This is a follow up to my recent post: Concerned about privacy on the social web? Particularly because of the recent news of Facebook changing its Terms of Service. The story broke on Consumerist, and there’s still a lot of buzz going around.
There’s a lot of talk about how ‘scary’ it is that Facebook and other sites get access to all of our personal information and tell us they will use it however they wish. Personally, I don’t worry too much. The first thing you’ve got to remember is ANYTHING you post online pretty much becomes public domain. And it’s there permanently. Even if you delete your profile or a web page it still exists online in cache files and chances are someone can find a way to access it. Don’t believe me? Check out the Wayback Machine an internet archive site that shows you past versions of any web site. (tip: it’s a lot of fun to look up big brands like Pepsi and see what its website looked like in 1996).
One thing you have to remember about Facebook is it’s not a big company formed by fat cat executives. It was a couple of college students who created a site to keep in touch with friends. Yes, it’s exploded and Mark Zuckerberg is now a millionaire–and yes Facebook is now a *real* company with shareholders and executives and the likes, but it’s also already very profitable and doesn’t show any signs of struggling. So why would it want to ostracize it’s gigantic user base and screw us all over? I don’t think that’s a feasible explanation. And really–what’s the worst they can do with your information? Sell it? Tons of companies are doing that anyway. I don’t like it either, but it’s certainly nothing new. In fact, my guess is this move was more to protect themselves BECAUSE all your information is cached and they still have access whether you delete your account or not.
Who knows, maybe Facebook will prove me wrong. Whether you are concerned about this issue or not, the important lesson to remember is DO NOT post anything online that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with the world.
So Facebook reverted its terms of service, posted a message to users AND created a group looking for user feedback. I can’t help but feel I was a little bit right about this…