Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Facebook Privacy--What it means for Boomers

Facebook changed its privacy policy this week, and basically reset everyone's privacy settings so that everyone can see everything you post. And Friends of Friends can see your photos.  If you click here, you will be sent to an excellent blog post by Brian Krebbs at the Washington Post that explains exactly what Facebook did. (Warning: you  may have to close an ad before you can be linked to the blog. It's annoying but worth it.) 

I don't intend to go over the same material Krebbs covered in this blog post. I only want to warn my fellow Boomers, especially the ones who are only occasional users of Facebook, to get in there and check your privacy settings immediately. I think that Boomers have an expectation of privacy that the younger generations who have grown up with social networking don't share. Yet, we have to expect that everything we put on the web will be fodder for some search engine sometime in the future, unless we protect it.

Do you really want Google or Bing pulling up posts you made to update your status? Take something innocent, like a post about a sick member of the family. Once that post is available to be indexed by Bing or Google, it is on the web for posterity, my friends. Your birthday is another example. If you let Facebook make this information public, then you are inviting marketers into your life. This blog article by Kaila Colbin shows how Facebook's decision to pull the privacy rug out from under its users is motivated by the the ability to sell the information it is collecting on us. I understand there are many ways that marketers can get this information anyway, but why make it easy to be a target for them?  The only way to protect your information is to make sure you keep your privacy settings updated.

Like many of my Boomer friends, I use Facebook to keep up with family and friends. I'm not interested in cultivating a vast number of friends of friends. And I am angry with Facebook for resetting my privacy settings --really without much notice. Frankly, I think they should have used my old settings as the default, and asked me to opt in to their new settings, which I would have refused.

Also, there should have been more notice given. While there was a big banner telling me to update my settings when I signed on last week, the keepers of the Facebook community didn't email me, and believe me, they have my email address. We all should have been warned before they made this huge change.

1 comment:

aunt melody said...

Thanks for this post. I got that when I got on facebook yesterday and was busy and did not bother to read it well. I clicked rthe wrong thing, which I now know thanks to you, so I have to get in there and change my settings again. If I can't figure out how to do that i may be calling you...or maybe an idea for your next post!