only put on it what you don't mind being shared with the world. If you want it to remain private, don't post it. Simples. I mean would you give your address and mobile number to people on the street? No, so why post it on facebook??

  • Comment number 25.

    The only concern about Facebook privacy is when it gets updated and the privacy settings on an account default back to "open to everyone" without telling the user.

    For those who say "delete it if you don't like it": If, for instance, BT started publishing details of customers who had opted to be ex-directory you would expect something to be done rather than telling people to like-it-or-lump-it.

  • Comment number 26.

    I am having problems putting my photo back on facebook and sometimes chat goes down and sounds like someone has been messing about with my proflie without asking but we should be more secuity on facebook and why are you going to charge for facebook and we will never pay for it and it comes with the package with three network and we get free calls to 3 to 3 and free 200 texts and free facebook and i use my phone or now i use three internet gongles and wish the facebook company stop messing with the updates this has to stop right now and why wounder people make compaints to u michael Nottingham

  • Comment number 27.

    No person with intelligence should be worried. If you don't want to have any personal information revealed, the solution is obvious - don't give it.

  • Comment number 28.

    I have written on this subject before. One of my granddaughters wrote rather immature comments on FaceBook about her father and within a short while it was common knowledge amongst friends and relatives.

    When I advised the sixteen year old about the wisdom of writing personal details online she did not apprecieate my interference and I haven't heard from her since.

    These youngsters are of the opinion that they are in control and know better than their elders when it comes to modern technology. I would like it if the social networks marshalled their own sites with regards to privacy.

  • Comment number 29.

    "What's the problem? It's not exactly rocket science to work out how to use the Facebook privacy settings. People just need to take five minutes to look at this then they shouldn't have any difficulty. If you can't be bothered to do this, it's hardly Facebook's fault, is it?!"

    And you really think that stops your details being passed to every spammer, marketeer, advertiser, government department and snooper who asks/pays for them. You must have led a very sheltered life.

  • Comment number 30.

    'Facebook' has sooo much information about all it's 'members' and 'visitors' collected 24/7 and 365 days of the year?

    All internet sites you visit, including the fabulous BBC, is tracking and gathering info' via a 'cookie' on this comment you are reading?

    Oh, for the 'record' - so not critical of any internet monitoring or information gathering by any information company, cookie or internet 'authority' whatsoever.

    Every 'average' person posting their opinion - whether extreme; or irritated; angry or mildly annoyed or recommend what our politicians should or shouldn't do are 'listed' forever? Could everyone, just remember that the internet is not free and increasingly designed to monitor people, rather than their genuine opinion. Even as I post - deep down am afraid to do so - even on the BBC? How scary is that?

  • Comment number 31.

    I can't see the use of social networking sites - and to those who say that if you don't have an account on Facebook or Twitter etc then you are a saddo with no life, blah, blah, my response is that I do have a life otherwise I would be dead!

  • Comment number 32.

    I don't actually know what Facebook is and have certainly never read it. What type of book is it?

  • Comment number 33.

    I've never been on on facebook & never will be, yet curiously I still think I have a valid opinion on a web application about which I have only the most tennuous understanding.

    Just thought I'd join in with all the others.

  • Comment number 34.

    If you don't want your information all over the Internet, don't put it there.


  • Comment number 35.

    I deactivated my facebook account when they had the last bout of privacy issues, or was it the one before that. I hardly used it anyway so no loss, but Facebook really don't seem to want to respect people's wish to have some privacy on their site and I'm glad to see this is starting to get attention at last.

  • Comment number 36.

    sometimes ı think it is waste of time; because my frends often spend their times on it. ı think users should be careful, it is not necessary a lot. people should spend their time with their frends in a natural environments like a garden, park,ext, or do art activities.Time is running and valuable that we could not catch it.. why do people want to share special things on it ? is it a need? .......

  • Comment number 37.

    "24. At 2:25pm on 14 May 2010, jacko_484_terrier wrote:
    I don't understand the problem. It's like anything else, only put on it what you don't mind being shared with the world. If you want it to remain private, don't post it. Simples. I mean would you give your address and mobile number to people on the street? No, so why post it on facebook??"


