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What Happened to Facebook?

And what happens to Facebook users? Do they care? Nah!

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SAN FRANCISCO (EFF) — The Electronic Frontier Foundation have been keeping a close eye on Facebook privacy policies. On 28 April they published excerpts from said policies from 2005 and forward to the present day. They paint a clear picture.

'Watch closely as your privacy disappears one small change at a time.'

Facebook 28 June 2005

Facebook was known as 'Thefacebook' back then. [Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.]

Note the middle paragraph.

'No personal information that you submit to Thefacebook [sic] will be available to any user of the Web Site who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings.'

Then there's this little gem about removing data in your account.

'Thefacebook users may modify or remove any of their personal information at any time by logging into their account. Information will be updated immediately.'

And so you don't get too cozy or complacent, there's this insignificant caveat.

'We reserve the right to change our privacy policy at any time. If we do this, we will post the changes to this policy on this page and will indicate at the top of this page the policy's effective date. We therefore encourage you to refer to this policy on an ongoing basis so that you understand our current privacy policy.'

Facebook 27 February 2006

'We understand you may not want everyone in the world to have the information you share on Facebook; that is why we give you control of your information. Our default privacy settings limit the information displayed in your profile to your school, your specified local area, and other reasonable community limitations that we tell you about.'

Facebook 23 October 2006

The first of the two 'core principles' is excellent.

'You should have control over your personal information.'

The EFF want to also point to the following.

'Profile information you submit to Facebook will be available to users of Facebook who belong to at least one of the networks you allow to access the information through your privacy settings (e.g., school, geography, friends of friends). Your name, school name, and profile picture thumbnail will be available in search results across the Facebook network unless you alter your privacy settings.'

Facebook 19 November 2009

Wayback has no further Facebook privacy policies after 30 July 2008. The information below comes from other sources.

'Facebook is designed to make it easy for you to share your information with anyone you want. You decide how much information you feel comfortable sharing on Facebook and you control how it is distributed through your privacy settings. You should review the default privacy settings and change them if necessary to reflect your preferences. You should also consider your settings whenever you share information.'

'Information set to 'everyone' is publicly available information, may be accessed by everyone on the Internet (including people not logged into Facebook) is subject to indexing by third party search engines, may be associated with you outside of Facebook (such as when you visit other sites on the internet) and may be imported and exported by us and others without privacy limitations. The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to 'everyone'. You can review and change the default settings in your privacy settings.'

'Facebook is a free service supported primarily by advertising. We will not share your information with advertisers without your consent.'

Facebook 9 December 2009

Big changes in a small time. Privacy ('considered publicly available to everyone') takes an explicitly deep dive.

'Certain categories of information such as your name, profile photo, list of friends and pages you are a fan of, gender, geographic region, and networks you belong to are considered publicly available to everyone, including Facebook-enhanced applications, and therefore do not have privacy settings. You can, however, limit the ability of others to find this information through search using your search privacy settings.'

Facebook 22 April 2010

The current privacy policy at time of writing. Things get better and better.

'When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you. The term General Information includes your and your friends' names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting.'

'The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to Everyone.'

The policy changes over the years tell a clear story - the classic scenario of Eloi and Morlock, of Bait and Switch. Users were lured into the site on the explicit promise their information would be kept private. But things have to change when the revenue streams appear - but of course without eroding confidence too much, without everyone fleeing in panic.

A good way to start is to change 'opt in' to 'opt out'. That usually confuses most of them.

Why Facebook users have been so naïve remains a mystery. It can't be gullibility and stupidity alone - or can it?

Peer pressure! Peer pressure's a terrible thing!
 - Kate in French Kiss

See Also
rocket.ly: Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Facebook's Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline

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