Facebook has changed its privacy settings. If you haven’t already seen the popup window requesting that you update your settings, you will soon. It looks pretty straightforward, but you will notice that “Everyone” is the default setting in this new tool. Before accepting the default settings, it is important to think about the implications.
TechCrunch posts a concern for the motive behind the new privacy settings, and the implications. If you choose the default setting of “Everyone”, Facebook can claim that if sensitive data is leaked out, they aren’t liable since you chose the Everyone option. TechCrunch isn’t the only big name with concerns.
Mashable ran the policy by some privacy experts and came to similar conclusions. Users are being encouraged to share everything. This is not bad in and of itself, but it is likely to affect the majority of users who don’t pay attention to things like privacy.
Here in the SOLIS department we have been discussing Facebook’s evolving privacy issues. My colleague David Dickens noticed early on that things he was not sharing were showing up if his friends installed certain apps that mined for personal data. Even setting up privacy back when Facebook was strict about it didn’t keep his data private. For the most part we are fine with the privacy settings, since we know that anything put anywhere online isn’t completely safe. We expect a significant amount of our online dealings to be made public in one way or another. We want to encourage our readers, peers, and students to think about the same things.
You can read Facebook’s explanation of the privacy settings here.
The bottom line is not that the sky is falling and we are all doomed. This has been a good opportunity to rethink the kinds of material you post online, and the fact that if it is critically private data, maybe we should rethink posting it in the first place.