    You are of course right, but there was a stage where you could limit who could find you and even set it so that only friends could find your details, of course the goalposts were moved but hey, it's always a risk that will happen when you give your details to another entity.

  • Comment number 38.

    simple, dont put personal information or things that you dont want people knowing about - on there!!! people take FB far too seriously that is the problem.

  • Comment number 39.

    I am happy enough with Facebook's privacy settings. In any case I post, or profile, almost no personal info.
    I am far more concerned that users of BBC HYS have their comments come up through Goole. They don't come up with 'user-name' but with real name. I always thought 'user-name' was to give some privacy. It means, of course, that Google has any personal info you have had to give when opening an account wuth BBC HYS.
    I personally don't care who reads my views but some folk might not want others to understand their political leanings. That's surely why we have 'user-names'

  • Comment number 40.

    There are a lot of people who seem to be unhappy with the privacy issue with FaceBook, yet your account's privacy settings are user choice. You decide what you don't want to share and with who. I have to admit though, FB have made it a complicated procedure and I would like to see it made easier. Saying that though, I do not share anything on there that I don't want others to see. The problem is that we have too much of a "it's somebody else's fault" culture in which people seem to refuse to take responsibility for their own actions and choices. All you need to do is to take a little care in what information you make available on FB.

  • Comment number 41.


  • Comment number 42.

    There is nothing called privacy on Facebook, for any & every application you want to use you automatically give up access to all your info.

    Guess one just has to live with it.

  • Comment number 43.

    I wouldn't have a Facebook account for the very reason of personal information usage. I don' t mind making a few comments on HYS from time to time, but to publish my movements, photographs and personal thoughts is a complete anathema to me. No organisation is inert and will naturally develop and evolve overtime, that is human nature. Facebook and others I fear, perceive that information given freely and innocently by others is theirs to use, manipulate and profit from as they see fit. Information is valuable and most of us give it away without a second thought, often in return for nothing or a few points on a loyalty card. I would say, be wise, be smart, only publish on the internet what you would wish the whole world to see, cut up your loyalty cards and let big business pay you for what they want to know.

  • Comment number 44.

    25. At 2:29pm on 14 May 2010, toni49 wrote:

    For those who say "delete it if you don't like it": If, for instance, BT started publishing details of customers who had opted to be ex-directory you would expect something to be done rather than telling people to like-it-or-lump-it.


    This is a good valid point. All I would say is that in both cases theres a difference between disagreeing with a practice and it being a technical breach of the terms and conditions you sign when entering into either service.

    From a regulatory point of view (and considering Facebook isn't comparable in that sense to BT), if there is no breach then it becomes a customer satisfaction/subjective issue. With BT you have no choice to an extent since they hold a monopoly in terms of getting a landline - even just to use as a gateway to use another provider. As such regulation and complaints in whether those terms were made clear vs. customers who just click and sign without reading anything can in fairness expect relatively good scrutiny if enough people make enough noise.

    Faceboook have a myriad of competitors so it's in their interests to self-regulate and act on this - if enough people feel seriously and leave FB (not just threaten), then something will be done. If not then it won't.

  • Comment number 45.

    I deactivated my account with facebook almost a year ago,
    I feel very uncomfortable with how much information is passed through, I can honestly say I don't miss this site , if I want to post something to friends I give them my email address which I have had since 1997 or I use twitter to blog.
    Facebook is indeed what it says it is a "Facebook" I can't help thinking of George orwell .. I have heard comments at work about other people and the information they have found out about them on facebook.. next its getting the kids to deactivate , probably impossible

  • Comment number 46.

    32. At 2:54pm on 14 May 2010, Chris wrote:
    I don't actually know what Facebook is and have certainly never read it. What type of book is it?
    and you are happy then:) :):):)

  • Comment number 47.

    I have deactivated my FB account, because I see no sense in it. It used to be fun, until you realise that people you don't really care about start tagging you as a "friend" to up their numbers. It is quite superficial. You keep in touch with your real friends in person, and the rest of it is just noise, with the obligatory poke and wall message here and there. Even if you don't include any personal information in your status (e.g., the fact that you will be out of the country for two weeks), you can't control people posting messages about these on your wall. There are other ways of sharing photos with friends and families. Give FB a boot, and get a life!

