Facebook privacy changes

Posted on 2009-12-10 07:32

OK so what Facebook DIDNT tell you about thir new privacy settings thing is that they have made a deal to sell all the information you have marked as public to the Google and Microsoft Bing search engines. That's right! Unless you're careful, everything you have ever posted on Facebook may soon get indexed. When users are first presented with the privacy settings page, the default is to share almost everything - meaning that if you aren't careful all the crap you thought was private will instead be available instantly to get indexed by a search engine. Folks are already in an uproar about the new settings, but Facebook is a business and plans to make big bucks off of your content, and you can bet that Google and Microsoft aren't willing to pony up big cash for altruistic reasons either. Facebook kindly reminds you that you can change the privacy settings later, but of course, by then it will already be indexed.

Microsoft, an investor in Facebook gets a lot more information, including real-time updates of your profile, while Google only gets the public pages. Since Google is the biggest (and best IMO) search engine, it makes more sense to index public pages which were intended to be seen by the public, while Microsoft indexing your profile info seems so much more evil and devious. I am not all that surprised by this arrangement though, are you?

Facebook has been open about the changes at least, and has some good reasons for implementing changes, but in hindsight it seems like they are all just rationales for selling your info.

I've been running websites since 1996 and have a healthy respect for how long term online memory can be, so I am usually very careful about what I post and how (and where) I post it even though I am more prolific than many casual web citizens I know. Since I have never posted any personal information on Facebook (I never put any information in for birthdate, address, schools, jobs, etc.) except for my online relationships - who my "friends" are - I'm less concerned than maybe some others might be, however I understand how useful even this limited kind of information can be to marketers, agents of the government, private investigators, and criminals.