Respecting privacy

The social networking site Facebook is trying once again to subtly invade our privacy.

The social networking site Facebook is trying once again to subtly invade our privacy.

A web site already known for not being incredibly secure and not having the greatest privacy policies, Facebook is developing a reputation for constantly modifying its privacy policies to strip away our privacy a little bit more each time those policies are updated.

Thankfully, Facebook is also becoming known for backing down pretty quickly when challenged.

The most recent evidence of this is Facebook delaying yet another change to its privacy policy after concerns that it may not actually be, well, legal.

Two years ago, after being caught publishing people’s photos without permission on the site’s ‘sponsored stories’ feed, Facebook made an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) remedying this policy, or lack thereof.

In response, Facebook is attempting to revise its policy so that users will automatically consent to having their photos used unless they state otherwise.

However, after several privacy rights groups raised concern that this policy change still violates the previous agreement, Facebook has delayed making the change.

These groups state that, since Facebook is not gaining explicit permission from its users to use their photos, it’s still violating the agreement. And we tend to agree.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has tried to simply write or rewrite policy to allow itself to get away with a free grab of personal information and intellectual property.

Fortunately, Facebook is now being forced to answer for it.

In an open letter to the FTC, the Center for Digital Democracy and Consumer Watchdog criticized Facebook’s actions and implored  the FTC not to allow Facebook to get away with this violation of its previous agreement.

While Facebook denies the letter has anything to do with the change in timeline, the fact remains that something has forced Facebook to take a step back and re-examine its policy.

Which is a good thing.

It seems that with everything Facebook does, it is trying to remove more and more of its users’ privacy.

Just look at Facebook’s default privacy settings.

Until you adjust them, Facebook sets all of your information to be entirely accessible to the public.

Their excuse for these default settings and for many of its other privacy-removing policies is that it makes it easier to connect people and to share with others.

What Facebook continues to ignore is that no one wants to use Facebook to make connections with strangers. What people like about Facebook (and the reason they continue to use it despite the continuing ridiculous updates and policy changes) is that it allows them to connect with friends.

Think about yourself and the people in your own Facebook circle for a moment.

What do you use Facebook for? Most likely, you use it to share photos and posts to your friends around the world, to send messages to faraway friends and keep in touch with family members.

People don’t want a Facebook that allows their photos and information to be shared all over the Internet so they can be contacted by creepy strangers and make ‘new friends’.

They want a Facebook that makes it easier to stay in touch and share things with people they know.

The company needs to start listening to the desires of its users rather than trying to find sneaky ways to make the private information of those users public.

No one wants their personal information spread all over the globe and available to anyone with an Internet connection, and it’s about time Facebook recognized that.