Privacy concerns for social networks*fnord* ? November 23, 2008 6:48 AM   Subscribe

am I the only person hoping for more tinfoil-hat in this question?

I myself refuse to get a facebook/myspace/linkedin/whathaveyou account, because (grab your tinfoil hats, everyone) I believe the privacy implications of giving such a large amount of personally-identifiable information to a third-party corporation (especially one like facebook, with a history of privacy issues) to be, well, frightening. Does the average mefite consider such things, or are they not even on your radar when using facebook et. al?
posted by namewithoutwords to MetaFilter-Related at 6:48 AM (69 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I'm a huge privacy advocate...for other people.

I don't provide certain detains that I wouldn't provide in person, but other than that, my life's pretty much out there.

Previously to Facebook I did maintain a firewall between personal and professional. I won't talk about work (for the most part) online. And I refrain from discussing my online journal at work. Again, this has eroded somewhat.

Facebook make me a bit uncomfortable, but mostly because I haven't spent enough time on it to figure out all the settings and who can see what, etc. So I end up with something a bit bland.

I don't worry about the privacy things, since I would give anything that I consider private out, but then again, I consider a lot less as private.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:56 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


"would give anything" = wouldn't give anything
posted by cjorgensen at 6:57 AM on November 23, 2008


I have a friend who is a who's a pretty classic computer geek and total electronic privacy nut who gives me the same grief about my Myspace and Facebook pages every time I'm over his place. Then he asks me if I can load my Facebook page up so he can see what everybody's up to.
posted by The Straightener at 7:12 AM on November 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


They're on my radar, but realistically, as a sub-average user with nothing interesting about them that someone might want to steal, I can sleep pretty well at night.
posted by scabrous at 7:13 AM on November 23, 2008


Between Google and Facebook, The Man has everything he needs to do anything he wants to you. So, yeah, it's definitely a legitimate concern.

But, meh. Everyone's doing it.

(We're all jumping of the Brooklyn Bridge next week, BTW.)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:14 AM on November 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't understand your post. If you thought the privacy implications of facebook were relevant to the question, you could have answered yourself. If you don't think it's relevant, then why would anyone else have mentioned it?

It's come up in previous questions, anyway. So you could have gotten a handle on the average mefite's response without trying to get your chatfilter on MeTa.
posted by jacalata at 7:38 AM on November 23, 2008


I completely agree, I think phone books, alumni directories, and maps should be illegal too.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:47 AM on November 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


The thread you link to is pretty reasonable. It does not need more "tinfoil hat." Facebook is fun, as long as you understand the privacy settings, and don't post too much personal info.

The end.

Anyway, who thinks Hillary is just the stupidest choice for Secretary of State? Bill Clinton already operates a de facto privatized US foreign policy. Isn't there some sort of conflict of interest here?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:49 AM on November 23, 2008


I know a few hardline self-described "privacy geeks" who are on facebook. I suppose they have reached the same conclusion I did a year or two ago that any megacorporation or government that really wants to find a picture of me or my birthday or my city of residence can probably do that already. Mining my profile would further show that I know five people named Paul, I enjoy the films of Stanley Kubrick and that my favourite quotation is the sublime line from Alice Thomas Ellis: "Men love women; women love children; children love hamsters; hamsters don't love anybody."

I may be naive, but I fail to see how a marketer is going to construct a coherent profile out of that. And for that matter, if a marketer has something specifically targeted to Gen X Pisces who have a copy of Full Metal Jacket on DVD, I suppose I do not mind being told about it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:57 AM on November 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


am I the only person hoping for more tinfoil-hat in this question?

Yes.
posted by fixedgear at 8:09 AM on November 23, 2008


The whole "Ahhh the corporations are out to get meeee!" thing usually suggests to me a pessimistic view of the world... and also a kinda self-centered one. We give up personal information all the time- at the doctor's, to the government, when we have our info in a phone book, to schools- and somehow an internet corporation is different from all those others in that they're just waiting to share our favorite music and phone number with marketers who could probably get the information elsewhere anyway? The enjoyment I get out of facebook is greater than my worry over that possibility.
posted by MadamM at 8:16 AM on November 23, 2008


It's not like facebook gives your info to hitmen.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 8:20 AM on November 23, 2008


Creating a myspace and facebook page enable some old friends and classmates to find and that was nice.

