Is Facebook the Antichrist of privacy?

Is Facebook the Antichrist of privacy?

Summary: Facebook is in the news this week for all the wrong reasons. Another change to its privacy settings and a new 5800-word privacy policy has triggered concerns by US authorities and European privacy organisations. And in Sydney the death of 18-year-old Nona Belomesoff last week has been dubbed another "Facebook murder".

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Facebook is in the news this week for all the wrong reasons. Another change to its privacy settings and a new 5800-word privacy policy has triggered concerns by US authorities and European privacy organisations. And in Sydney the death of 18-year-old Nona Belomesoff last week has been dubbed another "Facebook murder".

Has Facebook gone too far? Has it become, as Microsoft social researcher Danah Boyd argues, a utility that needs to be regulated?

Matt McKeon has shown in a handy infographic how Facebook's default privacy settings have steadily changed since the social networking site first went online in 2004 — always in favour of greater disclosure of your personal information. Obviously it best suits the interests of Facebook and its advertisers rather than yours. Leaked online chats by founder Mark Zuckerberg reveal that back when he was 19 years old and Facebook was known as The Facebook, he already saw personal information as a commodity to be traded and his users as people to mock.

In Patch Monday this week, Stilgherrian looks at Facebook privacy from two angles.

First, security and the risk to you and your employer. Paul Ducklin is Sophos' head of technology for Asia Pacific. His research shows that half the time people will befriend anyone who asks — exposing all their personal details to strangers. Criminals wanting to steal your identity or probe your business have it easy.

Second, the policy implications. David Vaile, who heads up the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre at the University of New South Wales thinks Facebook's privacy model is "dangerous". He foresees a time when personal information is considered as valuable and vulnerable as financial information — and any IT systems that hold that information will need network security as strong as the banks.

Plus we have Stilgherrian's usual idiosyncratic look at the week's IT news headlines.

To leave an audio comment for Patch Monday, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733. And if you have any suggestions for women in IT, please add them in the comments.

Running time: 32 minutes, 13 seconds.

Topics: Security, Privacy, Social Enterprise

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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4 comments
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  • I think the privacy commissioner should be calling in Facebook rather then Google. At least Google have said they're getting hid of the publicly available information they collected. Facebook have just decided to make private information public!
    m00nh34d
  • Facebook has a pathetic reputation for protecting their users although they are neither better or worse than Google. You'd put neither company in charge of security anywhere because they have no idea of the meaning of the word. The owners of these sites just sit back with their feet on their desks counting money whilst their, admittedly ignorant, users tell the world about their whole lives.

    The users of Facebook do have to shoulder some blame though. In my whole time on the Internet (more than ten years) I've had a policy of only putting on the Internet what I would tell someone I don't know and in this day and age, that is not much.

    The main thing people have to realise is that these websites are American-owned and their usage is subject to American privacy laws which are nothing close to the laws that apply here in Australia.
    Mel Sommersberg
  • BOYCOTT FACEBOOK NOW

    Remember that Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man" about the Kanamits? Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are the real Kanamits.

    Yes, Zuckerberg is a wannabe Bill Gates with designs on a monopoly in social networking, which would result in a new Dark Ages like Gates did with operating systems, and his whats-in-it-for-me practices trampling personal and privacy rights to position himself for riches no matter whom he hurts are despicable, and are indicative of much worse to come, which is one reason he must be stopped. But it's far worse than it appears on the surface, because all the signals are there that he wants to rule the world as the Antichrist, for instance, keeping the company private and wanting everybody to give up their privacy to him and him alone, like in Revelation 3:16 where it says he will put his mark on everybody's forehead and no one will be able to buy or sell without the Mark of the Beast, Mark Zuckerberg. Forget the old theories that Bill Gates was the Antichrist, this could be the dude. Gates just kept holding you back with horrible buggy software, but Zuckerberg can get you where you live by owning and using your private data at will. If you could go back to the early 1980s and buy Microsoft's competitors' operating systems, wouldn't you, to stop Gates? Well wake up and stop the Beast, or you will live to rue these happy days when you failed to act. The only way to stop Zuckerberg cold is to boycott Facebook by deleting your account after telling your social network to do ditto, in hopes that a saner, safer, more democratic alternative will arise that connects everybody with proper safeguards against monomaniac people and groups.

    http://boycottfacebookblog.blogspot.com/
    tlwinslow-5ff41
  • BOYCOTT FACEBOOK NOW

    Gates just kept holding you back with horrible buggy software, but Zuckerberg can get you where you live by owning and using your private data at will. If you could go back to the early 1980s and buy Microsoft's competitors' operating systems, wouldn't you, to stop Gates? Well wake up and stop the Beast, or you will live to rue these happy days when you failed to act. The only way to stop Zuckerberg cold is to boycott Facebook by deleting your account after telling your social network to do ditto, in hopes that a saner, safer, more democratic alternative will arise that connects everybody with proper safeguards against monomaniac people and groups.

    http://boycottfacebookblog.blogspot.com/
    tlwinslow-5ff41