Social Enterprise

Facebook chooses greed over privacy?


Almost a month ago, I joined the Facebook crowd by signing up for a free membership, posting my picture, and adding a few friends through the CNET network. I actually was encouraged by a coworker, so we could share music and other cool Facebook apps. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that Facebook will soon make members' names and photos available through Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft search engines. See the news story from USA Today: "Soon millions of Facebookers won't be incognito."

Here's the lowdown:

Last week, Facebook made limited member profiles available to non-Facebook members with a new search box at the bottom of the Facebook homepage.

Unless members adjust their own privacy settings, their listings will start showing up in Internet searches in early October.

Some Facebook users say they are perturbed because they joined the service so they could choose whom they communicate with — and not be exposed to the Internet at large.

So, why did Facebook make this change? According to the article, it sounds like greed is a big factor.

Making user listings available on huge search engines such as Google and Yahoo should drive millions more people to the Facebook site, making it an even more lucrative advertising vehicle.

Facebook already has 40 million active members, but I wonder how many of these people it will ultimately lose in its pursuit of more.

Do you have a Facebook membership? If so, are you bothered by this news? If not, will this news prevent you from joining Facebook in the future?

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About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

50 comments
unabletoplaytennis
unabletoplaytennis

I joined Facebook but I don't use it much. Kind of waste of time. I really don't see much benefits for me except losing time logging. Same thing with my friends. They joined but they never use it much also. Maybe kids like it.

Clee3.enhle
Clee3.enhle

Nathing on the internet can ever b privat, Facebook z jst lyk any other chat rooms, i therefore blv that ever 1 on facebook, do not show they infor on facebook if they do nt want it 2 b known by many. i am nt angry nor upset about al of this. my point z DONT put any of your pivacy on the internat, no mett which chat room it is.

Eternal
Eternal

I never have nor never will using these Pedophile hunting ground type systens. As far as the changes go, they never let anybody know.. well.. most companies don't they have a TOS or other type document posted and when you sign up somewhere it says they can change stuff if they want and you should read said document from time to time. I had a friend by a cell phone on contract, the company changed their policies, she got suspended for some unknown reason to her.. she tried to file a complaint, they said policy is policy, and told her she should read it every month just to see what's changed... I got involved and managed ot find an older policy that their newer policy violates and won the situation for her... but still had they changed that older policy(which they could have) she would have lost.

lpapworth
lpapworth

You have more chance of meeting a paedophile on TechRepublic than on Facebook. TechRepublic is an open blog with public comments. Facebook has strict privacy, no-one sees my writings and personal info unless I let them. And yes, TechRepublic IS a social network. This USA Today article was linkbaiting and scaremongering. Nothing changed - the default is still "off". Here's the quote: As always, if you do not want your public search listing to be visible to people searching from outside of Facebook, you can control that from the Search Privacy page. Please note that you will only appear in searches outside Facebook when your search settings are set to "Everyone". I trust traditional media less than Facebook. Because mainstream media have the most to lose (revenue, readership), they are the most negative and controlling of information on social media and networks. Take everything with a grain of salt. Or candy. Come here little ... :P

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Of course it's greed. I'm kind of lucky, the whole site is so badly done, I was never able to actually establish an account properly - only on slow dial up and it kept timing out before it could complete properly. But I've had several messages from friends asking me to join, which is why I tired. The concern is I have a fake persona I use for when signing up to things I'm not sure are safe yet (once happy I open an account in my real name), for which I have some valid email accounts. Imagine my surprise when these accounts get messages from 'friends' suggesting I join facebook. All my real friends only have my real name address - the only place anyone could have got the fakes is from a spammer list or such places, especially the one that was nearly created and not yet used to sign up to anything.

