Posted by: Clarinette | May 13, 2010

Facebook needs you

So much happened this week around the subject of Facebook and the privacy threat.

My Pearltree is growing by the day and I might have to rethink its structure. An incredible number of Tweets have linked to this iinfographic time line of default setting of privacy erosion of Facebook

Here now comes ‘Diaspora’, a new alternative social network ‘Four Nerds and a Cry to Arms Against Facebook‘ also reported at here by @Privacydigest

We had some interesting exchanges on this subject on Twitter and Facebook that I report here: Marc Zuckerberg as well as Sergey Brin and Larry Page, also grad students, started with good intentions, in my opinion. Another more pessimistic view expressed by @columnu was that ‘money and power don’t corrupt, just reveal what was always there, like a truth drug‘. How much money has corrupted or as Tweeted by my Twitter friend and privacy expert, Rebecca Herold ‘a lot of new people pushing advice some may not want to take, but then are compelled to or talked into doing‘, difficult to know.
What we need is to try to find a better alternative.
Facebook has come with an interesting idea: ‘Facebook Calls All Hands Meeting On Privacy‘ – Today, Thursday May the 13th at 4pm Pacific.
I encourage everyone to keep an eye on the new developments. It has been very positive to see how many people are starting to show concern about the issue of privacy of personal data published by Facebook.

A recent survey “ that 95% of FB users oppose FB privacy changes – how accurate is this survey?”
The survey results have been contested by Facebook which has ‘published a response, attempting to justify its position, and underlining that it would only offer the data to “carefully selected partners”, and that such partners would be “required to provide an easy and prominent method” for users to opt out directly from their websites and delete your personal data.’

Two recent articles should also be mentioned at this point. First by ReadWriteWeb ‘The Best of What’s Left of Privacy on Facebook‘ . The second by the New York Times online ‘Facebook Privacy: A Bewildering Tangle of Options
Each article is a good demonstration of how navigating privacy setting on Facebook can be complex. A total lack of transparency for users.
My suggestion to avoid the slide is, as previously mentioned, to have a ‘cooperative’ social network where users pay a membership fee and act as responsible members of the community. We could envisage an elected representative group taking the decisions, if not all members. This is the best I can see, with the inconvenience, I admit, of abandoning the ‘free’ access principle – but doesn’t everything important, including privacy, have a price?



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nicole Black and clarinette, Shaun Dakin. Shaun Dakin said: Facebook needs you « IPrivacy4IT – Clarinette's blog #privacy […]

  2. My sense is that the coop idea has merit. Diaspora as an alternative sounds sexy as open code and distributed but the fundamental issue of who is controlling privacy/access is not addressed. The coop could work and spread across many users would be far cheaper than the for profit model – access charges would likely be very modest with a big enough base. Like to see you develop it’s details a bit more. Coop based on Diaspora?

  3. I have often thought about the coop approach to internet identity. It has both privacy and security implications.

    The current open system of internet access affords great anonymity, but without any responsibility. This makes it a fertile playground for certain kinds of criminals.

    Privacy can be obtained without irresponsible anonymity. A cooperative community of responsible individuals could assure each others privacy, by respecting it. This could include appropriate anonymity, anonymity that would not extend to cover acting irresponsibly in contravention of the shared norms.

    Of course, these ideas are not new. People have formed mutual support societies through all times to uphold common ideals. The key difference is that the global network allows us to do so without regard to location.

    They are also not a panacea. Once a collective forms it begins to have value. There are those who will try to exploit that value. Others will get attached to the community and try to preserve or enforce it even after its original purpose has expired.

    Still banding together to support responsible action is a noble cause, and might help us have a better network.

  4. There is an alternative… It’s called a sound business plan and a desire to provide value for people and the world.

    Facebook has none of these.. And an open source system like desporia will never be able to provide protections.

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