This Week in the Mercury

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The Walk Is a Terrifying, Annoying Marvel

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Joe Jackson: King of the City


Joe Jackson: King of the City

His New Album Spotlights Four Cities from Around the Globe

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Facebook Privacy Freakout Du Jour

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Seriously. Seriously? Facebook (they don't need my stupid home page link) is fucking dominating on the internets and yet they just gotta keep meddling and pissing off their members? The Electronic Frontier Foundation reported yesterday:

Today, Facebook removed its users' ability to control who can see their own interests and personal information. Certain parts of users' profiles, "including your current city, hometown, education and work, and likes and interests" will now be transformed into "connections," meaning that they will be shared publicly. If you don't want these parts of your profile to be made public, your only option is to delete them.

Or, they point out, you could tell Facebook that you're under 18. But you shouldn't have to lie. Read the announcement yourself on the Facebook blog (in the creepily titled post "Connecting to Everything You Care About"), and in case you're not annoyed yet (for being expected to read the fucking Facebook blog), here's why this is annoying:

The example Facebook uses in its announcement is a page for "Cooking." Previously, you could list "cooking" as an activity you liked on your profile, but your name would not be added to any formal "Cooking" page. (Under the old system, you could become a "fan" of cooking if you wanted). But now, the new Cooking page will publicly display all of the millions of people who list cooking as an activity.

Cooking is not very controversial or privacy-sensitive, and thus makes for a good example from Facebook's perspective. Who would want to conceal their interest in cooking? Of course, the new program will also create public lists for controversial issues, such as an interest in abortion rights, gay marriage, marijuana, tea parties and so on.

But even for an innocuous interest like cooking, it’s not clear how this change is meant to benefit Facebook's users. An ordinary human is not going to look through the list of Facebook's millions of cooking fans. It's far too large. Only data miners and targeted advertisers have the time and inclination to delve that deeply.

Are we freaking out yet???

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