  • Comment number 48.

    Facebook only need a confirmed email address, who on earth would add personal details that are correct?

    If you have kids though, take a look at their and their friends pages, if you dare!

  • Comment number 49.

    'Are you worried about 'Facebook' privacy'? is the HYS question.

    YES, totally! Our grown up children have full security measures in place. However, it has failed. Why? 'Facebook' and it's customers can be compared to a corralled area of sheep with broken gates and surrounded by predators?

  • Comment number 50.

    I'll make this really simple:

    If you don't like Facebook's polices/how the site works, don't use Facebook.

    No one is being forced to use that site.

    That this is even NEWS worthy is amazing.

  • Comment number 51.

    Facebook? - Please!!!!

    Why would I want to have virtual friends when I have got real ones that I can talk to face to face without fear of being digitally raped?

    Get a life people - Try going down to the pub or wine bar and have a drink and a chat with some real people, it is a lot more fulfilling than spending hours in font of your computer worrying about your privacy settings.

  • Comment number 52.

    No. Since I don't use these sites.

    In fact I really don't understand why they are popular - the stuff people have shown me on their facebook page is utter drivel... "here I am washing my car" etc. zzzzzzzz

  • Comment number 53.

    I joined Facebook about a year ago, and my membership lasted all of four days. Where did they all come from, these people from my past, wanting to be my friend, eager to share my present life?
    Had I wanted to have remained in contact with them, I'd have remained in contact - don't people understand that simple concept?
    Never again!

  • Comment number 54.

    My suggestion would be to remember that it has a page extension of ".com" Which means it is in the business of making "filthy lucre". ;-]

    They are not doing it for my benefit, particularly. So, I limit the info I'm willing to share.

    It has been since issues of privacy were raised, about a year ago. That has seen a re-vamping and the other intrusions that are employed, especially from the off-site vendors. For example, their games. They all now want to have your email address. Then you]re inundated with emails from the game site. All this leads to revenue, for the site Facebook and their vendors. Bought to us, the users, over privacy concerns.

    Perhaps, I'll switch to "Myspace"?

  • Comment number 55.

    What does "deactivate" do? It just means YOU can't access your account any longer. Who knows what all info ABOUT you is still on their servers waiting to be "discovered by some alien device?

    I didn't just request Deactivation from Facebook, I specifically demanded the removal of all files and references pertaining to my account.

    I am also a member of several other social networking sites, but where conditions require that information "must be accurate & honest" I purposefully breach those conditions and invent any personal info they insist on. My various IP addresses already give them more info than they require.

  • Comment number 56.

    It's perfectly possible to set your Facebook privacy settings to restrict whatever you want (except your name and profile picture). There are two problems though:
    1. Facebook doesn't make it easy. I work in the area of information security and privacy, and I had a tough job doing it.
    2. The default settings are weak. All good systems set the default to the strongest settings, and then allow the users to slacken them if they wish.

    The biggest concern though isn't about Facebook. it's about the 99% of users who don't know there's an issue or don't care because they know what the risks are.

  • Comment number 57.

    The issue Facebook faces now is due to its interest in becoming the number one search engine in the world. Just last month, a study came out showing that more people typed in Facebook than Google in their browser, something that's never happened before. The move to "like" everything is FB's attempt to link the web to itself so that every move you make on FB is tracked and indexed for use by advertisers to target ads to you. The founder of FB has been very clear he's not interested in privacy, not so much that he wants to steal your personal information, but that the core idea of FB was to rid the Internet of anonymous sharing of information and move it to a certified personal sharing of information.

    Although FB has been adopted by many, first as a means to connect with friends and family and then as a means of social marketing, it may end up that FB becomes a first generation platform, replaced by newer and more private means of networking. At the end of the day, if you have nothing to hide in your personal life, you shouldn't have a problem using FB. And if you do, or value your privacy, then turn FB off and do something else. Now that you've found old friends on FB, there's no reason you can use the telephone or email to say hi to them. Those platforms still work just as well last time I checked.

  • Comment number 58.