Chilly Willy the First
Chilly Willy the First

Deadly Ernest hit the nail on the head. In this day and time, it's not smart to be opening up any account with your real information. Make up one, surf to your heart's content and then if the positives outweigh the negatives, go for it ! :)

caricc135
caricc135

If you sign up for anything FREE. Then 9 out of 10 times you have failed to read the TOS agreement. Most companies will say they don't share any personal info but the TOS will say they can at any time the company so chooses.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

and they all say they will NOT give out any personal information unless required to do so by law. And that IS in the TOS. Most do reserve the right to amend the TOS, and the good ones I belong to state they will advise people individually if they are doing this.

mattohare
mattohare

Ok, this does surprise me. Search engines have been crawling public pages on social networking sites for a long time. It's nothing new. But maybe you need to be brought up to speed on a few more things. Business cards put into a fishbowl for a free meal, at your favourite sandwich shop, are probably sold to marketers who will use your phone number, fax number and email address to sell you things. Your details for that draw at the local shopping mall will get your number into a call centre to sell you time-share holiday homes. Free email services scan your emails to detect spam, detect viruses, and decide what emails to put next to your messages. Those things may surprise you too. Be ware, you are a member of the world community, unless you close your shutters, put on your ipod, and tint your car windows.

Inkling
Inkling

is the condescension in some of these posts. How you equate this article to ignorance or naivete of the author, is beyond me.

bbbbbdfgdfgdgddfg
bbbbbdfgdfgdgddfg

I like a lot of my friends are IT professionals. You can search our names on google and you will not find anything at all, because we know how data can be collated, cross-referenced and manipulated to multiply the amount of information that can be gotten about you, and the more someone knows about you , the easier it is for YOU to be manipulated.

Genera-nation
Genera-nation

Says who?...you? I assume from these comments that you have no friends or partner to speak off! Decided to edit as I may give away some information that may lead to my manipulation!!!!!

Inkling
Inkling

how monumentally stupid people are with these sites. The amount of personal information that many (not all) people put on these things is just...well, monumentally stupid. It also amazes me how defensive some of you are about this. Guess what? If you are part of a community that does such incredibly moronic things, you are going to be judged right along with them. Didn't your parents teach you that you are judged by the company you keep? And Neon Samurai: I believe the word you were looking for is [b]incite[/b].

rumford
rumford

Sonja, Ummm. This is purely a very smart marketing strategy by facebook and not news at all. Greed over privacy: NEVER. Facebook has more to lose than anyone else by losing privacy trust. They have no need to be greedy. Great headline. Terrible reporting. "But I wonder how many of these people it will ultimately lose in its pursuit of more." ...Most likely less than 1-2%; which will more than offset it's gains of new members. (does anyone ever talk about how MySpace used really underhanded and spammy behavior tactics to reach critical mass? No.) So greed is the motivator?... Please. Give me a break. Do your homework before you blog and merely repeat what you have read elsewhere. This is not news. Facebook users very limited profile info has ALWAYS been available via search engines. It is not greed... it is smart marketing and they are being transparent by telling everyone how to opt out. Is Google greedy? One could make case for yes. p.s. You can opt out of this search engine visibility simply by use of the privacy settings on Facebook and make yourself invisible. Sorry if I sound harsh. The blogosphere has merely regurgitated this whole issue for the past week without knowing the facts or offering any great insight to a non-issue. ;) 90% of the time I am on your side and I am a fan. ;-) Rodney Rumford Publisher http://www.facereviews.com

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

Rodney, thanks for your insight! I agree that the percentage of people that Facebook will lose by adding its members to Internet searches will be a whole lot less than the percentage of people it gains. As far as poor reporting, I believe that I gave a fairly accurate recap of what the news article said, and I was careful in my wording... "According to the article, it sounds like greed is a big factor." Here is another quote from the article: "But in its pursuit of building a bigger audience, Facebook has set off privacy alarms among customers who don't necessarily want their listings to be an open book." Are there other perspectives out there? YES! That's why I posted this blog in the first place -- to hear what TechRepublic members think about this issue (or non-issue). Thanks again, Rodney, for chiming in. I am listening...

rumford
rumford

I will follow what people are saying here. I guess the claim of poor reporting should have fallen to the original article author and not you. Sorry about that.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

your blog neglects to mention the public search can be turned off in the user privacy settings. when anyone logs into there facebook account they get a big notice to anounce the change and the option to visit the privacy settings. all you have to do is read before clicking blindly. no need too insight paranoia.

