Over the past week or two, there have been repeated “petitions” against the changes made to Facebook that allegedly make stalking easier. As is common in popular culture—particularly here in America—people find it easier to whine and complain than to think something through logically.
The first violation was Facebook adding a “mini-feed” that tracks updates to user information. Users complained and tried to have the feature removed, because Facebook didn’t implement privacy controls before enabling the new features. That was indeed an egregious mistake on behalf of Facebook. Two or three days later, the new features had full privacy controls, and now all users who dislike the new “features” can opt out. Problem solved. Facebook has learned not to enable new features without appropritate privacy controls.
And now, there’s news of Facebook opening itself up to anyone and everyone, based on geographical regions. The complaints are emerging again, in the form of “petition” groups, instead of rational arguments directed towards those who are in charge of Facebook. And this time, it’s the users who are wrong. Let’s get a few facts straight:
There are already privacy controls that allow users to enable or disable access to your profile based on other peoples’ networks. That is, if you are in a network for your school, your company, and your geography, you can customize who can see what parts of your profile. The protections are already there, it is merely up to the users to employ them.
Public access will be enabled by letting people join their respective geographies. That is, you will be confined to exactly one geography if you’re not part of any collegiate or corporate network. As a student or employee, you can prevent people in your geography from seeing any of your profile using one of two means. You can (a) restrict access using privacy controls, or (b) do not join a geography to start with.
Like it or not, Facebook is now a company out there to make money. If you don’t like the way they’re conducting business, then you are not obligated to use their site. You can delete your account if you so choose. We, as users, do not retain any right to run the site—they will try to accommodate our privacy concerns, but if you feel they’re not adequate, then get out or stop complaining.
Personally, I am a fan of the changes Facebook has made. Sure, all the information was there before, but there was no easy way to track what was new in my friends’ lives. Facebook has made it easier for me to keep up with what my friends are doing, and vice versa. In fact, before these changes, I used to maintain a “recently updated” line in my profile to make it easier for people.
If you are concerned about your privacy, then please examine and employ the controls that are already there before you blindly complain. People like to make noise, even when it’s completely unjustified. And I’m tired of hearing it. If you’re concerned about it being too easy for people to “stalk” you on Facebook, then please look at the controls. If you can’t figure out how to use them to protect yourself (if you care), then you need to get a brain, and reserve no right to complain. Online stalking is extraordinarily mild as far as “stalking” goes, so keep that in mind—it could be much, much worse.
None of the students who are complaining will ever have any trouble with people in geographies that cannot see them, but that logic is lost amidst the ease and excitement of raising hell and complaining. I welcome the changes, because it will make it easier for me to add friends who may not be part of a college or company network. As for people stalking me, I’ve got my privacy controls set to prevent it from being a problem. Get smart, or get out. Don’t try to ruin my fun on Facebook just because you’re too retarded to protect yourself.
The Internet is a scary place, and Facebook is comparatively tame. If you can’t protect yourself on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t use the Internet, because the scum of the Internet will be able to find you even without Facebook. I could show you lots of information out there that you didn’t even know I could find, and it’s all a matter of public record. It’s a hazard of a free society. Accept the risks as part of our freedom and openness. Be smart and be safe, but don’t be a retard.