Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A heads-up for Facebook users: be careful out there

For me, the first flag was raised, when, looking for information on a product, I was asked to "Like" the manufacturer on Facebook before I could see any information about the product.

Then, not too long ago a friend emailed me that the "Like" button would now also operate as a "Share" button.

Now, Facebook is moving to allow third party developers and external websites the ability to access users' home addresses and cellphone numbers.

Apparently, Zuckerberg/Facebook thinks it’s a splendid idea to disseminate users’ info to anyone who wants it.

Think of it this way:
Suppose a billboard company offers you free space on any billboard they own. Your billboard is located on a major interstate highway in any of a dozen metropolitan areas. You can put anything you’d like on the billboard as long as you include your address, phone number, age and other vital statistics. Would you do it? After all it’s free, as long as your personal information is displayed for the public to see. Think of the exposure ... the possibilities!

Your reaction should be “Are you out of your f---ing mind!!!” Yet, incredibly, people will allow themselves to be a part of this sort of thing on Facebook because somehow, they don’t think it’s a significant development.

Folks, “Demographic Mining” is the same thing as intrusive phone calls at dinnertime or the Church-of-We-Have-All-The-Answers knocking on your door before the sun comes up on Sunday mornings.

If you choose to “share” your information with the world, that’s your business, but don’t complain to me when suddenly your quiet little hide-away becomes a giant fishbowl surrounded by thousands, if not millions, of prying eyes.

UPDATE: Facebook has contacted The Huffington Post with the following statement:
“Despite some rumors, there's no way for other websites to access a user's address or phone number from Facebook. For people that may find this option useful in the future, we're considering ways to let them share this information (for example to use an online shopping site without always having to re-type their address). People will always be in control of what Facebook information they share with apps and websites.”