Mycah Mason
Mycah Mason

My criticisms to the author of this article. Very irresponsible move to post this article without even mentioning that you have the option to turn off this feature. You are making this out to be WAY worse than it really is just for shock value. Like people don't have enough to worry about already? That being said, I think it was also very irresponsible of FaceBook to make this change without so much as an email to inform people of the changes ...at least I never got one.

M.W.H.
M.W.H.

I believe Facebook choose the wrong default privacy setting when they went to implement this global search idea. Facebook was founded on privacy and tight school networks. Parents like me were happy to see our daughter's move off of MySpace and over to a more private network. I was shocked to see that they chose to make it public against their original premise. A little help here from all you Facebook experts... I just flipped my privacy setting from 'Everyone' to 'Just my friends' but at the bottom of the settings page there are check boxes prefaced by the paragraph below. Can someone more familiar with Facebook, please re-state this paragraph for me so I can understand what the effect will be if I clear all these boxes? Considering the audience for Facebook is about 12 years old, I'm sure this paragraph is as clear as mud for the typical Facebook user. "You can choose what is in your search listing. People who can see your profile are allowed to do all of the actions below. For people who can't see your profile, select what they can do. Note: These settings also apply to your public search listing, but only people who are logged in to Facebook will be able to take any of these actions"

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Any member of your Facebook networks can see your profile and do all the things listed. They are asking you how much of that do you want people outside your networks to be able to see and do, and that includes non Facebook people. Then they point out that anything requiring an action in Facebook, like send an invite can only be done by a Facebook member who is logged in. In effect non members can see the information but can't act on it.

jasonxco
jasonxco

I did turn off the public search listing easily too when I signed up. So its no big deal if they want to increase their revenue, as long as they give their users the option to control their privacy.

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

According to USA Today, "Last week, Facebook made limited member profiles available to non-Facebook members with a new search box at the bottom of the Facebook homepage. ... Some Facebook users say they are perturbed because they joined the service so they could choose whom they communicate with ? and not be exposed to the Internet at large." Do you have a Facebook membership? If so, are you bothered by this news? If not, will this news prevent you from joining Facebook in the future?

GSG
GSG

What's the problem? If you don't want your info available, then maybe you shouldn't POST IT ON THE INTERNET to begin with.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

on the internet where access is limited as per an agreement, and having some one sell it off to anyone you don't know in violation of that agreement.

reina_oscura
reina_oscura

Of course I am bothered! My privacy means a lot to me and also to most of my friends. We do not want to be google-able. This is a bad move on facebook's part. I certainly would not have joined if i knew this was going to happen!

SeaChild59
SeaChild59

I do not have a facebook account, and after reading this, I am not likely to set one up. At least with other web pages I have, I can choose who looks at my profile. I don't think I like the idea of having my information, no matter how superficial, available to the world at large!

jerry
jerry

...and I rarely visit any of them unless a good friend sends a link for family photos or something. Then if you have to join to see the photos I just move along. But I think all these sites should be available to all the search engines so if I want to check out someone I know I can find them easily. For around $8 a month one can get their own Web site and put what info they want to be open to all and what's passworded for friends and relatives. So why worry about the rules and regulations of these other sites along with the spam when you can have your own site totally controlled by only you? I've had a personal Web site for many years and only give out the address to friends and since I don't use Web tags the search engines leave me alone.

make7
make7

That is exactly what I do and I have no problems with search engines finding me either. So, only my friends and family know exactly where to find info about me. Plus, I only share what I want to. Almost all my friends are on one of those sites, but I guess if you don't know HTML, you go with what you can. Sad part is, they all accept it and don't even think to ask me to help them make a website of their own. Of course, there's also the (small) price for a website that most are just not willing to pay.

rustyhorn
rustyhorn

what's the big deal? got something to hide?

