Facebook trades your security and privacy for profit, so be careful of what you post and consider who is going to have access to it. Also, change your Facebook settings in as many areas possible so that the only people who can see what you post, are your friends. Companies like Facebook allow other businesses, for the right price, to scan through your posts and place advertisements accordingly. However, Facebook is allowing more and more people to have access to larger amounts of people’s accounts by no longer providing the option of opting out of information sharing freedoms.
The larger issue is that, although people do not have to use social networking sites such as Facebook, they would be cut off from a great deal of society. This begs the question as to whether or not Facebook is worth the risks that include serious issues such as identity theft and smaller ones, such as an emotionally harmful comment. The best solution to this issue is to use Facebook, but be careful about how much information one reveals and to opt out of privacy sharing agreements whenever possible.
Before the question as to whether or not Facebook is worth the risk is answered, people must first understand the reasons why social networking sites such as Facebook are used. Firstly, Previous generations did not have such technology and they are proof that it is not required in life. However, it has become such a significant part of daily lives and is now relied on for news, friendships, relationships, business, and more. Now that websites like Facebook exist, it is more difficult for its users to imagine a world without them.
People have come to rely on social networks to unite them with their fellow man at a speed that is much faster than telephones can provide. These websites provide a whole new way for people to meet others, relationships to grow, and connections to be maintained. It even allows people to regain connections with the people who are most important in their lives, but with whom they have lost contact. For people like Jessup in North Hollywood, who has had very little contact with his family for years this is an extremely beneficial aspect of social networking.
He said, “It’s unbelievable how much I’ve expanded my family connection because of the Facebook app on the iPhone” (Hansen, Kristena). In situations like Jessup’s, Facebook is a very important part of life. There are many reasons why over 500 million people, a number from a Facebook corporate missive, use Facebook, despite security breaches. Firstly, people have come to rely on Facebook for a significant part of social networking, in fact, according to The Los Angeles Times author Kristena Hansen, “Social networking takes up more than 10% of the time that Americans spend online. For a lot of the American population, this is a generous amount time.
The question is, what are people doing on Facebook that consumes them for so long? Most prominently, people are posting comments on their friends’ walls and having conversations in the chat windows that Facebook provides. However, many people are also following some of their favorite businesses, bands, television shows, and movements. They do this by joining a webpage created by one of the previously mentioned groups that allow the spreading of ideas to move far more quickly through the world.
For example, the head of a webpage can post the time and place for a concert or rally etc. and millions of people will have access to that information and its effects. This is one of the most crucial aspects of Facebook, and is a reason why so many people have joined it. In other words, “Facebook helps movements ignite,” says David Unze, author of an article in USA Today. When people are not using the chat feature on Facebook or posting comments on each other’s walls, they are most likely spending the remainder of the 10% of their internet time on some of the many applications that Facebook provides, including FarmVille and Restaurant City.
FarmVille is one of the most popular of the half of a million applications that Facebook provides, and has 59 million users (Steel). Many companies see this number of users and realize that it is a great way to market products and ideas; creating a company Facebook account or signing a deal with Facebook can be great for business. Another feature that many people love about Facebook is that they are able to have conversations at their own pace, which allows them to be careful with what they say. Furthermore, this provides a new way to get to know people without committing to a long conversation.
Since people are given the power to carefully control what they say in conversations, post on walls, and display as photos, they also have the power to limit what private information is being shown. Therefore, people have a certain amount of security, even if there are other threats that are outside of their control. Another great aspect of Facebook is that anyone can request friendship with any other person and have access to their wall and information, which makes it easier to talk to people who had not formerly known much about each other.
This also lets users know the people with whom they have something in common. These are some of the reasons why people cope with the security issue on Facebook. The cause of the security issue begins with people having the capability to see what any other person says, even people who are not on their friends list, unless they have changed their security settings. However, not everyone keeps their wall as secure as they should. For those who have not changed their settings, their account is at risk of being exploited. Private Facebook information is valuable to many criminals and companies alike.
To criminals, this information can let them know when a user is not home and provide them with an opportunity to steal from them. Also, criminals can use photos of a user as well as credit card information or a photo of their drivers’ license to steal their identity. As for companies, they often pose a more constant threat, albeit less dangerous. These companies buy rights from Facebook that allow them to search through anyone’s profile, conversations, and posts to see what they like. This allows them to tailor their advertisements to provide the best sales pitch to win your support.
Although these ads could be just what some people need, most people find them obnoxious. Some people feel even worse about these ads, like Disa Powell, who said, “I felt like I had been seriously violated” (Cha). As a matter of fact, she felt so violated that she took the matter to court. In her court case, as the Washington Post described, because Facebook account information is stored on the company’s servers, on the “cloud” that is the Internet rather than on the individuals personal computer, the company owns it, not the user.
Companies are allowed to buy personal information because, upon setting up an account on Facebook, it is required that everyone agree to the License and Agreement. As soon as the box is checked, stating that the user agrees to Facebook’s terms of service, all rights to total privacy are removed. As an author of The Observer in London, England explains, “Everyone knows they ought to examine the small print of any contract they sign. Few actually do. We are especially cavalier about giving our consent for things we haven’t read in order to access services online” (Unknown).
This author goes on to ask if people are lying when they check the “Yes” box that says that they understand the contract. Also, this writer says that it does not actually matter because, if someone checks the box without reading the information, then that person does not truly care what becomes of their information. Once privacy is signed away, it may never be retrieved, even if that Facebook account is deleted. This is because some companies store the data that they take from people’s walls for months, while others store it for years (Cha).
For those who remain oblivious to the wars for security that are raging around them, the following cartoon, an image from Newsweek, depicts everyone who remains in the dark about what Facebook and other free social networking sites are doing. (Lyons) However, despite Facebook selling private information, the solution is not for the millions of users to delete their accounts, even though it will stop companies from receiving further information. The benefits of social networking on Facebook outweigh the consequences.
To maintain security and privacy on Facebook, there are a few simple tasks that can make a huge difference. Firstly, people should not create a Facebook account if that person is not willing to share private information. However, although it is always possible, it is not necessarily likely that someone will misuse personal information for anything other than advertisements. Also, after creating an account, it is helpful to change every setting available so that only the people who can see private information and photos are people on your friends list.
Also, unless the computer is in a safe location and is password-protected, do not check the option that makes that computer remember a Facebook account password. Lastly, be extremely cautious about what is posted and make sure that there is nothing personal revealed. For example, do not take a photo of a new drivers license or credit card, because anyone can misuse the information. Basically, as Samson Garfinkel summarizes it in his Technology Revue, “Privacy Requires Security, Not Abstinence” (Garfinkel). Facebook is worth the risk, but only after the risks have been decreased in such a way that keeps you safe. ?