Lawdy, what does Facebook think it’s doing?

“Well, what my friend Ari discovered is that some of the personal details listed on your Facebook profile aren’t things that you listed, or things that you even knew were listed about you at all. In fact, they’re details about your life that Facebook has decided to publish to the world on your behalf. In Ari’s case, he found out that his Facebook profile reported that he had bought tickets to a movie the other night – it even listed which movie and the date and time he bought them (oops, and his boss thought he was working). Kind of creepy if you consider that Ari could have told his fiance that he was working late that night while Facebook said otherwise (he didn’t, but I’m just saying). Or how about if Ari kept buying tickets to gay films, would that have been an interesting fact for Facebook readers to know about, let alone Ari’s fiance? (Again, he hasn’t… well I think he hasn’t, maybe I need to check Ari’s Facebook profile.) And God only knows if Facebook has similar info-sharing deals with Amazon or other book vendors. Buy any books lately on herbal remedies for cancer, AIDS, or any other disease? Or how about a book entitled ‘So you’ve had an affair’ or ‘So you’re gay’ or ‘Coping with mental illness.’ Buy any sex toys or condoms online? You get the picture.

“From what we’ve been able to glean, Facebook automatically opts its users in to this privacy-violating pyramid scheme and the only way you can get out of it is by visiting every single one of Facebook’s corporate partners (whoever they are, we only know about Fandango at this point), and telling each and every one (if you can figure out where to tell them this) to stop publishing your private information on Facebook. God forbid that Facebook asked its members to opt in to this little scheme and/or gave its members a one-button opt-out rather than requiring them to visit every site on the Internet and search for the Facebook-privacy-violation-opt-out-button. And, even after you do that, it’s still not clear if Fandango and others are still sharing your movie-going habits and other purchases with Facebook.”
Facebook, the new Big Brother, by John Aravosis, AmericaBlog, November 20, 2007

I’m suddenly glad I’m too plebian to be on Facebook. But I’m sure MySpace will do something equally stupid given enough time, and Morlock, sorry Murdock, owns it (but I was there a full two weeks before he ate it).

Update 112407: Also at the WSJ online.

Update 120207: I’m late but here it is – Facebook Bows to Privacy Protest, now it’s an opt-IN deal.

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