Otherwise, I know all the corporations are out to get me, but have bigger things to worry about.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:38 AM on November 23, 2008


The answer to the question "should people on metafilter be more paranoid about $x?" is almost always no.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:46 AM on November 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah, for some a look at some implications of Facebook and the like, take a look at an AskMe question of mine and the MetaTalk followup. I think it was a good example of having an online identity linked to your actual name and others knowing who you are and being able to vouch for you. That was pretty awesome in my case, especially if you realize that I've never actually met another Mefite ('cept for talking to Nickyskye on the phone).

Privacy is nice in theory and I'm actually a pretty private person, but it's a damn good thing for people to be able to easily find, identify and know you. The internet is awesome because it expands that to the global level.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:51 AM on November 23, 2008


*SIGHS*

...for A look at some...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 AM on November 23, 2008


It's not like facebook gives your info to hitmen.

Although if you were a hitman, Facebook would actually be a pretty good place to start.
posted by baphomet at 8:55 AM on November 23, 2008


Baphomet, I just decline friend requests from hitmen. It hurts their feelings and they don't get to see my status updates to track my current location.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:02 AM on November 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'd like to be at a party with a female hitperson sometime so that I could be like "hey, I bet you're a real hit with the men" and find out once and for all whether they really don't have a sense of humor or if it's more like John Cusack and Dan Aykroyd in that one movie about the reunion industry in Michigan.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 AM on November 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ever since I disabled the 'sniper rifle cursor' application, everything's been hunky-dory.
posted by lukemeister at 9:09 AM on November 23, 2008


Baphomet, I just decline friend requests from hitmen.

That old high school friend who just dropped you a line out of the blue last week? The one you haven't talked to, much less thought about, in oh so many years?

Yeah. I'm not saying anything there, but...watch your back.
posted by baphomet at 9:11 AM on November 23, 2008


Besides, what the fuck would they find out about me that's of any concern to me whatsoever? That I like the Foo Fighters and Family Guy and went to UMass? Any info I really don't want anyone to have I don't put up on Facebook, I don't get the fear.

(And yes, I know The Man can trace my street address and IP and all that - but I can also thank Google - who I'd lay down on railroad tracks for - for that anyway.)
posted by tristeza at 9:12 AM on November 23, 2008


Some of us don't use it (or twitter) because we're not narcissists. Has nothing to do w/privacy.
posted by Zambrano at 9:27 AM on November 23, 2008


There are people on this site who will harass and have harassed others outside of Metafilter. As a victim of this, I would recommend folks remove as much personal info as possible.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:29 AM on November 23, 2008


I'm sorry to hear that, BP.
posted by lukemeister at 9:31 AM on November 23, 2008


That old high school friend who just dropped you a line out of the blue last week? The one you haven't talked to, much less thought about, in oh so many years?

Yeah. I'm not saying anything there, but...watch your back.


Hey, don't talk smack about my good friend Marty Blank.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:35 AM on November 23, 2008


Or, if you see a friend from school that you haven't talked to since grade school, and he's telling you that he doesn't know you, then he's probably warning you to move along so he won't have to kill you too.
posted by philomathoholic at 9:45 AM on November 23, 2008


Not on my radar.
posted by iguanapolitico at 9:50 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


And just because The Man can do something, that doesn't mean that The Man will.

Stop being so paranoid. You aren't as important as you think you are.

unless you're building bombs in your basement. in that case, stear clear of facebook.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 9:55 AM on November 23, 2008


Murdoch owns MySpace.

Murdoch has used every other property he owns to further his far, far right political agenda. If he can come up with ways of using information from MySpace for such purposes, he will.

To expect anything else makes Pollyanna look like the second coming of Machiavelli.
posted by jamjam at 10:17 AM on November 23, 2008


Murdoch:MySpace::Polyanna:Machiavelli
posted by fixedgear at 10:33 AM on November 23, 2008


Some of us don't use it (or twitter) because we're not narcissists. Has nothing to do w/privacy.

And some people don't use them because they're unfriendly.

I use them a lot. I think about privacy a lot. I don't think knowing who I am friends (peraonally and professionally) with compromises my personal integrity or safety any. Then again, I live in a small community where I have in some ways less privacy than I do on facebook and I think sometimes people have a hard time figuring out the difference between privacy, security, secrecy and all the other things we gain and lose when we render ourselves or more less accessible both via technology but also just in general as humans.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:34 AM on November 23, 2008


Avoiding a service because of what others might think of you is not a way to avoid narcissism.
posted by ardgedee at 10:43 AM on November 23, 2008


Telling everybody that you avoid it because unlike them you're not a narcissist is probably pretty convincing, though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:03 AM on November 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


I understand privacy concerns - certainly in this age of increased wiretapping and decreased habeas corpus - but I've always wondered why people are so horrified by the idea of marketers getting information about them. When I log onto amazon and it tells me news I would not otherwise know about a new book by an obscure author I once enjoyed, I am *happy.*
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:11 AM on November 23, 2008


Possible derail: I asked a question on AskMe yesterday, and someone I didn't know responded on Facebook. I didn't think that was possible.

