A geeks dilemma

Facebook is taking more and more liberties with it's users data. Robert Scoble believes it has reached a point of no return, while Jeff Jarvis (forever the optimist) believes that there is still hope. I don't think many understand what Facebook is doing. There are excellent articles on how to try and control your own settings, but even those will not save you from friends who have more laxed privacy settings.

The simplest example: if you "like" John Doe's photo or status then anyone who can see your likes will see that photo of status, even if John Doe's settings where to share this with his friends.

This gets worse when Facebook provides more and more tools for external sites to interact with the user profile. Unlike tools like Google Analytics, which will record the IP address which you are using, those tools will interact with your information. If you are currently logged in to Facebook, this has the potential of recording all your activities to you, especially with Facebook tendency to opt you in to any service which makes you actions more public.

One must note that public in this context is public to anyone with access to Facebook data. When Google acted in a similar fashion with Buzz, but the impacts were obvious, and Google was quick to fix them. With Facebook, the impact is yet to come. The complexities make it difficult even for the techies to understand, which means this will take a while to filter into main stream media, and from there to the non-technical users.

The geek knee-jerk reaction would be to close my Facebook account, Leo Laporte has suspended his account. But wouldn't this be biting my nose to spite my face? I have friends, family, colleagues and clients on Facebook. I can call on them to check and double check on their privacy settings, at what point will I become that grumpy an annoying geek that they would rather ignore?

For the moment I will check my setting and annoy my friends and relatives. Mayby by the time I am done I will have so few of the former, that the whole issue will be mute....

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