Has Facebook got its privacy policy right this time?

ImageFacebook has changed its privacy settings again. Will users be satisfied this time? The Facebook privacy saga has been going on pretty much since the social networking site’s creation, at first because the idea of sharinganything online was a foreign one, but Facebook CEO said at that stage that: “Privacy is the vector around which Facebook operates.” However, his stance has changed considerably, with one of his more recent quotes being that, “While the company will protect privacy rights, it aims to promote social networking, and users are part of the site because they love sharing information.” Which, reading between the lines, suggests that he might think the whole uproar about the site’s privacy policy and the fear that users have about having their online data exposed to unwanted recipients is unwarranted and silly.
Be that as it may, after the outcry at the beginning of 2009 when Facebook basically told users that whatever data they posted on the site belonged to the company, which was free to do with it as it pleased; the subsequent retraction of these terms of use; and the implementation of new privacy settings ostensibly to give users more control over who was able to view what on their profile, Zuckerberg is feeling the pressure to listen to these ‘silly’ complaints more than ever before, especially with movements such as ‘Quit Facebook Day’ and potential ‘Facebook killers’cropping up.

As a result, Facebook has rolled out yet another new set of updated privacy controls for its users,addressing the pressure to better secure personal data stored online and protect users from internet stalkers; cyber criminals; and other nosy users, as well as making it much simpler to control exactly who has access to what.

Microsoft Social Media Researcher, Danah Boyd, says that “Quitting Facebook is pointless; challenging them to do better is not.” Perhaps this is true – it certainly seems that Facebook users’ complaints are addressed in some shape or form, even if it takes the company a few tries to get it right, and even if it sometimes seems the changes are made under sufferance.

With the constant commentary surrounding Facebook and its privacy issues, it is up to us to decide how much we trust the site; how we feel about possibly having our information shared with unknown third parties out there; and what the personal costs would be for leaving the site altogether – I’m not sure I could do without it yet, as sad as that may seem!

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