The Economist on Facebook Privacy

This week's Economist:

[compared with Google] Facebook’s problem is more fundamental. True, the social network has some of the most extensive privacy controls on the web, but these have now become so complex—and are tweaked so often—that even privacy experts find them bamboozling. The company also has a powerful incentive to push people into revealing more information. Facebook generates most of its revenue from targeted advertisements based on users’ demography and interests, so the more data users share publicly the more money it can mint from ads. It may well be betting that users are now so hooked that they are unlikely to revolt against a gradual loosening of privacy safeguards.

The worst thing is Facebook’s underlying prejudice against privacy. Sign up and it assumes you want to share as much data as possible; if not, you have to change the settings, which can be a fiddly business. The presumption should be exactly the opposite: the default should be tight privacy controls, which users may then loosen if they choose. If Facebook fails to simplify and improve its privacy policy, it will justly risk the wrath of regulators—and many more Facebook suicides.

Summary: Facebook prejudiciously assumes you want to share all your personal info, all naysayers are pushed to do so with frequent tweaks reacting to which is a bamboozling (sic), fiddly business for users. All so that that Facebook can mint more from targeted ads. Assume, push, bamboozle, mint. That's the Facbook business model in a nutshell.

Posted: 25 May 2010

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