Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lie of Transmission #1

Check out the article 4 Things Facebook Doesn't Tell You about your Privacy and Security at CSO Online. The "4 things" are as follows:

1. We don't want you to change your privacy settings
2. We have little control over application security
3. We know which websites you're visiting
4. Your information is being stored in places outside of Facebook

But what's wrong with that, you ask? Facebook didn't do anything wrong, per se, you say? Actually they have. Evasions like these are lies, lies so common we have a handy term for them: Lies of Omission.

Why should these lies of omission concern you? The reasons are manifold: Facebook's waning security exposes you to the ravening universe of internet underworld, making you vulnerable to all variety of virtual (and in some cases physical) harm: identity theft, sexual predation, scams, fisching, the whole enchilada. The bad kind of enchilada, not the good kind that makes you all bloated.

Each of these evasions warrants a custom C+A+D cartoon, and today's toon focuses on the first important point:

1. We don't want you to change your privacy settings
While Facebook does provide the capability to change your settings, they clearly prefer that you don't. This is made obvious in several ways:

- Firstly, you the FB user must opt out of your information being shared publicly, instead of opting in. Duh.
- Secondly, using and even finding all of the privacy controls is intentionally made very difficult. How do we know it's intentional? Well, the alternative is that Facebook software engineers are stupid; clearly they are not, ergo, the convoluted controls are designed to dissuade and confound you.
- Thirdly, you are never prompted to change your settings; it is up to those users concerned about privacy to sniff them out.
- And finally, if those poignant points didn't convince you, take heed: there is information that you can no longer protect. Simply, the option no longer exists. Check out Facebook's Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline.

If any good comes of all this, it's the amusing analogy that changing your Facebook settings is to 2010 as programming your VCR is to 1985. The difference being, and this is the salient point, your VCR never stole your credit cards, sold your SSN, used your identity as a fisching front and absconded to a foreign country.

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