The Evolution of Facebook’s Piracy Policy … err Privacy Policy


There are already tons of articles out there on the web, ranting about the changes made to the default privacy policy settings of Facebook (which makes your personal info public by default). So, ill keep this short and try to sum it all up using infographics prepared by Matt McKeon, a developer with the Visual Communication Lab at IBM Research’s Center for Social Software.

The 2 graphs below indicate how much of your personal data is accessible by third parties online and how that accessibility has changed between 2005 and 2010. The dark blue represents the availability of your personal data, by default.

availability of personal info in 2005

availability of personal info in 2010

What does Facebook get by giving third parties more access to your personal info? Its the ad revenue stupid. Think Google.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in the first quarter of this year, Facebook pulled ahead of Yahoo for the first time and delivered more banner ads to its U.S. users than any other Web publisher.

And why not? Facebook makes money when you click on the ads presented to you. You would be more willing to click on those ads if they were personalised for your needs. Facebook also sits on a wealth of your personal info. Now Facebook is providing that info (as the default setting) to third parties who can target you with more personalised ads. Simple, isn’t it?

The main issue here is that Facebook lured in people with its foundation of strong privacy settings and is now pulling that very foundation from its user base. I dont think most FB users are complaining though. According to this Wired article most of the current anti-Facebook rantings are by adults over 35 years and not its core user group in the age bracket of 18-34 years. However, there is this interesting article in the New York Times about people realising the long term implications of sharing private information in the public world of Facebook.

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