How Facebook stole your info

For people who are not aware of this yet, Facebook made a tiny change (like they keep doing) a little while ago.

It was in the privacy settings where, like everything else, they wanted you to open up your life to anyone with an internet connection. This one – called “Instant Personalization” – allows your data to be shared with Pandora, Microsoft Docs and Yelp. Which in simple english meant that when I logged onto any of these sites from the same computer I was logged onto FB on, they could automatically access my profile – yes, the one with the personal information about my school, workplace, status messages, all those photos and videos, friends’ lists and whatever else – and then create a “personalized” list of things to browse from.

Of course, they don’t tell you what any of those sites are going to use the data for. Or how long that data is going to be there.

Facebook’s Gone Rogue. (The title of an article on – check it out.)

What was once this private little thing where I could share some instant communication with friends miles away, is now a free-for-all buffet for internet users. I applauded when FB came up with some settings to restrict who could see what exactly. That meant there were certain links and messages that my boss couldn’t see. Or those pictures could be hidden from those people who know of me professionally only.

Though most of these settings were set by default to “everyone” (which in FB speak means everyone in the world literally), you could still tweak it. Then FB realised that there were way too many people tweaking it. So now, if you want to tell the world what your interests are, you have to share it with a public link.

In advertising terms, this is a gold mine. With a few clicks, I can access the exact demographic for my product.

But the little idea with which Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook is as extinct as dinosaurs. It was about connection people, sharing information. Then Mr.Zuckerberg got famous.

Privacy is a thin line now. Strangers swap the most intimate conversations. Most communication occurs electronically and you have no idea who is reading your mail. You co-exist with the world with flimsy curtains between people. And now Facebook is even taking the choice away from people – the choice to pick what you want to share with the world.

Yes, you could easily say that don’t put it up there if you don’t want someone to see it. But the whole point of Facebook was to share. The photos you took on your vacation, the little stupid things you did, the venting space, the notes you write, the links you think are interesting… and you mean that to be shared with the people you know. Not with any guy who has an internet connection. If that were the case, I would sign up with… what’s that new video chat thing?

Facebook is apparently competing with Twitter. Seriously? Twitter is chaotic. Twitter was never meant to be personal. Twitter was 140 characters of a second. It wasn’t personal pictures, videos, memories and conversations. Nobody has a conversation on Twitter like they have on Facebook walls or messages. And Facebook still is the second most popular way of spreading news. People read the links their friends have posted.

But pushing them all into the slaughter house and expecting them to go along, particularly in a world where privacy is the last illusion left, is suicidal. True… from a business point of view, it does net them several millions in revenue. But long term? With such massive violations? And would the regulators just watch?

If a company can sue you for stealing their data – be it simple data, movies, music or whatever else as copyright infringement – why cannot I sue Facebook? Or anyone do that? Because no matter what clause they put in their terms of service, if they do not give you a choice to disagree or opt out of certain things, then perhaps it isn’t binding.

Unless the choice they give is – go all the way or get out. I wonder how long before we start getting out.

Song of the day: To love a woman – Enrique Iglasias

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