It is not surprising that the recently launched Facebook Timeline has raised new privacy concerns. Facebook Timeline is deemed by a public interest group to be exposing too much of users’ information without their explicit consent.
Bodies Concerned About Facebook Timeline Privacy
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has requested that Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should investigate likely privacy violations by the new Facebook Timeline. The group argues that Facebook is changing their privacy settings such that more personal information of users is being disclosed than in the past. They explained that Timeline gives Facebook more control over users’ data and make previously inaccessible and archived data available to others without users’ explicit consent.
This is not the first time Facebook will be having issues with EPIC/FTC. The first time EPIC requested that FTC should investigate Facebook’s privacy practices in 2009; it was a two-year tussle that lasted till 2011. Eventually Facebook had to make a huge settlement, and Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, owned up that the company made a “bunch of mistakes” as a result of” poor execution”.
In the end, it was agreed that consumers should be clearly notified in advance of privacy changes, and Facebook should ensure they get explicit permission of users before sharing their information. They also agreed that Facebook’s privacy settings should be audited by a third party every two years for the next 20 years.
What is wrong With Facebook Timeline?
The real argument is that Facebook Timeline brings your past back to life. Posts, comments, notes, videos, pictures and other things that were posted ever before anyone anticipated that Facebook would grow so large can now be easily traced with just a few clicks of the mouse. That means Timeline gives access to things you have even forgotten you posted on Facebook.
If you are among the early adopters of Facebook, you probably started using the social network before recruiters began to consider looking up online social profiles; when older family members hadn’t heard about Facebook; and prior to when you learnt online social etiquette.
Today, Facebook has attained over 800 million users, and how you use Facebook has greatly changed. Grandparents, employers, husbands, all have Facebook profiles and are connected to you. Unfortunately, Facebook Timeline can be used to dig up things you have left behind and buried in your past. It opens up deep access to your past and allows in-depth insight into your life such that even criminals can now use your profile to monitor your life.
Facebook’s Position on Timeline Privacy Concerns
Facebook has explained that Timeline doesn’t actually change the privacy of users’ contents. They elaborated that Timeline actually brings more effective ways of controlling your past and present information. They said the exposed information could have been available to others one way or another in the past.
As a user of the giant social network, where do you stand? Do you support EPIC’s assertion that your present and past information is being given too detailed attention or Facebook’s claim that you have more control over present and past information?