The Public Debate Over Facebook Privacy

Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening keynote address at the f8 Developer Conference on April 21 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

After the giant social media site Facebook changed its privacy policy, requiring users to opt out of keeping private information private from third-party sites, some ex-Facebook devotees decided to opt out of the networking site altogether. Some watchers of Internet privacy issues say that now’s the time to take on Facebook before the private company steps on its users rights; others say that staying with the networking site and demanding changes will do more good.

Are you annoyed or upset over Facebook’s privacy issues? Are you leaving Facebook? Or does it not matter to you? Let us know in the comments section.

Lawyers, Guns & Money | “In short, Facebook is like a beloved national homeland poisoned by a corrupt and unyielding government. As in real life, a few people like Dan will respond to such a situation by ritual suicide. Others will choose to exercise voice and or soldier on with resigned loyalty to life under the boot. But in real life, a significant number of people choose to defect, to flee. That’s different from just “deleting” yourself. And to do that, you have to have somewhere to go.”

Alternet | “While marketing companies who specialize in targeted advertising may rejoice, these results may be troubling for those who’ve held out hope that Facebook could provide adequate privacy controls. Not to seem alarmist (“privacy” on the Web has always been overrated), but if these researchers could develop a limited algorithm that can infer rudimentary attributes off locked profiles, the possibilities seem endless for others to harness advanced software that could render current privacy controls completely useless.”

The American Prospect | “Users need to expect that companies will respect their privacy. They should demand this. Walking away doesn’t help. The reason that EPIC filed the complaint with the FTC is because we think that this about unfair and deceptive trade practices. There is not much users can do when Facebook keeps changing its policies and the users’ privacy settings. People shouldn’t drop Facebook or boycott. The FTC should enforce fair and transparent business practices. That is an obvious role for government.”

Social Beat | “Mark Zuckerberg needs to come forward and explain what he truly and genuinely believes about privacy. Why? Because even as the company has created ever-more-detailed privacy controls, Facebook’s moves can appear disingenuous (even if they’re not). Why spend months designing a privacy overhaul and default most of the user base to public? Why do people have to choose between an emptier profile and making their likes and interests public? Where is this instant personalization project going? It feels like a slippery slope. To where? Facebook’s users don’t know. So the company should just be frank and that message should come from the top.”

Truthdig | “Facebook has become something of a privacy nightmare (but then what did we expect when we turned over the social sphere to a private company?). Grumbles aside, here are some quick changes that can keep Grandma in photos without sharing your sexts and pokes with the world.”

Best of the Web …

Here Comes the Neighborhood | The Atlantic

Urban-style housing in walkable neighborhoods—including those in the inner suburbs—is what’s in demand today. And for a variety of reasons, that demand will intensify in the coming years. Only by serving it can the country kick-start growth in an enormous and essential part of the economy.

Yet the creation of new, attractive urban spaces is slow and difficult, and becomes all but impossible without substantial new infrastructure. Most of all, it relies on good transit options—especially rail links—around which walkable neighborhoods can develop. Rail, biking, and walking infrastructure is the backbone of urban development, and as a country we’ve for the most part neglected to build it in recent decades, in favor of new roads for new suburbs farther and farther away from metropolitan hubs. To support growth in the next decade, we need to change that dynamic—and nourish our walkable urban spaces and neighborhoods. Complicating matters, in these cash-strapped times we need to find a way to do so on the cheap.

I Don’t Know Kagan and Neither Do You | Global Comment

Obama and Kagan do share a trait: both serve as targets for Progressives’ ideological projections. While Obama campaigned as an incremental moderate technocrat, much of the enthused Democratic and Progressive base hailed his arrival as the return of the Great Liberal Savior, who would bring us all universal healthcare and end all the wars. Upon Obama’s victory, confetti would rain from the heavens and every American would receive a brand new Golden Retriever puppy. Or something.

To Obama’s credit, he never promised any of this. With the important distinctions of being a gifted orator and running a brilliant marketing campaign, Obama spoke in the same bloodless triangulating vocabulary of the Clinton era. He just dressed it up a bit, and made it sound pretty. Go back and listen to any Obama campaign speech. Most of them are comprised of platitudes. Seriously, who is going to heckle “Hope”?

In the same way, some Progressives and Democrats are projecting their desires onto Kagan, who is largely a blank slate. She has never been a judge, so there is no paper trail of her ideologies in the way there was with Sonia Sotomayor.

Worst-Case Thinking | Bruce Schneier

There’s a certain blindness that comes from worst-case thinking. An extension of the precautionary principle, it involves imagining the worst possible outcome and then acting as if it were a certainty. It substitutes imagination for thinking, speculation for risk analysis, and fear for reason. It fosters powerlessness and vulnerability and magnifies social paralysis. And it makes us more vulnerable to the effects of terrorism.

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