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Apr 21

FaceBook changes – Privacy issues and Fanpages

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There’s a lot of vitriol and angst flying around the blogosphere and social networking sites lately over FaceBook’s recent changes.  Lets have a look at the two major changes:

Community Pages – there goes your privacy

Have a read of this first: FaceBook Further Reduces Control Over Personal Information

In theory, Community pages sound good.  Most people want to connect to people with similar interests, right?  Well, no, not necessarily.

You see, FaceBook hasn’t actually set up the privacy settings too well.  You have to actively opt-out of being connected to each individual page – and those privacy settings don’t appear to be there yet.

And all your information on your profile?  That’s automatically linked.  What if you’re a teacher who has her privacy settings set to “Just Friends” and you’re interested in horses.  Suddenly all your students who are also interested in horses can see you on the community page.

Apparently it’s legal in the US to be fired from a job because of your political affiliation – and because it’s in your profile you’re automatically connected to that Community page.

Cyber Stalkers rejoice!

That person you’ve been stalking and know all those juicy details about?  They blocked you on FaceBook but guess what?  They’re now showing up on the same Community pages as you.

That violent ex-partner you took out the DVO on?  He can see you on the Community pages now too.  And when you posted in your status update that you were going to be somewhere at a particular event?  He saw that too.

Are you scared yet?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been really scared about my online privacy.  I have my photo all over the net, I’ve got pictures of my kiddo, my pets, my interests up on my FaceBook page – and my privacy settings are set to ‘Friends Only’.  Now, that setting will mean nothing.  Instead of having control over who sees my status updates and photo’s anyone on the same Community page as me will potentially be able to see it.

That scares me – to the point I’ve sanitised (read, erased) most details on my profile.  I’m waiting out to see about the photo’s.  If these Community Pages take off like they’re forecast too then I may well leave FaceBook or change all my details to nonsense words.

Fanpages

Ah FaceBook, you’re such a supporter of businesses…  First you changed us from ‘Groups’ and said “Hey, you’re a business!  Come and build a business Fanpage and grow your business!”

And so we went, and we all created our FaceBook Fanpage platforms, and put blood and sweat and tears into gaining Fans.  They like us!  They want to be connected with us!

And now they’ve been changed to ‘Like’.  There is no such thing as ‘Fans’ now.  Instead of Fanning a page, you now have the choice to ‘Like’ the page.

While I agree this may be a good thing to get rid of the pages such called “He said, She said, They both said…” and “If I get 1000 fans I’ll call my baby Megatron” for those of us with genuine businesses it’s a slap in the face.

If you would prefer to have ‘Fans’ instead of ‘Likers’ then you join the group “Give Us Back Our Fans” Does anyone see the irony in being able to be a Member of a group but not of a business fan page?  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Admins?  Do we still own our pages?

Admins seem to have lost some functionality and control in the change.  Whether these are glitches or permanent ‘features’ (can it be a feature if it’s a loss of functionality?) is something we’re going to have to wait and see about.

So far I’ve heard of stories where the Page Admin:

-          Can’t see any ‘Likers’ – previously called Fans, (update: this appears to be a bug and is being worked on by Facebook)

-          All page settings had vanished and the page was being spammed, despite being only able to be written on by Admins

-          Pages not viewable

-          You’re now unable to make someone an Admin on a Fan page unless they are already a Friend on your personal FB page

-          Unable to set up Fan Pages

-          Fanpage widgets on websites no longer linking to the FaceBook page

-          Updates to Likers not being sent

-          Updates to Fanpages not working

The Jury is out

I suspect that at this point all we can do is wait and see what happens when the dust settles.  FaceBook have shown previously that they may back down under user pressure.  But who is going to exert the most pressure: The users of FaceBook or the advertisers who benefit most from Community pages?

What do you all think of these changes?  Come and voice your opinion in the comments.

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3 comments

  1. Marc

    I’ve been on the Internet for over a decade, I’ve seen it all, but one thing remains true: there is no such thing as privacy on the web. If you put it up there, someone will find it. Human errors, malicious users, and constantly changing terms of service are all factors affecting the stuff we’re all uploading to a bunch of computers we have no direct control over.

    It never ceases to amaze me the amount of information some of my friends put out on Facebook – particularly photos of their children. The kind of information they don’t want strangers to see. Maybe it’s time for people to start treating websites as strangers as well.

    The bottom line is: we are responsible for our own privacy. We need to take additional measures to protect our personal information. If we don’t want others to see it, then don’t upload it to the Internet.
    .-= Marc´s last blog ..How to Add the Amazon Showcase Plugin to Your Blog =-.

  2. Barbara Swafford

    Hi Melinda,

    I agree with Marc. There is SO much information not only on Facebook, but even on blogs that could be detrimental. One thing that alarms me is when people put their birth date on Facebook. (I’m assuming they are using their actual birth date). Realizing that’s one piece of the information needed for someone to steal our identity, when I see friends of mine sharing that kind of information, I send then an email and suggest they remove it.

    Online, we really can’t be too cautious with what we share.
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..Comments -Why Some Aren’t Worth Reading =-.

  3. Christine Holroyd

    Hi Melinda. I clicked on your link at WAHM Network. I’m on a huge learning curve tonight after reading the FB info. Thanks for sharing. You do have some good points here BUT I’m afraid I agree with Marc, too.

    I only put ‘unrecognisable’ pics of my daughter on the Internet and not many of them . I’m a fairly open person, but do vet the things I write for the most part. Sometimes the only ‘conversation’ I can have with my friends without little ears hearing are through emails and I have tended to let it all hang out with them, to a point. Oops! This is a reminder to curb that practice.

    Barbara thanks for the info about birth dates. I’m very free with that one because I’ve always believed people are too anal when it comes to expressing their age and I don’t want to be that way, however you put a whole new slant on sharing that one. I am pretty new to the IT world, so thanks.
    .-= Christine Holroyd´s last blog ..Motherhood/Fatherhood & Violent Movies =-.

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