Facebook just scared me

Facebook just scared me

Summary: When Dan Farber pinged me about the Digital Bill of Rights, I was a tad dismissive. Stuff like that usually leaves me cold - I guess it comes from years of working alongside lawyers who could fry any sane person's brains with their mental gymnastics.


When Dan Farber pinged me about the Digital Bill of Rights, I was a tad dismissive. Stuff like that usually leaves me cold - I guess it comes from years of working alongside lawyers who could fry any sane person's brains with their mental gymnastics. But then I noticed Facebook is proposing changes that mean my private data may no longer be MY private data but be searchable by Google. I'm not happy about that prospect and for once I'm seriously considering how I'm going to handle my Facebook presence. Reading Dan's earlier piece that talks to this topic, he notes that:

Basically, if you are on the Internet, your are exposed, which is why it is increasingly important to foster guidelines and regulations that maintain individual rights to privacy and ownership of their data in the digital age.

I'm usually relaxed about these things but given I have a LOT of personal data out on Facebook (and elsewhere), I decided to restrict access to certain of that data. Why? Because I know how easy it would be for anyone to obtain a copy of my birth certificate from the data that's already there. It is but a hop and a skip to obtain a passport, drivers license and bank account. All in my name. I really had been monumentally careless. J.LeRoy already thinks Facebook is out of control. Tish Grier is uncomfortable with the thought that:

...in this brave new world where tons of people are looking to mine our information and monetize whatever they can get their hands on, we stand to become nothing more than "contact information" rather than good business connections or friends.

I definitely don't like that idea. It reminds me of The Prisoner where the nameless hero yells: "I am not a number, I am a free man" on the opening sequence to each show. And as a free man, I want my data to be free. Luis Suarez , my sometimes IBM sparring partner is vociferous in his objections to Facebook. At the time he wrote his objections, I said that you can control your privacy and under the latest changes you still can. But can you really? I don't know any longer. I know that Google and others who want my data are in the business of using it for targeted advertising. But what if...?

I've often held out Facebook as a metaphor for a platform that delivers lightweight applications, call it mashups if you wish for the business world. I liked the idea that it is a walled garden because it provides the control business needs. I still think that's a good idea. But if Facebook is pointing the way of the future, I'm wondering whether my less than rigorous assessment might have been premature.

I need look more closely at what Marc Canter and others are saying about my data. Not because I am worried about my privacy in the same way as others but because I am concerned I may be unwittingly paving the way for the creation of a Mr Hyde to my Doctor Jekyll, courtesy of an as yet unknown business application developer.

Topic: Social Enterprise

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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  • Sophos has great info to secure Facebook

    Visit http://www.sophos.com/security/topic/facebook.html and especially
    http://www.sophos.com/security/best-practice/facebook.html to see how to lock down your Facebook access. This is for those who want to be "in the game" but don't want to be searchable.

    Young folks don't think anything of it, but if you leave yourself searchable, potential employers, unsavory types, etc. can also search on you.

    If you or a friend/child uses Facebook, go in with your eyes *wide open* and watch out.
  • RE: Facebook just scared me

    You're a damned fool for using facebook in the first place.
    • Using Facebook

      Indeed. Delete your Facebook account ASAP.
  • RE: Facebook just scared me

    Years ago, Sun's Scott McNealy, in supporting the idea of a national ID card (which Sun would provide and makes gobs of money on, of course!) responding to concerns about privacy said something like "...there is no privacy...get over it!..." Your security lies, he claimed, in the idea that there is an ever-expanding ocean of info out there and there's little ole you, a veritable molecule in this ocean. And how on earth, he claimed, would anyone ever find you? Well, Google sure shattered THAT myth, huh, Scott? Let's face(book) it - social portals and search are the big moneymaker now and if any entity that's even remotely connected with them are to make money, then they must convince us, as McNealy has incessantly tried to do, that privacy is a quaint, but outmoded concept.
  • RE: Facebook just scared me

    Your best bet for privacy is to corrupt the data with defective information.

    Mark Yannone
    • Defective Information

      Indeed. The only thing that is real in any of my on-line profiles is my name. Good luck to anyone who want to clone my identity. Back luck to anyone in real life who shares my fictitious date of birth and other details.