Apr 22 2010

Facebook’s Privacy Issues

I’m not going to lie: I really am getting sick of Facebook. The site is seriously a privacy nightmare. Take, for example, Facebook’s notable announcements this week. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, described his vision of the Internet as a web of human relationships with users sharing all sorts of information with one another. Part of the vision is a universal Like button, which lets users let others know that they, well, like something.

The problem stems from the fact that users do not know precisely how much they are sharing and with whom they are sharing such information. And with Zuckerberg’s new vision for Facebook, profile information could be accessible to third-party sites. Facebook’s privacy settings are unclear at best and useless at worst. When the settings were changed six months ago, 65 percent of users kept their profiles public.

Users either do not understand their own privacy settings or simply do not care, both of which are a problem. Of course other companies, such as Google, have had problems with privacy in the past. But as Dan Costa said in his article at PC World, “For Google, having users share private information is a constant risk and an unfortunate side affect of its services, perhaps even a liability. For Facebook, it is a business model.” And personally, I do not want to have anything to do with a company that has such a business model.

Via PC Magazine, image via Facebook.

Feb 26 2010

Italy Convicts Google Execs Over Video

Italy’s courts have rendered a highly controversial decision against internet search giant Google.  The case was over a video posted on Google Video of an autistic teenager being bullied.  Under Italian law, this is highly illegal, and the executives in question –  Peter Fleischer, David Drummond, George De Los Reyes, and Arvind Desikan – were originally charged with defamation against the teen.

The presiding judge over the case, Oscar Magi, dropped the charges regarding defamation.  However, all but Desikan recieved six-month sentences for privacy violations.  Drummond is the chief legal officer at Google and has stated he was “outraged” by the verdict.  And he makes a valid point with his full statement:

“I intend to vigorously appeal this dangerous ruling. It sets a chilling precedent… If individuals like myself and my Google colleagues who had nothing to do with the harassing incident, its filming or its uploading onto Google Video can be held criminally liable solely by virtue of our position at Google, every employee of any internet hosting service faces similar liability.”

This blogger wholeheartedly agrees.  Google did the right thing; it provides a relatively open hosting space, but the second the video was brought to its attention, the video was removed.  The very openness of the internet is under attack by this verdict and it creates an impossible standard for content providers to live by.

Via BBC News, image via Google.

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