Ignorance is bliss, a new privacy nightmare is born

Facebook announces that they have just integrated Microsoft Live Search into Facebook. Undoubtedly to generate some cash revenues next to the advertisement business they are in.

Am I the only one that finds that they get scarier every day. Facebook not only builds walls that ensure it’s nearly impossible to get out of, but now they also track and trace me while I am searching the web? With Google at least the search results are anonymous and adding to some greater good and benefit of the user while leading to revenues for Google. With Facebook I am not anonymous while I’m searching. Facebook gets into my profile, my friends, my interactions and now search. And it is all for the user of course as they note in the announcement:

Along with your search results, you may also begin to see ads for products, services or other things that are relevant to your query.

It obviously won’t take long before Facebook starts messing with your search actions to provide you and your Facebook friends a “better”  experience within Facebook, as Leah Pearlman from Facebook notes when she finishes her exciting announcement:

Leah is searching on Facebook for a good place to eat tonight with her friends.

I’m sorry, but the giving you a better user experience just doesn’t cut it for me. Facebook provides interesting social networking features but their advertisement based business model puts them on the Big Brother side, not on my side as a user. They are digging in way too deep into my social interactions for me to feel safe when I use the service.

What scares me most is that most users either don’t care or don’t understand the possible implications of this. If there was any country or government in the world that would keep track of it’s citizens the way Facebook is doing we would be talking cold war and dictatorship. But on the web it seems to be OK that someone holds private information on more than 100Mln users (that’s a big country), their relationships, their interactions and search.

Ignorance is bliss they say. I say we’re all a bunch of morons that we allow this to happen. By giving companies like Facebook access to such large amounts of private data we are opening the doors for a privacy nightmare. And that door can’t be closed anymore. Facebook doesn’t forget.


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13 Responses to Ignorance is bliss, a new privacy nightmare is born

  1. I dont see any problem in that. Privacy is overrated actually. It would not be a problem for FB to show your friends what you are looking for, unless you are searching for porno 😀

  2. @Ashraf Facebook knows about you, your interests (political, sexual, religion etc. etc), your relationships with others (including their interests), the things you buy, see, go to, search. Once you join Facebook, your soul is theirs. There are numerous examples in history of mankind where that kind of information has lead to terrible misuse. Why is that problem overrated? Privacy is too important to be handled by these companies.

  3. We are just watching the devastating results for Main Street of the greediness of an elite of egoistic, greedy and short term focused generation of managers in Wall Street and major coporations. But the new generation, sadly, it looks to be even worst… and that is not an easy task to accomplish. The main and recurring expression used by these kid is: “how to monetize” and I add “no matter of any bad implication”.

  4. John says:

    This is really a question: Fb knows what you are searching for simply when you have it open – even if you are using Google to search, or only if you search using Fb?

    curious. thx – John

  5. Tom says:

    I agree with you that privacy is in meltdown, and the potential problems of power in the hands of corporations – and it feels like Facebook is behaving exactly as you describe – in a foreign policy posture of alignment with Microsoft and pursuing a monetisation war with protectionist attitudes towards the open web. I guess that’s why I prefer the open networks and google, with at least it’s aspiration to resist evil.

    It occurs to me that in some way, data drifts inexorably towards openness – hence the need for protections, and the big change (particularly since Facebook) is the revealing of your real identity. I think this is the beginning of a big trend which will impact massively on relationships and identiy – it’s happening now. The web is so young, and there are already generations emerging who’ve not known living without a digital presence. I think we’ll adapt – but it’ll be messy, and people are going to have to learn a lot of lessons about ‘being’ online. And while a reflection of people’s identity will be online, people will always be the means and places to hide online – but overall I do think the big trend is openness.

    That’s my tuppence, FWIW

  6. @Tom you are right, the trend is towards openness. The real issue is that current business models do not easily allow us to build user-centric services. One could easily implement privacy controls that the user himself is responsible for. But the free advertisement based business model doesn’t allow this to happen. And since users don’t really understand the importance they won’t pay for it easily either. Openness is fine, but the user should always be able to decide for himself what happens to his data and interactions.