stsai
stsai

Can someone send me the link to the article? i would like to read what they wrote. If facebook is going to do such a thing they "have to" tell the people who use it. Isn't it a law for most things that if you sign up and the contract is allowed to change, but the changes must be made to its members? Second, if they do have such a feature for you to "check/uncheck" whether you would like to be searched or not... why is it still a big concern? If you don't want to be searched uncheck the box. Don't take me wrong, I do like my privacy, but I just feel like you have to trust the people whose application you are using. If you don't, then you probably shouldn't have an account. If this check box is suppose to make you unsearchable then it will do just that. Another thing is, I've heard stories that pretty much anything is searchable already no matter how hard you try to hide it. Someone once said that there are companies who can pretty much get everyone's information (private info like socials) and they not even know it....the unfortunate side of all this.

Inkling
Inkling

I haven't read the TOS of Facebook, but as someone else alredy stated, most "free" sites state that although they may not currently share/sell your information, they reserve the right to do so at any time. I'm guessing that Facebook's TOS says something along those lines. In that case, they wouldn't have to tell their users. As far as getting people's private information...there are thousands of ways. For example, as a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, I am supposed to provide a copy of my DD214 (discharge papers)to my local government. This form has my SSN on it. This form also falls under the Public Information Act. As a homeowner, the deed to my house is on record with the local government as well. This deed also has some private information. This also falls under the Public Information Act. This is how you get so much junk snail mail. Most people's information is out there if someone REALLY wanted to get it, with or without these pay services you mention. [i]...have to trust the people whose application you are using. If you don't, then you probably shouldn't have an account.[/i] You've just touched on why it amazes me so much that so many people supply these types of sites with so much personal information. They are [b]NOT[/b] to be trusted. Part of the problem is that a parent that doesn't teach their kids to protect themselves, in all probability, isn't going to pay attention to what they are doing online. My wife has two siblings in their early teens. She showed me their MySpace pages. I gave my father-in-law a stern talking to after seeing that, not only did their pages have their cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, SCHOOL SCHEDULES, but they were not restricted to friends only.

stsai
stsai

Well.. yes I understand that you do have to know what you are doing. I guess I don't really supply that much and don't like opening accounts so I didn't really think about it in that way (meaning teenagers). It is try that you are not suppose to trust any sites but I guess to me it's still a hand in hand thing. You trust to a degree, but yet you also know how to properly use it. It goes for a lot of things in life. I have to agree though that kids don't really think that far. But when I first found out about facebook I was in college. So i assumed that it was geared toward the young adults and not teenagers. Having said that, most people in college should know what they are doing at that point in time or have friends who do.

JayGee21
JayGee21

Todays corporate world has no moral nor ethical compass. Tried Netflix 2 week free trial lately?? After you sign off they already have made a charge to your CC before you even get your free trial. California corp I believe where are your offices?? ~?? You work in the corporate world of IT why would you be shocked or surprised they sell you to the highest bidder while giving you nothing? Freedom of information ACT - Got to love stupid politicans. The corporate world does what makes money for them and if they step over or on you to do it and you come at them with lawyer in tow you get a oops my bad.. and they do a make shift fix to ward off the legal guys. Close out your account and move on. ??? They can't sell what you don't give them.

kevmark58
kevmark58

I will be deleting my facebook account soon.

Bronte G
Bronte G

Please tell us what parts of your life need to be so secret that you can no longer be on-view in Facebook? I do not mean "tell us your secrets", just which parts of your life will be available for others to see that may be hurtful to you. I have not trusted the idea of Facebook ever, as I do not want the obligation to respond to others as much as I fear that may allow. I have had four or five invites to join, and declined them all. So your reasons may well be very good ones, whatever they are. Or they may not. You are the judge.

nora.geiss
nora.geiss

it's not all that hard to get into facebook and find you as is. besides, you can always set your profile to private. in this increasingly searchable world, we are going to have to get used to taking extra measures to assure our privacy.

tags
tags

Yes, I am bothered. I don't use Facebook for networking with non-users and non-friends. I hope I can change my settings so only friends can view me.

