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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Breaking up with facebook is hard to do...

When it kicked off back in 2004, it was just a method for students at Harvard to share info. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg (and who ever else was actually involved with it) didn't really know what they'd got themselves into from what I've read. Anyway, it turned out that "facemash" (as it was first called) became the website they decided to call facebook which in turn became an almost overnight global sensation. It wasn't actually open to the world until September 2006. I joined up not long after in 2007.

Zuckerberg has come in for a lot of criticism over the years, and some of it appears to be well placed. Facebook's attitude towards data security hasn't been a good one. The rumours of how the people that work at facebook use the data are all bad, and the tools for the user to be able to manage their own security settings are equally poor. Things have been bad.... very bad....






But the take up of such a dodgy environment has been huge!!. And when I say huge I mean off-the-scale. They now claim to have over 500million users signed up and most estimates suggest around 50% use the site everyday. That is an insane amount of traffic. It's also an enormous amount of personal information about a very large number of people.  With security and privacy being so poorly managed no-one should feel surprised when the see headlines like this:

Details of 100m Facebook users collected and published

But actually this isn't a particularly new or disturbing story....  What's actually happened is that some bright spark has written a piece of code that harvests all the publicly available information from the facebook site. Note how this information is Publicly available.  This is simply because at least 100 million members of facebook have not changed their default privacy settings and so their information os free for all to see.

If you want a better understanding of some of the impact of this, take a look at this site: http://youropenbook.org/ which gives you the ability to search all of the unprotected posts on facebook in real time. And this is just posts..... not birthdays, biographies, phone numbers, email addresses, all of which also exist and many of which aren't hidden from view either.

Given all these terrible traits, people still join facebook.... and they don't appear to be leaving in a hurry either. And that is for two very simple reasons. 1) All their friends are on here and that's how they keep in touch. Even more-so now that they can do it from whichever mobile phone they have (and everyone has a mobile phone in the 1st and 2nd worlds) and 2) Where would they go?? There's hundreds of social networking sites out there, but none seem to be a viable alternative or picking up enough momentum to take on the might of the appallingly managed facebook.

Sadly this is true for me to.  I keep banging on about leaving facebook, and I'm trying to.  I don't post to it any more. Although I do post selective tweets....  and occasionally I'll have a look at my friends status updates.... and maybe comment on a few...  and post the odd picture...  d'oh... you see??.... It's like giving up any addiction. Damn near impossible. But it can be done.

Just recently there have been rumours of a "Delete Account" option being in the works, or in some cases available, and for those of you that are really ready for it, there's a Wiki How To which explains what you need to do. http://www.wikihow.com/Permanently-Delete-a-Facebook-Account.  Me?, I'm really nearly almost set to consider thinking about the possibility of leaving facebook....  *** Sighhhh ***
 

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