Saturday, February 28, 2009

Get My Face Outta Your Book! Part III: Privacy? It’s About Damn Time

Facebook has recently come under fire by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) for a new privacy policy, which effectively grants Facebook Inc. control over any content users post.

February 4th change allowed the company to retain the right to any information users post on the site as well as the ability to retain archived copies of the content even if it has been removed. referred to the policy as "We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever."

Pretty drastic, if you ask me. So drastic, in fact, that Facebook Inc. revised the policy on February 16th, reverting back to the old privacy policy until a new one could be agreed upon.

Now, why do I bring this up in the context of identity? Elementary, my dear reader.

Facebook’s attempt to own user content is more than just an intellectual property issue. While some acknowledge intellectual property rights are a factor in their righteous hatred of the new policy, for the most part, their objections centre around an indefinable sense that the new policy is just plain wrong.

I think that this “wrongness” revolves around the feeling that Facebook Inc.’s policy results not just in owning user content, but also in owning user identity.

Think about it. Facebook users pour so much of themselves and who they want to be into their Facebook profile and usage habits. Every post tells readers something about the user, whether it be information transmitted consciously, or implicit information the user has no idea he or she is imparting.

In a sense, Facebook’s policy wanted people to “sell their souls” to Facebook Inc. for the privilege of interaction which could be as easily achieved face-to-face or by phone.

No wonder there was such a public outcry. No wonder the policy was revoked. No wonder I stand by my decision to resist peer pressure to succumb to the all-powerful Facebook.

After all, even though they didn’t get away with it this time, that doesn’t guarantee that the whole mess can’t happen again.

What do you think about the Facebook fiasco? Leave a comment and let me know!


  1. Here's what I have to say to Facebook. ;)

    Just so you know, Facebook, that's pretty much like listening in to everyone's phone-calls, monitoring e-mails, and recording people's conversations.

    I see this mostly as a big privacy issue. If they're doing this, they just might as well go ahead and record phone-calls. Except this is much easier to do. So not only is it a privacy issue, its a LAZY privacy issue! The nerve of them! >:O

  2. You're absolutely right!

    In my opinion, Facebooks being lazy. They say that they need to retain rights to information in order to make it available to each user's friends. Seems to me that if they really cared about privacy concerns, they'd find another way to make the system work.

    They're probably hoping for a deal with other media, such as the one that YouTube has with several TV news networks, allowing the stations to air YouTube videos for a fee.

    Can you imagine seeing your pictures on The 11 o'clock news.