james.gentry
james.gentry

I just LOVE how people use a free (to them) service and then howl like crazy when the provider of that service wants to do something to actually make money.

wolfshades
wolfshades

James.gentry wrote: I just LOVE how people use a free (to them) service and then howl like crazy when the provider of that service wants to do something to actually make money. No howling here. We're free to leave, too. And I plan to.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

people signed up on the condition it wouldn't be public - this is what they were told, and what they agreed to use. now it's fairly popular, the owners are changing the terms and NOT sending individuals alerts to everyone. A unilateral change of the contract. I'd like to see everyone close their accounts and leave the buggers with nothing to sell.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Putting up a notice on their admin page is NOT the same as actively telling everyone. I found out, last night, that my attempt to create a Facebook account several weeks ago did create one - despite the difficulties. They have my email address, and haven't sent me any notification of any changes, not even an email saying 'We have changed this - go read it at...' Without such an active message, no one would feel a need to go check anything out.

GRIMMJOW
GRIMMJOW

Facebook actually posted a notice for all active members... I am sure they will include it to all new members.

NickWaterson
NickWaterson

Well at best it was mildly amusing.. after all... all the people I decided not to keep in contact with... found me and started wanting to turn me into a vampire or zombee... go figure. But on the news that it would become searchable etc from elsewhere I decided to get rid of my account... ONLY TO DISCOVER that it becomes deactivated... I can 'restart it' any time.. so all my data would still be there. Funny take on I WANT TO CLOSE MY FACEBOOK ACCOUNT FOR EVER. So my advice go through and delete everything you ever did on there and then deactivate and forget!

Inkling
Inkling

people are free to attempt to make money. You are correct that anyone complaining about a person trying to make money is stupid. However, you are not being honest in your criticism. The truth of the matter is, people signed up with FaceBook under certain conditions. These conditions are now changing. The manner in which they are changing is unacceptable to some of the users. They have every right to voice their displeasure at changes. They should, shortly after voicing their displeasure, cancel their account. You have every right to deride these people, but at least do it honestly. I mean, I'm sure if your cell phone company decided to double your monthly fees, just because, well gosh, they would really like to make more money, you wouldn't make a peep right? Just because you can't wrap your mind around the concept of people placing a value on this, doesn't make it unimportant. And it certainly doesn't make them averse to someone making money from a service they provide. EDIT: No, I have never used any of these sites and I never will.

Inkling
Inkling

I made an assertion. I provided my reasoning for that assertion. Any "attitude" I displayed was MUCH less than the person I replied to. IF you even consider anything I wrote to be "attitude". Where was the fluff? You'll have to explain that one to me. What about my post was dishonest? I'm open to criticism, but you'll have to do a better job of it if you expect me to take it seriously. James.Gentry made the assertion that people talking about this were simply complaining about an entity, which is offering a service, attempting to profit from that service. My assertion is that he isn't being completely honest about the reason for the discussion/complaints. Listen, this is what adults call discussion and debate. If your too sensitive to handle it, than by all means, move on. If you would like to add something constructive to the discussion, I look forward to you proving to me that you are nothing but an impotent troll.

techrepublic
techrepublic

Why all the fluff, the non-essential attitude? How does it help the point you're trying to make to accuse others of "not being honest?" Is it possible in YOUR limited mind that the poster was simply mistaken because he or she has a different take on the issue? (I'm assuming that such a presumption isn't possible for you to imagine of yourself, given the tone of your last post.) The fact is, it is YOU who are the dishonest one. I write that because you have already stated in writing that honesty is a trait that's apparently important to you. But here you are making judgments based on little or no evidence, then berating people with your moronic comments just because... let's REALLY be honest now... you're not face to face with them in the same room. Is this really how you comport yourself with others? Honestly? Grow up. Oh, and nice post-EDIT. Like any of us care.

euan
euan

I am not bothered by this because I do use their privacy settings. Infact that's one of the main reasons I think the book is popular over other networking sites, because of these privacy options. Only my friends can view my profile and that's the way it should be.

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