Facebook lack of privacy is old, old news


I hate to be an “I told you so,” so I won’t be. I’ll just reprint something I wrote back in 2011:


Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

The Federal Trade Commission has finally taken Facebook to task. Now, because of previous violations of its users’ privacy, the social network’s privacy policies will be subject to scrutiny by third-party auditors every two years for the next 20 years. And from now on Facebook must obtain approval from its users before making any changes to the way their personal information is shared on the network.

The FTC’s allegations against Facebook were as follows:

  • In December 2009, Facebook changed its website so certain information that users may have designated as private – such as their Friends List – was made public. They didn’t warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance.
  • Facebook represented that third-party apps that users’ installed would have access only to user information that they needed to operate. In fact, the apps could access nearly all of users’ personal data – data the apps didn’t need.
  • Facebook told users they could restrict sharing of data to limited audiences – for example with “Friends Only.” In fact, selecting “Friends Only” did not prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used.
  • Facebook had a “Verified Apps” program & claimed it certified the security of participating apps. It didn’t.
  • Facebook promised users that it would not share their personal information with advertisers. It did.
  • Facebook claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts, their photos and videos would be inaccessible. But Facebook allowed access to the content, even after users had deactivated or deleted their accounts.
  • Facebook claimed that it complied with the U.S.- EU Safe Harbor Framework that governs data transfer between the U.S. and the European Union. It didn’t.

FTCOne can’t help wondering who is worse, Mark Zuckerberg for running his business this way, or the 800 milllion people who tolerate it and keep using his network anyway.

But it really doesn’t matter. The damage has been done. The data has already been taken from everyone and sold to everyone else. The genie can’t be put back in the bottle. Having to be honest from now on is hardly punishment; it’s more like a joke. Zuckerberg has already gotten what he wanted, 800 million times over. Nor would a monetary penalty have any effect. If Zuckerberg were shut down right now, or fined some inconceivable amount, he would still have more money than he could spend in several lifetimes. As with other giant industries and corporations, the only effective punishment, the only one that would make any real impression on the violator, is prison. Money, after all, takes all the sting out of any other sanction. Looks like the 1% wins again.


And prior to that, in 2010, I wrote the following:

 Okay, so I suppose all that does add up to “I told you so.” But I just wanted to say that the current stories about Facebook’s lack of concern for your privacy are not new and are not news. Cambridge Analytica is not the first organization to take advantage of Facebook’s policies, and it certainly won’t be the last. It just happens to be one of the biggest. That we know of.

13 thoughts on “Facebook lack of privacy is old, old news

    1. The only reason Pied Type has an automated presence there is to encourage people to come here. And I don’t think of it as being anti-social. I think of it as not being a patsy for Zuckerberg and his friends.

    1. Oh, I believe he sees, intended, and planned for the evil. He doesn’t make his money off his millions of users (who pay nothing to use Facebook). He makes it from selling their information.

  1. Totally floored that people are so outraged and appalled. How did they think it worked?
    FB morphed quickly from, a closed college/university information/meet-up system to a massive data collection company.
    Supermarkets collect/sell data.
    Few people also realize that all that parent/family information given on schools’ Student Information forms each fall is also sold (or has been in this state since the 80’s) There’s this one tiny box to check if you don;’t want it shared – or used to be…and they do try to bully you not filling it all out.
    Data collection has slipped into everything.
    I worked in research that used such data constantly – and it’s not always as secure and with identifiers as people think. Has given me shivers for years….
    Guess people are just so busy outdoing each other with selfies to notice the wolves creeping in the hen house.
    Pretty scary

    1. As my son, an IT developer, puts it: Anytime you use a product or service that’s free, your information is the product. That’s a clumsy paraphrase, but you get the idea.

      1. He’s exactly right
        Those “special prescription cards” for lower pricing on meds by company…read the fine print…some even get access to your med. records (” to improve their products”)
        It’s everywhere with tendrils in so much…even doc’s patients’ electronic med records are not totally shielded

        1. In a world where hackers can spy on us with our own computers, assured privacy may soon be a thing of the post. But why make it any easier for them by putting all your info on Facebook?

... and that's my two cents