How to protect your data: don’t give it away! And how Facebook isn’t to blame… much.

This won’t be popular, I know, but the election did show me very well how we can all have very differing opinions and get along like a house on fire at the same time. So here goes…

I won’t regurgitate the details, if you’re reading this you probably know what it’s about. Let’s look at this sensibly;

  1. Facebook is a web site – it’s on the World Wide Web, a globally-accessible, publicly-available open network.
  2. Your Facebook is protected by a password- that’s all. No secure server, nothing. So it’s not that secure anyway.
  3. You accepted the terms & conditions and everything that goes with them.
  4. You choose what information you put onto Facebook. Anything that can be seen publicly is as a result of your actions.

Bearing this in mind I find it hard to see why so many people are so up in arms that their ‘data’ is out there.

I will concede that Terms & Conditions are often pretty damn cheeky with lines like “we reserve the right to change these T&Cs without actually telling you” which is, in my opinion, unethical and yes, significant changes should be subject to acceptance of new terms and conditions, just like you have to accept new friend requests.

That shows that the problem is not in what Facebook is doing so much as what it asks you it can do. You give it permission to do what it’s done, then later when it actually happens and you actually realise what the unintended consequences were, you attack Facebook.

Facebook is only to blame for it’s lazy Terms and Conditions. They’re certainly not the first though and won’t be the last.

Thing is, we all know none (or very few) of us actually bother to read the T&Cs and that is no-one’s fault but our own. It’s kinda hard to expect anyone to do that when their privacy policy is reportedly longer than the U.S. constitution. I don’t honestly expect anyone to actually read that.

What I would like to see however is people taking ownership of their actions. Realising that the data is out there because they made the decision to put it out there, rather than being horrified when Facebook changes the way it publishes that data.

Facebook can only do that because you gave it your data in the first place. I only put information on the web that I’m comfortable telling any random stranger on the street. Therefore, I’m not bothered how Facebook uses that information (including making it available to third party apps & web sites) because it’s nothing sensitive.

The bottom line is, take ownership of your data. Don’t give it away if you wouldn’t be willing to tell a stranger, ’cause that’s all Facebook is – a stranger – despite the close relationships you may maintain on the site.







3 responses to “How to protect your data: don’t give it away! And how Facebook isn’t to blame… much.”

  1. Freddy Avatar

    Take responsibility for our own actions!? That’s just crazy talk.

  2. Mrs Woffington Avatar

    Very interesting; I agree with you, though when you realise that liking companies on Facebook gives them access to your data you do tend to think carefully about who you want to link to. I must say, I monitor my privacy settings with a nerdish interest, but that’s just me.

  3. Philip John Avatar

    Ha, yes Freddy, I know it’s hard but we must try ;o)

    Interesting point that, Mrs Woffington. I’m probably more careful than most because I *understand* how this stuff works a bit better thanks to my nerdy interest. Maybe everyone needs to geek it up a bit :o)

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