Facebook Privacy Removed By Default, CEO Adamant

Dennis Faas's picture

The CEO of Facebook has sparked a new debate by claiming the site's users no longer see privacy as a priority. Mark Zuckerberg says recent changes that make more user data public by default represent the site reflecting a "social norm."

Speaking at an awards ceremony in San Francisco organized by the TechCrunch blog, Zuckerberg said, "In the last five or six years, blogging has taken off in a huge way. People have really gotten comfortable sharing more information and different kinds but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that's evolved over time." (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Facebook Privacy Removed By Default

The comments follow a string of privacy controversies for the site, most recently involving the removal of the ability to restrict information to those from the same regional network. In effect, this changed the default position that most information is open for full public view.

While users can change most of these settings, altering the defaults prompted claims that Facebook wanted it to become standard practice for users to share all of their details. That certainly appears to be borne out by Zuckerberg's comments. He explained that when making the most recent changes, Facebook asked itself "What would we do if we were starting the company now, and we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it."

Critics: Too Many Changes Without Notice

In addition to complaints about the default settings being too open and presumably vulnerable, critics also argue that every time the site makes changes to its policies, it automatically makes some data more accessible (giving users the chance to then change it back) rather than asking before making the changes.

Adverts, Terms and Conditions Anger Users

Previous Facebook privacy disputes have involved an advertising system known as Beacon (upsetting users by supplying personal data to advertisers), and a proposed change to the site's terms and conditions, which appeared to give Facebook the rights to all user data (including uploaded photographs) even after an account was canceled. (Source: pcworld.com)

It's important to remember that Facebook is primarily a business: indeed, it's big business. While Zuckerberg and his colleagues may have a genuine interest in doing the right thing by their users, the site is designed to make money, primarily for advertising. The more user data is publicly available, the better targeted adverts can be -- and thus, the higher the rates they will sell for.

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