Ever since I started the Facebook Privacy & Security Guide back in October 2008 I knew that Facebook’s privacy settings were confusing for the average user. Many of my concerns back then centered around friends and family that had no idea there were even privacy settings to configure on Facebook. It has also never been in Facebook’s financial interest to *really* show you how to protect the information you post. These are all reasons was why I started the guide and hopefully over the last few years it has helped spread some awareness on how to control the information you post a little better. Working on the guide has been frustrating at times because Facebook would make settings more confusing, remove settings that were useful and then bring them back again in some other form. In the latest versions of the guide I often wondered how I was going to fit all the settings and their explanations into a two-sided handout. The handout format has always been important to me so it could be easily distributed. 🙂
Jumping forward to today we see yet another iteration of these settings. I don’t have the settings on my Facebook account yet so I haven’t updated the guide but I have read some of the information already out there. The EFF has a good post up about the new settings. They even have a YouTube video showing you the changes and their recommendations. The other post you should read is one by theharmonyguy who, as always, has very good analysis of these settings and Facebook overall.
My thoughts are pretty much along the same lines as the EFF and others. However, I will say that no matter what changes Facebook makes to their privacy settings they *will* find ways to use your information to make money. This is Mark Zuckerberg’s business model and that won’t change anytime soon. I will leave you with a fantastic quote that I think sums up all the media drama leading up to these new privacy controls. This is a quote from Bruce Schneier. It’s from an article he did for Forbes regarding statements that “Privacy is Dead”:
“It’s just not true. People, including the younger generation, still care about privacy. Yes, they’re far more public on the Internet than their parents: writing personal details on Facebook, posting embarrassing photos on Flickr and having intimate conversations on Twitter. But they take steps to protect their privacy and vociferously complain when they feel it violated. They’re not technically sophisticated about privacy and make mistakes all the time, but that’s mostly the fault of companies and Web sites that try to manipulate them for financial gain.”