Whenever we bark about Facebook and privacy I liken it to complaining about politicians. In my mind, you have no, as in zero, right to complain about a politician if you didn’t cast a vote during the election of that official. Plain and simple. If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.
The same thing goes for Facebook. The Internet industry is always up in arms about Facebook privacy concerns. We write angry posts fueled by our righteous anger and the righteous indignation the whole world must feel when Facebook treats our privacy like a piece of toilet paper by, well, you can guess where this is heading so I will stop.
Well, now Facebook is pulling another stunt regarding privacy and how you can manage who is getting easy access to your information. Now, please note it is only your public information but the easier it is for Facebook to connect the dots with people the better it is for them even if the new feature equates to a “de-facto follow feature” as noted by TechCrunch’s MG Siegler. He writes:
A few days ago, Facebook made what seemed to be a small tweak to its Friend Requests area. As first noted by Inside Facebook the social network changed the way friend rejections work. Previously, you could either Confirm or Ignore (deny) a request. Now, Ignore has been replaced by “Not Now”. This new option takes some of the pressure off you having to reject people as it instead moves them into a state of limbo, where they’re neither accepted nor rejected. But it actually does a lot more as well.
You see, when someone requests to be your friend on Facebook, this automatically subscribes them to all of your public (“Everyone”) posts in their News Feed. Facebook doesn’t talk about this much, but it’s a very real feature, which we reported on in July of last year. You see these posts until this person rejects you (because obviously if they accept you as a friend, you’ll keep seeing them). So with this new Not Now button, and the removal of the simple rejection mechanism, Facebook has basically created a de-facto follow feature.
Facebook is becoming masterful at knowing just what people fear (rejection and actually doing the rejecting) and as a result they are using that to get ever sneakier in how they push data out into the world. Considering the apparent lack of morals and ethics that exist at the top of the Facebook tree (as in few if any) this kind of action is really to be expected but it doesn’t make it any more acceptable.
Now, to be clear, all of this information seen by “followers” is information that is already public. A random person could visit your profile page and see all of this stuff. But it’s interesting that for pending friends (which again, will now be a ton of people), Facebook starts pumping this info into people’s News Feeds. Remember, this was basically the cause of one of the early backlashes against Facebook when the News Feed was first implemented. Even though it was just showing information that everyone already had access to, it was doing it in a more streamlined way that freaked everyone out. Now they’re doing something similar again, just in a more stealth manner.
He last two words, stealth manner, are the ones we need to be most careful of regarding Facebook. They are not interested in your best interest or your privacy. They are interested in exploiting your data and using lawyer like precision to work around things so they can say it is an ‘acceptable practice’ but is it really without everyone at large knowing what they are doing and why?
Facebook is going to become a huge problem for many people when they start to see a lot of requests from people they have no clue as to who they are. I am seeing more of these already. I just reject them. If I have not been given some kind of genuine introduction I am not calling anyone my friend. To do otherwise is to feed into the apathy toward these requests that Facebook is relying on.
So what can you do? Lock down your profiles and tell everyone who is not a friend that you are not interested. You won’t hurt their feelings because they are likely some kind of Facebook spammer or miscreant anyway.
Until that time that you completely prevent Facebook from using you and your friends you have nothing to complain about. Remember to vote against Facebook’s schemes and deceptions designed to line their pockets. If you don’t then please be quiet and just let Facebook steamroll your apathetic social media existence. You deserve as much if you don’t take action.