Friday, November 30, 2007

if you want privacy, stay away from facebook

A tempest has erupted in Facebook's teapot. A new "feature" called Beacon watches what sites Facebook users surf to and then broadcasts that information in some sort of on-line micro-ad. The example cited here is when Sean Lane bought a ring for his wife Shannon and the news headline appeared, "Sean Lane bought 14k White Gold 1/5 ct Diamond Eternity Flower Ring from".

Naturally, Shannon saw the announcement and Sean had to think fast and say it was for her for Christmas, not for the cute chick in accounting he's been banging.

Just joking, Sean - no reason to disbelieve that story. But what if Sean had just bought a book about divorce at Amazon? Or had bought two plane tickets to Jamaica for a long weekend in January after telling his wife he had to fly to the Chicago office to help install a new mainframe?

Yeah, I think this is pretty obnoxious, especially since Facebook at first didn't really give you a meaningful chance to opt out of this particular "feature" - they will now, but you have to remember to do it every time, which is a pain no doubt for concerned Facebook users.

On the other hand, the amount of personal information many people divulge at Facebook or MySpace or even right here at Blogger is INCREDIBLE. I remember randomly surfing thru Blogger blogs and finding some sixteen year old girl talking about some private things - I left her a comment and suggested she consider passwording the blog so only her friends and family can see it, not some stranger like me.

As bad as Beacon is, the worst violations of privacy on the internet are self-inflicted... So think twice about posting the details of your mundane existence!



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