With the newly announced Facebook Places already sending the eyebrows of privacy campaigners arcing skywards, a nifty new infographic has appeared highlighting Facebook’s less than illustrious track record on privacy.
Starting from the site’s inception back in 2004 as thefacebook.com, the graphic flags up privacy concerns raised by the service, with site founder Mark Zuckerberg ruffling feathers right from the start after he hacked into school directories to post up students’ photos without their consent.
Places and privacy
The new Facebook Places feature – which lets you and your friends check in to places – is already causing concern online, with a Yahoo Editor going as far as to post up a page explaining why he’ll “never use Facebook Places:”
The difference between Places and other location services is that your Facebook friends can check you in to a location. If you don’t want your friends to be able to do this, however, you can disable this feature. If you agree, you will be notified each time a friend checks you in and you’re able to untag your location if you choose, but only after it has already been published on your wall – the same way Facebook serves photo-tagging…
I would only consider roughly 25 people on my friend list to actually be current close friends of mine. The other 163 are all acquaintances, most of whom I went to school with and haven’t seen this decade. Do I want all of these people to know where I am? Not on your Nellie, because – and excuse my pessimism – when people know where I am they will also know where I am not, i.e. at home. While I’m sure none of my close friends are looking to rob me blind, how can I be so sure about the people I haven’t seen in the last ten years? Addresses are usually pretty easy to find off the back of information people display on Facebook and this has led to numerous incidents of burglaries in the past.
His concerns echo the message sent out by the ‘PleaseRobMe‘ site, which originally warned of the perils of folks announcing online where they were:
The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home. It gets even worse if you have “friends” who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That’s right, slap them across the face.
To get a feel for Facebook’s past record on privacy, check out the graphic created by Lisa Waananen below: