Facebook’s Continuous Privacy Failures

Mark Zuckerberg FacebookFacebook has had a continuous struggle with privacy and it has been painfully evident especially throughout the past few years. Due to their position they simply release stuff that clearly pushes the privacy boundaries for their users and once they get enough complaints they are quick to apologize, pull back…somewhat, and then reintroduce that same feature later on.

Take this for example; there are twenty-five posts by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that have been posted within the past five years however ten of those address privacy complaints while the others are about milestone celebrations and their products. Here is one of the messages he sent out to users regarding privacy concerns, the title was “Calm down. Breathe. We hear you.” (Not condescending at all right?)

We didn’t take away any privacy options. [Your privacy options remain the same.] The privacy rules haven’t changed. None of your information is visible to anyone who couldn’t see it before the changes.

This was in response to changes on the Facebook News feeds however a little while after this post he changed his tone and actually admitted that they (as in Facebook) “really messed this one up”.

After that there were several more complaints which resulted in a few more posts my Mark Zuckerberg such as one in 2008 regarding the interface change that users didn’t like and again in 2009 regarding privacy settings. The 2009 privacy settings complaints resulted in three posts by Zuckerberg and at the end of that year the Facebook team finally made a ton of revisions however they sparked a lot of widespread criticism.

In May of 2012 Facebook responded to all of the criticism by completely redoing all of their privacy settings and Mark Zuckerberg made another infamous post regarding these changes:

Facebook has been growing quickly. It has become a community of more than 400 million people in just a few years. It’s a challenge to keep that many people satisfied over time, so we move quickly to serve that community with new ways to connect with the social Web and each other. Sometimes we move too fast — and after listening to recent concerns, we’re responding.

Now we arrive at the present day complaint filed against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission. While Facebook attempted to deny the allegations that they ‘sold’ their users secrets to they were eventually confronted with the cold hard truth that not only were they storing a massive amount of information on users (including chat messages, private messages, status updates, and much more) but also that the ads that were being targeted towards users were utilizing information that was not consented by the users.

However Facebook has agreed to comply by the Federal Trade Commission’s rules and have a setting that will enable users to consent to changes rather than them just being introduced to them. Here is the most recent statement made by Mark regarding his beliefs on how Facebook has affected privacy over the past few years:

I founded Facebook on the idea that people want to share and connect with people in their lives, but to do this everyone needs complete control over who they share with at all times,” he starts. “Overall, I think we have a good history of providing transparency and control over who can see your information. That said, I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Facebook historical IPO marks the beginning of this year | It's a Gadget

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