Fed up with lax online privacy? Poison the well...

Fed up with lax online privacy? Poison the well...

Summary: If web services don't respect your privacy you can hit back with my "poison the well" strategy...


Facebook is paving the way for lax privacy controls and where Facebook leads others are bound to follow.

Trying to control how much others know about you is going to become increasingly difficult. Yes, you can adjust your privacy settings, but this process is becoming increasingly complex.

The Price of Facebook Privacy? Start Clicking - NYTimes.com

Users must decide if they want only friends, friends of friends, everyone on Facebook, or a customized list of people to see things like their birthdays or their most recent photos. To keep information as private as possible, users must select “only friends” or “only me” from the pull-down options for all the choices in the privacy settings, and must uncheck boxes that say information will be shared across the Web.

Even if you do all that, Facebook has introduced a backdoor:

...some information will no longer remain private because Facebook has also added a feature, called community pages, which automatically links personal data, like hometown or university, to topic pages for that town or university.

Foremski's Take: Every time Facebook makes a change in its privacy provisions, you have to go through it all again. It's a never ending battle, with Facebook eventually winning because its users will get fed up or forget that another privacy change has happened and that they need to review their privacy settings.

Other sites will be doing the same because they have to, in order to be able to offer their commercial partners access to precise demographic and behavioral data.

So what can you do?

You can poison the well — list a bunch of false data.

You could change your occupation to "whale gynecologist." You can list unicorns as your favorite food. You could claim to be seven foot tall. Fingers on a chalkboard is your favorite music. Or even better, change your age to 10 years old — there are strict rules about gathering data on children.

You can poison your data in such a way that your friends know it's a joke but Facebook, and others that don't know you, won't know.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Security

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  • Tom, thanks!

    Great suggestions.
    Rick S._z
    • RE: Fed up with lax online privacy? Poison the well...

      @Rick S._z
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  • One rather obvious solution is to...

    ...never join a social networking site, or cancel your account when privacy becomes a priority. Do you really need that virtual farm? Do you really need to know what your friends are having for dinner and at what restaurant they were several minutes ago? The pointless, trivial friend information examples go on and on. I know, I used to check in on my Facebook friends all the time until one day I canceled my account. Just another internet time waster.

    Also, log into your Google account and clean up your browsing information and other personal info. Google has collected.
    Hatestone Johnson
  • RE: Fed up with lax online privacy? Poison the well...

    I rather agree with poisoning the data, I have been doing this since day one on the Net, and shall continue to do so. I'm usually listed as an 'Unemployed Employment Counselor' or an 'Unemployed Spy', I change names often, use different ridiculous information on every site. I suppose I'm rather surprised this isn't how everyone does it...

    Oh, and I agree with Hatestone Johnson, just don't join social networking sites. Waste of time. We have email and cell phones, and blogs, do you really need more than that?
  • RE: Fed up with lax online privacy? Poison the well...

    Poison your data? What is the point of that? Just don't give your data. Don't have a FB account. Don't demand privacy from an online service to which you aren't paying and you aren't smart enough to figure out how to use.

    Why does everyone think that FB owes them privacy? Just don't post your personal information online, problem solved.
  • Can I poison Google?

    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Fed up with lax online privacy? Poison the well...




      none none
    • More Google data hoovering


      For some reason the edit link is missing from my post above.

      For Firefox users wary of Google, read this:


      I had noticed a lot of traffic going to 1e100.net and changed my FF settings to stop giving Google even more data.
      none none
  • So what can you do?

    [i]You can poison the well -- list a bunch of false data. </i><br><br>Or you could walk away. For good.
  • RE: Fed up with lax online privacy? Poison the well...

    I use on profile to keep in touch with friends, but no games, community pages, etc., and another just for all that stuff. I am going to change my age to 10 on that tonight!
  • good idea about facebook

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