Facebook Is Going To Drag You Away (Into The Public)

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Facebook as a company is going public very soon and, begrudgingly, its dragging all of its users into having a more public presence whether they like it or not.

While Facebook's Timeline feature poses a complicated assortment of privacy issues due to pushing personal information into public view - information that used to be concealable, such as what your interests are or who your friends are - Facebook users in general are growing ever-more conscientious about their privacy. A new survey from Abine, who released the Do Not Track Plus browser extension earlier this year, shows that 70% of Facebook users don't trust Facebook with their personal information.

As concern has grown about user privacy on Facebook, approximately 60% of users proactively adjusted the privacy settings on their profile last year. Even then, the privacy settings are limited as Facebook seems to force users to share at least some information to the general Facebook public, like details from your newsfeed about who've you become friends with lately or pages that you like.

More, did you know that you can no longer hide yourself from being searched for on Facebook? It's true, and Facebook seems to think this is a great thing. From the Facebook Help Center:

We used to have a setting that controlled who can look up your profile (timeline) using your name. We removed that setting because your profile (timeline) could be discovered in other ways in connection with your name. For example, if you selected Friends or Friends of Friends for this setting, it only prevented your profile (timeline) from showing up in search results. It didn't prevent a link to your profile (timeline) from showing up in search connected to other posts, like posts you're tagged in. It also didn't prevent your profile (timeline) from being discovered through other search terms like employment, college, location, etc. Additionally, anyone who knew your unique timeline address (with either your User ID or username), could find your profile (timeline).

Thanks, Facebook. Y'know, just because the really diligent stalkers could find me on Facebook before without using your search feature doesn't mean you should have made it a little easier for them by making me show up in search results.

What's most puzzling about the Abine study is that 43% more Facebook users are "very concerned" about their privacy post-IPO, as if they have some revolutionary sixth sense that they may get fed to the no-privacy lions.

At any rate, Facebook's pushing us all out into the wild and short of leaving Facebook altogether there's not much you're going to be able to do about it. And for those that have resisted the Timeline so far, get ready: the day of reckoning is coming when Facebook will suck us down the Timeline drain, too.

To document exactly how this all came to pass, Abine put together a timeline of their own that details how Facebook has gradually lurched away from providing users with adequate privacy options.

Albine Infographic: A World More Transparent

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