    I joined facebook when it was university students only, at that time it was a great way to keep in touch with school friends once you scattered across the world. Last week I closed my facebook account after four years or so because I was suddenly being bombarded with adverts, my news feed taken over by companies trying to sell me everything listed in my interests. This is absolutely unacceptable, and passing on personal comments without consent surely cannot, and certainly should not, be legal. The site has transformed from a means to keep in touch with friends, into a means for facebook to sell your life back to you and to others without any regard whatsoever for privacy or morality. Deactivate your accounts and walk away, this is simply wrong.

  • Comment number 59.

    If you post your life on Facebook you have pretty well started to sacrifice your privacy. It is a decision you take. how much does it matter to you. Then again how much time do you really want to spend telling people how you just eat a peach.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think there are several issues here not just privacy- as some posts note your real friends have your email and phone and can contact you easily and you don't have people "creeping" through your life.

    As to the privacy issues perhaps if people knew a bit more about NETWORK theory they might realize that even with Privacy controls there are always loopholes particularly if you are a even a little internet or computer literate. I received personal information on someone that wasn't my friend nor I hers via someone who was my friend and wasn't using privacy controls. As an experiment I also decided to see how much info I could get on someone who hadn't friended me and was surprised to see how easy it was.
    I know people who have lost jobs over Facebook posts and photos.

    The worst aspect for me as someone who teaches college students is that many of my students are addicted - have it open on their laptops or iphones in class in case they miss some trivial item that would leave them out of the loop in their social network, then come to me after class to ask about something discussed because they missed it while Facebooking. Also it can cause a lot of arguments, bullying and broken relationships as one "friend" accidently or deliberately posts info about another person that is then common knowledge to all their "friends". We really need to consider what effects it is having on social interaction.

    As someone else noted it seems a novelty at first but deleting my account was the best thing I did - guess what my life is fine and I know what all my friends are doing they just simply email me.

  • Comment number 61.

    We have a choice. When these IT mega companies go into ego overdrive then we simply take our interest in them somewhere else. Virtual communities can serve very useful purposes but its like local politics. You can vote them out by turning the other way. If Facebook carries on like this I will close my account down and get on with reality.

  • Comment number 62.

    The whole point of Facebook is for users to share information about themselves with people they know. If your 300 facebook friends can read your messages are you telling me they are still somehow 'private'?

    Common sense is key here, however, of course Facebook does need careful regulation.

  • Comment number 63.

    Facebook has turned itself into a living nightmare - Stephen King should write a novel about it. Seeing my facebook details turn up on another website I was visting was a totally alarming experience. So I have done the decent thing and permanently deleted my account. So facebook - RIP. Now, would some bright young programmer now come up with something that is safe, simple and effective that we all can use? Thanks

  • Comment number 64.

    Facebook and other sites hold and often display information which potentially makes identity theft much easier. Having your real date of birth displayed anywhere on the internet is absolute madness, it's a vital piece of information in opening accounts under your name.
    People often have other information about themselves on such sites that can help criminals steal their identity or guess their passwords. For example its no good choosing your dogs name, say Timmy, and putting a 1 on the end and using Timmy1 as your bank password if you then tell everyone on facebook that you have a dog called Timmy.
    Giving your address or information that allows someone to figure out your address is another big no no. If you give out your surname and the area where you live then a thief may be able to work out your address and that can be enough.
    In other cases a thief may gain information about you from another source, perhaps a bill you've thrown out or some other source like the electoral register and then find you on a social networking site and use that to gain extra useful information.
    Imagine your difficulties when you find not only has someone run up huge bills in your name on a credit card and when you complain to the bank you find they had your correct name, address and date of birth and gave correct answers to all the security questions.
    So you say it wasn't you who opened the account with us and yet not only did the person who opened it know your name, address, date of birth but they used the correct answers for your mothers name, your dogs name and your best friends name in the security questions.

    I'm not saying don't join these sites, just be careful what information you give them, remember they may pass it on it to someone else who is less careful with it and just because some internet site asks for your date of birth doesn't mean they're entitled to get it, you can always lie.

  • Comment number 65.

    It's not only the privacy issue that threatens Facebook's future. It's their disregard for customers and flawed advertising model that will also let them downn.

    This company is earning a lot of money from its millions of users, yet has NO customer support and critical failures in its process.