*prepares for cyber-attack from unknown poster in Oz
posted by lukemeister at 11:21 AM on November 23, 2008


Is it reasonable to be concerned about third party applications on Facebook? From what I understand, those are the ones that are generally in danger of setting you up spam-wise, though my knowledge of these things is pretty limited.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:39 AM on November 23, 2008


Have you tried ego-surfing or Google street images? Man, there's plenty of shit out there with my name on it or my address. At least with Facebook I can control who looks at it. Plus I get to cyberstalk other people, conveniently.
posted by b33j at 11:43 AM on November 23, 2008


Some of us don't use it (or twitter) because we're not narcissists. Has nothing to do w/privacy.

And some of us use it because we want to keep in touch with our high school friends... because no one we know is in the phone book (since they only use cell phones)... because it's a convenient way to organize club business and invite people to shows and events... because it's great to have access to all the photos taken at a certain party rather than hunting the people with cameras down and getting copies.

But yeah yeah, get off my lawn, etc.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:30 PM on November 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I would think that the very fact one insists on broadcasting that one is not a narcissist would indicate facts to the contrary.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:42 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Myspace asks for zero info that could identify you in real life. I am a little baffled that people so willingly put their real names, addresses, and phone numbers into Facebook. Facebook thinks my last name is "Mercury."

As for Linkedin, it's just utterly useless no matter what you do.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:28 PM on November 23, 2008


I am a little baffled that people so willingly put their real names, addresses, and phone numbers into Facebook.

I didn't put my phone number or address in my Facebook profile, but my given name is not fixedgear, so I figured my Real Name might be a good idea. The point is for people to find me.

LinkedIn is meh, I've gotten a few requests for 'expertise' but the primary purpose is a place to post resume-ish info so if it pans out in a year or years the minutes I've spent setting up a profile are worth it.
posted by fixedgear at 1:53 PM on November 23, 2008


The real killer is when someone says "oh, I don't check my email anymore, just msg me on Facebook".
posted by smackfu at 1:53 PM on November 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


smackfu,

That's exactly why I joined Facebook, even though I'm older than the hills. My niece and nephew (18 and 21) said it was the best way to keep up with them, and it's true.
posted by lukemeister at 2:14 PM on November 23, 2008


I'm actually annoyed at the friends who won't join, forcing me to send them cute youtube videos individually, instead of just posting to my profile. The nerve. Can you imagine?
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:23 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


anyone who switched the lion's share of communication over to a propriatry system deserves what they have coming to them.
if you care to find out more, please MeFiMail me...
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 2:59 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am a little baffled that people so willingly put their real names, addresses, and phone numbers into Facebook the white pages.

Seriously, there are lots and lots of people without unlisted phone numbers (including me), and there's no public outcry of OMG PRIVACY!!!11!! It's really super easy to find me if you know my name. If you don't know my name, why would you want to find me?
posted by desjardins at 3:04 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


anyone who switched the lion's share of communication over to a propriatry system deserves what they have coming to them.

Well, if facebook, gmail and my mobile phone providers all go belly-up, I am very much fucked. You could put a gun to my head and I wouldn't be able to tell you any phone numbers or addresses of my friends or family.

My lion's share of communication happens between three different countries so unless I want to hear from people every three weeks assuming the letters don't get lost in the post (I know quite a few letters to me have), I'm just going to have to put my faith in these online propriatry systems. Been working ok for the last 7 years.

To be fair, I see what you're saying but these paranoia inducing, security compromising, hitman death traps are the one thing keeping me in touch with a lot of people that I happen to like staying in touch with. This will be severly compromised come the inevitable zombie apocalypse, but so would regular mail or any other form of communication. Hell, facebook would probably be the one thing that all my friends would still be updating before the lights go out and their brains get eaten...
posted by slimepuppy at 3:38 PM on November 23, 2008


As for Linkedin, it's just utterly useless no matter what you do.

Not true! It can be very, very useful in finding a smoking gun connection for self-linkers. All hail Linkedin!
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:10 PM on November 23, 2008


Thank you for your concern. I am the original poster (in case the flagging doesn't work in the grey) and I have both created a more specific profile and turned my privacy settings up. I am just flattered to incur a MetaTalk thread that isn't mainly about how stupid I am. ;)
posted by bad grammar at 5:34 PM on November 23, 2008


Some of us don't use it (or twitter) because we're not narcissists.

