Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Is Facebook Unethical?
But there in lies the problem. Apparently, for users that never changed there settings, the default answers for the privacy questions was to make everything public. Meaning that your Facebook page is completely visible by everyone on Facebook. Anything that you write on your Facebook page and even your Friends are now exposed for everyone to see. Well, that is of course if you made the mistake of just hitting next to get through the privacy page without reading it.
Facebook's policy of defaulting that all of your data be public has stirred up some anger in the blogoshere. Internet mogul Jason Calacanis of Mahalo has wrote an e-mail, which he sent to his mailing list, expressing his dissatisfaction with the way that Facebook has decided to handle this whole privacy issue. Jason went as far to say that the way that Facebook handled this situation was unethical, given the fact that everyone knows that people for the most part don't read policy agreements, but instead just hit 'Agree'. He also goes on to discuss his concern for how Facebook's actions could lead to the government stepping in to regulate the social network market.
I have to agree with Jason and his concerns. I often don't read privacy agreements or terms of service. I just scroll to the bottom , if that is required, and hit 'agree'. As for Facebook's policy however, I felt that it was fairly straight forward, and I made sure to go through it to check where I wanted all of my settings to be. So I'm a bit unsympathetic to some of this anger, but the truth be told, I have to agree that Facebook should have made it an opt-in for people's personal information to be public instead of an opt-out.
By now your probably wondering why Facebook would want your information to be public. According to Jason (and by the way Kevin Rose), Facebook wants more of its data to be search able in order to generate revenue. Facebook currently has a search deal with Google and Bing to make their data search able by those search engines. The more data they have for search, the more money Facebook can generate from their search deal. So there is a pay off for Facebook to give up your information.
So have you been bite by this privacy Faux pas? And is this Unethical on the Part of Facebook? Tell me what you think about it.
By they way, anyone interested in reading Jason's e-mail, you can find it posted here on his blog. If you want to hear discussion on this privacy issue, just click here and listen to Twit Episode #225.