    My company created a Facebook Page a few weeks ago, and spend about £500 buying Facebook ads to promote the page. 2 weeks later, they deleted our page (with no reason given) while continuing to chase us for payment of advertising fees! I have been trying for a week to find a way to actually talk to someone at Facebook to resolve the issue, with no success.

    What sort of way to treat your customers is that?

  • Comment number 66.

    With seeing this article, I can't help but remember back to McDonald's being caught out in the '90s towards how it made its food and the subsequent debate and media attention on the food-service industry. Maybe we need another Supersize Me, but 3D; maybe we need another FastFood Nation, but readable on the iPad instead. In either case, I can't help feeling like we've got another international conglomerate who feels its product is irreplaceable and can therefore do whatever it wants.

  • Comment number 67.

    I think we have to accept that Facebook is in the hands of the advertisers who want to garner as much information about each of us as they can. Privacy is therefore going to be a bit of a joke. Either accept this and take care what information you put out there or delete your account. The sad fact is that children, not being as worldly wise or cynical as adults, put far too much detail of themselves and their family on their profiles.

  • Comment number 68.

    I started using facebook two years ago, to keep up with what my family and friends were doing. Today I have discovered, on entering a foreign news service site, that there was a pane on the right giving details of what my friends were doing. I have never visited this site before and was aghast at what I was seeing. They had access to at least some of my information. Even though I have conscientiously trawled through the privacy settings on a frequent basis - a third party site, without my permission, have been granted access to my details.
    At the very least facebook need to rethink the privacy (and, ultimately security) of their users and make the strictest settings the normal ones and everything else opt into.

  • Comment number 69.

    I can't believe people are only now getting upset about the privacy issues with Facebook. I got rid of my Facebook account back when I found out that applications could view and log all of your user information, and there was no way around it, and this was around 2 years ago.

    I was also shocked when my Google mail account automatically signed me up for "buzz." My goodness, can any web-base company respect my privacy?

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    Facebook is good to know about the other people around the world.

    But I am not with those people who abuse the facility.

  • Comment number 72.

    Whats this face book for ?
    whats the point ?
    Got nothing better to do ?

  • Comment number 73.

    I have never been enthusiastic about FB, only joined because friends kept sending invitations, but then I realized everyone, including me, could read comments, inane or intelligent, by others, chat messages of others,
    etc. Who cares about what they cooked today or which movie they liked...

    Therefore I wrote to my friends and relatives to just email me or send photos to my private email address, not through FB. Who cares how I or they look nowadays, it's not for the whole FB members to see. I simply want privacy!

  • Comment number 74.

    I believe that companies who collect personal information have a responsibility to safeguard that information to protect their customers from physical and psychological harm, as well as the loss of money and property. There, that's out of the way.

    Let's be real. Facebook exists to make money. They make their money by selling advertising, and all good advertising is targeted, so they need to give their customers (advertisers) something to aim at (you, and your personal information, specifically). This is the cost to we the users for Facebook's services (you thought it was free?). If we are unwilling to pay that cost, then we ought not use the service.

  • Comment number 75.

    I don't know the ins & outs of Facebook users. If 3rd parties can make comments then it follows Facebook users should have the facility & right to reply. The interaction will make for great entertainment!

  • Comment number 76.

    I think that Facebook is a toy. I also think that it is one of many internety things that has created a culture of narcisism, what in my sphere we call 'snowflakes' (that one is oh so special and oh so unique.)

    As a toy, it has no business collecting nor distributing nor even being suspected of parsing out personal information. (maxim: 'Caesar's wife must be above suspicion.') The same applies to MySpace, blog spaces, etc. Advertisers have no business whatsoever collecting any kind of statistical data about people's behaviors. If they want to advertise, fine. But that is as far as it goes. You take your chances (with "effectiveness") equally along with the rest of us. Life is an exercise in stabbing in the dark. Get the message.

    I believe that, quite frankly, nobody wants to know who you are; we frankly could care less what your little special interests are, and most certainly what is going on at every 2nd moment during your life. If your social life is so vapid and such a void, Facebook is not going to fix that. It will only make it worse.

  • Comment number 77.

    When it comes to giving out personal info., "just lie, lie, lie".

    On the interweb, all lies are the truth

  • Comment number 78.