You wouldn't feel the need to announce that if you weren't a (really big) narcissist. No, don't thank me; I'm happy to psychoanalyze you for free.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:08 PM on November 23, 2008


If you don't know my name, why would you want to find me?

The aliens encoded information about the Stargate into your DNA structure.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:10 PM on November 23, 2008


Yeah, great, let's all not use Facebook. Where the hell am I gonna put my erotic vampire poetry and pictures of cats now? Your place? Is that what you actually want me to do, come to your place and just staple stuff to your walls? Is that what you are literally asking for? Because that's what's going to happen!
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:30 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually, it sounds like you may be interested in livejournal.
posted by jacalata at 7:44 PM on November 23, 2008


Livejournal is for people who wear wallet chains and have big teeth.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:46 PM on November 23, 2008


I'm totally writing about this on LiveJournal.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:24 PM on November 23, 2008


I avoid things like Facebook because I'm worried that "[name] has no friends" is not just because I haven't added anyone to my network.
posted by dg at 1:20 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


*favorites this just for the fnord*
posted by dabitch at 2:52 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am a little baffled that people so willingly put their real names, addresses, and phone numbers into Facebook.

But why?!? Why do you percieve that as any more risky than having your name, address and telephone number in the telephone book? What makes you think the preponderance of potential peril is any greater in the microcosim than it is in the macrocosim?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:57 AM on November 24, 2008


There is no I in macrocosm.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:17 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just found out last night that facebook has a "phone book" feature where all the people I'm linked to who have 1. linked to me and 2. given facebook their phone number are now in some online phonebook. Huh. I always distinguish between online friends and "friends I would still have in an extended power failure" (i.e. people whose house I could stop by at, people who I know how to contact without any electronic hints) Not that those two categories are mutually exclusive, but I think it's important to know that the distinction exists. I'm always angling for a big conversation rate between category #1 and category #2 though and this may make me different from many people with large online posses.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:43 AM on November 24, 2008


Never put potentially harmful information on Facebook. Never ever ever ever ever ever ever.

Don't let your friends put drunken party pictures of you on Facebook. Ask them not to; they're your friends, they'll understand.

My rule is this - don't tell Facebook anything you wouldn't tell a random person at a party. Anyone who sees my profile knows what I do for a living and who my friends are. They also know that I like Tolstoy, Sam Cooke, and Arrested Development. Nothing secret there.

Oh yeah, and they can also see me dressed as Sam Spade for Halloween. Which is fine. That was a bitchin' costume.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:12 AM on November 24, 2008


How come so many people can see your profile that you're worried about it?
posted by smackfu at 11:16 AM on November 24, 2008


The problem with facebook is that your idiot friends can post photos of you doing god knows what and link them to your profile. My wife seems to spend a healthy amount of time on Facebook un-tagging herself in photos. I'm sure there are stupid pictures of me on Facebook too, but they exist in more of a vacuum then those of people with profiles.

Also, people you don't want to talk to will find your ass. My wife also spends a healthy amount of time ignoring friend requests and the like.

Still, Facebook seems pretty handy. Now I just boycott it because I have been for so long, not for any particularly good reason.
posted by chunking express at 12:45 PM on November 24, 2008


My wife also spends a healthy amount of time ignoring friend requests and the like.

Yeah, it takes hours to ignore a friend request.
posted by fixedgear at 3:27 PM on November 24, 2008


Burhanistan : I would think that the very fact one insists on broadcasting that one is not a narcissist would indicate facts to the contrary.

I honestly don't think I'm a narcissist, but I'm pretty sure that guy in the mirror that looks a bit like me might be. Every time I see him staring at me I hear this music swell up and I realize that he has the expression of someone who has just seen the most beautiful, perfect creature in all of creation.

It's kind of creepy, actually. If you ask me, that guy is a fuckin' weirdo.
posted by quin at 3:36 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it takes hours to ignore a friend request.

If you do it properly, not only do they not get your friendship, but they lose all their other friends.
posted by lukemeister at 6:31 PM on November 24, 2008


Some of us don't use it...because we're not narcissists.
posted by Zambrano


This is literally the funniest comment I have ever read on Metafilter.

War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

And Zambrano is Not a Narcissist.
posted by peggynature at 1:54 PM on November 28, 2008


peggynature: he's just a down-to-earth polyamorous gourmand who graces us with enlightened remarks so the rest of us "PC" slobs might get a whiff of greatness.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:26 PM on November 28, 2008


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