  7. Cibeles says:

    I’m Spanish and I live in Ireland. I say all that because I have live in two different places with different levels of privacy from society point of view and from the legal point of view.
    As Spaniard and when I was living in Spain, I have an ID card with my photograph and as everyone else in my country I had to offer my fingerprints. I would like to highlight that everyone in my country is obliged to do that even the Royal family, I say that because in many countries being fingerprinted is a sign of having committed a crime. In Spain it has no such a mean I must insist is legal obligation you have once you are 14 years old.
    My Id card number is unique only me has that number and identifies me everywhere. To be honest it simplifies my life so much, that it was the first thing I hated in Ireland, not having ID that would identify me and help me in any dealing with bureaucracy. That said I immediately notice one thing in Ireland I had never notice in my country, there was absolutely no privacy in this country and no sense of what it means to keep things private. As much as Spaniards like to gossip and know about people, from the legal point of view people and institutions are careful that certain data is kept private and secure.
    On the other hand in the country I live now it seems as people don’t understand the concept of privacy and there are a significant number of problems with data that should be kept private, even though in this country supposedly there is more privacy and less State intrusion.
    My point is this, it’s not a problem how much Facebook knows about you and how much access they have to information about you, but whether there are mechanisms in place to protect your privacy (that means that your data is kept private and used only for legitimate purposes) and people is aware and conscious of what privacy means. If you don’t teach people about privacy and about keeping data private both in their personal and working lifes (and that means giving it an ethical and moral sense, so that when they know about a breach they act to avoid that or act to legally act about it) you’re going to get nothing. What I mean is you need to teach people not to complain about what Facebook could do with that. Facebook is going to do as much as it can do or is allowed to do, and it’s obvious that they have legitimate reasons to do business with that data you provide, they need to keep themselves in business.

    The problem are not governments or Facebook like companies, the problem is whether there are instruments in place to avoid leakage of data and privacy controls and ways to legally act if something happens. And also it’s very important to educate people about privacy and what it means for them and for others, so that people don’t go into others profile and invade their privacy breaking both legal and moral rules (also called respect for others, in plain english)

  8. Tom says:

    Couldn’t agree more – and the best services are building those controls. Problem is really the default settings trend towards both openness and exploiting the user for commercial gain.

  9. @Cibeles thank you for your explanation, really appreciate it. I agree that people need to be educated. But with regards to the tools, I’m left with only one question: Who protects me from Facebook? They can provide me all the privacy controls I need, but it only protects me outside of Facebook (in other words, it keeps competitors out). But Facebook doesn’t implement controls that allow me to be protected from Facebook. In other words, I do not have control over my data. And that is bad, since Facebook has a business model that feeds on my data. They need to use my data in order to create revenues.
    We need institutes that have only one objective, to provide a user privacy controls so that he can manage his privacy. A trusted third party that doesn’t have an advertisement based business model (like a bank).

  10. Cibeles says:

    To be honest with you not being part of Facebook I find a bit difficult to understand what you mean with protection from Facebook. Facebook does have access to your data, but Google does it as well. What I mean about tools is that they strip data of elements that might make possible to recognized you. What I talk is about is similar rules as the ones used by the search engines nowadays.
    You can’t ask Facebook to follow more stringent rules than the search engines, and if a level of protection is adequate (for instance search engines) it should be adequate for websites like Facebook.
    In any case the alternative to what you say would be a paying model, and I’m sure that in that case Facebook would very happily accept to keep your data private and not make use of your data for business purposes. Many websites offer you that alternative, Facebook like many others are not yet offering that because they want to feed the “need” factor that would move you from free service to paying service, like in the real world is to have a house (a very universal need). Unfortunately social networks are still in their beginnings and not too many of them can yet afford to live with a paying model. But surely Facebook would offer a paying option if it proves to be profitable, just to say that I’m not working for Facebook or Microsoft or any other of these websites, and in reality I do have a page there but have visited the place a couple of times literally, so not really sure how Facebook works.
    To be honest with you the privacy problems in online networks are nothing but an image of what happens in real life, it’s not so different. 😦

  11. @Cibeles. There is one big difference between a searc engine and a social network.
    I need to log in to a network and identify myself t them. They can therefore link everything to my identity. A search engine collects data too, but ccan’t link that exactly to my identity (but they are getting close). Google has similar issues imo. As soon as I am logged into a Google account they can identify me.
    And yes, a paid version would solve such issues. That is why I don’t like the way social networks work now. Their business model is based upon advertisement which means they NEED to leverage your data.

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  13. Pingback: Big Brother Keeps ALL Your Secrets

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