Mitch Ratcliffe, ZDNet colleague and man who takes pleasure in ranting in a range of technological subcultures, recently asked why a married man of seven years has had his Facebook profile pictures used in ad promote matchmaking sites for singles.
I scrolled through a number of adverts which came through on my profile pages. After ten refreshes of the page, I selected these six out and then questioned how it came to these conclusions.
And here's a small snip from my Facebook profile. Facebook knows a little bit more about me than just this, but over the course of a year writing here I've learned to keep some personal information from the public domain.
From this profile it is understood that I live in Kent and am a raging gambler, who is extremely unsure of my sexuality. Ultimately, I end up slumped in a dingy public bathroom shooting up, whilst crying over the fact I have nobody to love me and nobody to write my essays for me.
Well, two out of six isn't bad.
Still just because it's on Facebook doesn't necessarily make it accurate. I'd rather have "single" on my profile than have it branded I am in a relationship with someone, which detracts away from the privacy my relationship holds. It's a petty excuse but I don't particularly want to be branded in such a way in front of my online community of friends.
While Mitch is a relatively attractive man on a number of levels, I too would be quite perplexed at seeing my face being used in an advertisement to entice women looking to find the perfect man. Why someone would want to share the bed with an irritating, hairy, northern loudmouth escapes me. My partner wakes up every morning questioning her sanity and wondering when her life went so badly wrong.
You can turn these privacy invasions off but it is not hardly advertised. A quick look in your News Feed & Wall settings from your top-bar Privacy settings allows you turn off Facebook using you in advertisements. I'm with Canadian authorities---Facebook needs to do more about privacy.
"The abuse of personal data is only beginning. Companies that offer everything for “free” are extracting a huge price from each of us in the form of information, images and private records that they intend to “monetize.” It is time to stop letting these companies see how far they can get before someone gets angry."
But when we knowingly sign up to a service which is:
"...subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account (except to the extent your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it)."
With this in mind, checking the revised Facebook terms and conditions, which changed to a town-hall style rights and responsibilities bill, under point 2.2:
"When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others)."
All good and well, but Facebook doesn't really go into the specific. A couple of months ago, researchers discovered photos and content from sites including Facebook, concreting their "lazy approach to user privacy". I asked for comment from Facebook but they "could not fulfill my request at this time."
"Privacy" in terms of online social network has two different slants. The way we control what we publish and who gets to see it and what the company who holds the content can do with it.
I think Facebook needs to sit on the naughty step for a while to think about what it's done.