Nov 29, 2007

big brother is watching

Facebook has a new feature - not only does it track and on-sell the actions you take while within the Facebook site - it monitors your off-site browsing, keeps that data and on-sells it too. There have been several cases of people just going to Amazon, buying a book and seeing that information appear in a friend's Facebook newsfeed etc. This new application is called Beacon - and beware!

Now, we should all be aware that the whole point of facebook is to trick us into having a good time, divulging way too much personal information and then making money out of us. I have no problem with this so long as we are all aware of the risks. However, I do have a big problem with Facebook monitoring what I am doing when I am NOT on the Facebook site.

Fortunately there are things we can do.

The first thing to do is to download a little plug-in for your Firefox browser (I am assuming you know the goodness of Firefox and the badness of all things Microsoft). This wee beauty was written by someone specifically for the facebook/beacon application. Read about his experience with and opinions of the Beacon here (worth reading!)

Secondly go to MoveOn and sign their petition to Facebook to improve the privacy protections around this new application

Thirdly, and least effectively join the Facebook group Petition: Facebook, stop invading my privacy!

Fourthly, and MOST importantly - remember that Facebook is not a secure system - it is not private it is not like sending private emails to people - every single thing you do while on the Facebook system is logged, tracked and sold. There have even been cases where people have been able to open bank accounts etc etc in the names of other people by using information provided on Facebook, in combination with other publicly available information.

Right. I have installed the plug-in, signed the petition, joined the group, and now I'm off to facebook to have a closer look at my privacy settings...

More stories about Facebook privacy breaches here


Anonymous said...

or you could not be on Facebook... I know, totally unrealistic! :)

home handymum said...

Oh of course. Facebook is hardly a life-support system. But there are a few people whom I keep in contact with far better through facebook than I do through anything else.
And I don't have a problem with them using the information that I give them - but I do have a problem with them assuming they can just trawl for information about me from anywhere, simply because I have a facebook account.

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