    There is no privacy on internet even no privacy for personal e-mail,some can steal your password and can open it any time,also any site you visit to is a risk to your privacy including world medias sites.It would not be wrong to say that internet is a kind of space publishing so if you enter to this space there is no safety for your privacy.

  • Comment number 79.

    I joined Facebook and abandoned it in less than 10 minutes because of what I consider a very abusive practice. In the so-called "list of suggested friends", there was the last person in the world that I want to have as a social contact. Reason : we have exchanged e-mails about one year ago, and that e-mail address is still in my Windows Live Messenger list, and only there.

    So, Facebook invaded a private database of mine on another www service, what I never authorized. I´m pretty sure that this is the only way they could get that name.

    Mr. Zuckerberg needs to understand that people join social networking services to meet online who they want, not to have their private lives sneaked. OK, get, use and have profit with the private data that I enter into Facebook, but no further. What will they do next, use our names for data mining finance, govern, or health services databases ?

  • Comment number 80.

    Recently on facebook I was prompted to link my account to other "pages". As I declined to do so, some information on my person were taken off the public view. Designed as a punishment, I didn't mind facebook doing that.

    In general, facebook is confusing. It's hard, if possible at all, for the user to control the information trail left behind.

    An honest user won't have to fear a thing, though.

  • Comment number 81.

    Never put anything on Facebook that you wouldn't mind you parent, spouse or employer seeing. Quite simple.

  • Comment number 82.

    facebook? about as interesting as dish water, if you have concerns over privacy don't use it! simples!.... there are plenty of other social networking sites available with tighter privacy controls

  • Comment number 83.

    I deleted my facebook account weeks ago. I probably will never have another account.

  • Comment number 84.

    I never gave too much of my information to Facebook. Recently, when I browsed around it, I was amazed at just how much information other people provided about me!

    There were photos of me from the last 5 years, information on where I was and what I did - some of them were uploaded by my friends, others by event organizers who never asked for my permission to even take those photos.

    Sure enough, I'll learn how to deal with it and I may become more camera-shy, but I just wish people were more sensitive about sharing other's information online.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    Some people need a cyber cheering section for every aspect of their lives. In exchange for this they post all manner of things on the site. They wonder why these things are harvested and sold. Fecesbook would be a better name for the site. There is nothing free on the web. Everything can be bought and sold if you find the right customer.

  • Comment number 87.

    This is a really easy issue. Imagine you're a creepy stalker interested in learning the intimate details of a girl who's got her profile locked to friends-only but isn't shy about posting hot details of her life. If the stalker can see her info, FaceBook has a big problem.

    As I understand it, however, said stalker can't see such info absent sneaking onto her friend's list, but there's no preventing that on FB's end.

    Now if some data miner sees the word "Coach" a lot in her profile and starts marketing purses to her in the FB ads, who cares? That's not a 'privacy' issue at all.

    Then the only problem left is whether the data miner's employees is seeing the actual FB page. If yes, their employees are seeing something that you as the FB user locked for friends-only, and that's a problem.

  • Comment number 88.

    This is all funny timing. I am not on face book as ‘I felt I have a life and live friends, why would I waste the time’ and If someone is worthy of talking to me at all we can call each other. I have however had a good number of long distance friends, work friends, and most importantly, pretty girls, suggest I should get on so I tried to set up an account last night, the system must have been overwhelmed as it thought about it for ½ hour then error-ed out.

    I would never even think of using my real name, date of birth or putting any accurate info on there at all so if you lost or had misused actual personal info thru face book, you are probably not too bright anyway and therefore the privacy controls would be too hard to use. This is the internet folks, it is practically all public domain and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy except what YOU choose to share.

  • Comment number 89.

    My worries with Facebook began as soon as I was sitting snuggly in my new Facebook sofa, so to speak. Freshly arrived, I looked at the main page and, to my horror, saw suggestions as to who I might like to get in touch with notably former high school classmates and university colleagues. How did they know that?! I guess I'm still too naive for the far reaching power of the Internet. I deleted my account a few weeks later.

  • Comment number 90.

    I had been fully satisfied until facebook permitted other websites to post its users comments. Facebook should have first regulated this kind of activity in order to protect its users' privacy.

  • Comment number 91.

