Privacy, Transparency

Sometimes I like to think of myself as a Facebook detective. If I want to find something specific, I can usually do it, no matter people’s privacy settings. This might be a rather embarrassing story, but here goes. A person I know from my hometown got married. I’m not friends with her on Facebook, but wanted to see the wedding photos. Normally I’m pretty good as hunting down this sort of thing because I know to not only look at that person’s profile but also friends of friends’ profiles. While at first I couldn’t see anything because this person had made their profile private and their photos private (imagine my disappointment), as the days went by, I was still able to see more and more photos because she was slowly tagging someone with whom I am friends with on Facebook. I am sure the new bride has no idea that I looked at her photos and I’m sure that I’m not the only one of her non-friends who did. While this is kind of a complicated and trivial anecdote, it says something about Facebook’s “privacy” issues.

Nothing is really private. If that wasn’t clear to me already, Eva Galperin made it crystal clear when she spoke to our class today. One of the biggest take-aways, for me, was the fact that we, the Facebook users are NOT the target audience. We are the product. Facebook caters to advertisers, not their members. When users complain about a new feature, Facebook usually doesn’t and doesn’t have to do a thing about it. Most of the people I am friends with on Facebook don’t get this. They complain about each new update. I also found it interesting that Galperin referenced a study that dana boyd conducted by asking people if they understood their Facebook privacy settings. I was a little shocked to find out that 100% of the people she interviewed were wrong about their settings. I definitely belong in that group. For now, I just continue to head my mother’s advice, given to me long before social networks were popular: if you don’t want anyone to read it, don’t write it down.

After Glaperin talked about the ways in which government can use the information posted on social networks, I read an article about some police brutality that occurred this week during Occupy Oakland’s protest. The government asked Google and YouTube to take down videos of the brutality.  In this case, they’re trying to get the information off the social networks to hide it from people. Scary stuff.


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