    I recently noticed the way FB link your 'likes' has changed in the personal info section - for example - in my favorite movies section I had put that I liked the Harry Potter films ... in one of my photo albums (marked private as are ALL my sections - wall postings, friends list, etc, etc) I had posted a picture of my husband at one of the locations from the movies and mentioned this fact in the caption. When I clicked on the strange new Harry Potter link that had appeared in my info section I was alarmed to find my private photo sitting there on the pages of public wall! I than went through my photo albums looking for captions that related to my 'likes' and discovered several other incidents where my pictures appeared on public pages. The only solution I could find to this and keep my 'likes' in my info section was to delete the listing from the individual sections (music, tv, movies, books, etc) and re-write them in the 'about me' box. I was not amused. :-(

  • Comment number 92.

    I'm not worried in the slightest about Facebook because I'm not on it.

    Just think sensibly about it for a moment:

    If the government wanted half the information that people put on it then civil liberties groups would be up in arms!

  • Comment number 93.

    I'm beyond worried about Facebook's intentions. Repeatedly and consistently it has demonstrated and even openly proclaimed very aggressive anti-privacy policies. Let alone the interface having become horrendously bloated and over-complicated, it has very much overshot the original rather sympathetic idea of finding old friends and turned into a shameless data-mining moloch. I urgently advise anyone to remove all their content and (try to) delete their account. It is time to finish and close The Book. We've now all found all our old friends, thank you very much Mr Zuckerberg and goodbye.

  • Comment number 94.

    If you do not use it (am I the only one left?) you do not have to worry...

  • Comment number 95.

    I have no personal experience of Face book, so wouldn't normaly comment. However, a friend recently asked if I knew if it was actually possible to delete a Face book account.
    I have no idea, but experience tells me that it is almost impossible to delete completely anything published on the net.
    So. Can anyone tell me if one can completely delete the information that they may have put on there?
    My friend says that even Face book can't answer that one.

  • Comment number 96.

    What's striking about many comments here is that many users appear not to have any idea about the sneakily clever ways Facebook tracks and exposes its users. Due to the inherent complexity of the way the Internet works, a worrying naivety seems to be the norm. Looking at their latest moves, Facebook apparently assumed it could cash in on this attitude, but I very much hope alert pressure groups and politicians will prevent this.

  • Comment number 97.

    I've been getting annoyed by their lack of privacy by default. Seems like they are putting their targeted-advertising ideas ahead of user privacy (selling out). If they continue down that road, then I'll stop using facebook.

  • Comment number 98.

    why can't facebook just be facebook?

  • Comment number 99.

    No I'm not.

    Facebook have never offered simplicty and security and I am aware of it's flaws.
    I have always worried about my identity and keeping it secure, private and secret.

    Their are many crooks and hackers on the internet these days.

    I have never been egotistical enough to ever want to claim I have thousands of friends so I have never joined facebook.

    Why do people follow in herds like foolish sheep to slaughter.

    Sad world I guess.

    I have friends who I communicate with by email and that's good enough for me.

    Mr Mouse

  • Comment number 100.

    There are two types of Facebook users: Those who use it primarily to share snapshots and gossip with family and friends; and those who use it to meet new people around the world who share common interests. I am definitely in the latter group, since my friends and family in "real life" bore me to tears. If Facebook does not make information about me available -- if it keeps my information private, in other words --, it would make it much harder for Facebook to fulfill this function. In my case for the most part any information that I do not wish to make available to prospective friends I simply do not enter into the system. As far as Facebook sharing my information with other websites, that could be great if it ultimately serves to put me in touch with people who are interesting to me. A final observation: What Facebook is trying to do, at the end of the day, is to encourage interactivity. What killed MySpace was that for a while everyone was having fun creating their own pages -- but then they stopped interacting, and their "hits" to the site fell off dramatically. It does Facebook no good if they have 300,000,000 members, but only two percent of these log on more than once per month. Ergo their philosophy has been to encourage interactivity at any cost, even if that leads to the occasional criticism over privacy issues. The other problem for Facebook is that "applications" -- all those "gifts," quizzes and puzzles --, originally a driving force for expanding membership and encouraging members to participate, have deteriorated from an attractive feature to an outright annoyance.


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