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Facebook Privacy Notice and Building a Dream Social Media Site

A friend sent me the text from a status update that is making its way around Facebook which is being referred to as the Facebook Privacy Notice:

PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning – any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other “picture” art posted on my profile.

You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee , agent , student or any personnel under your direction or control.

The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE

Snopes, of course, debunked this immediately.  You can’t post something on your Facebook status that negates the TOS of the site and have it be legally binding any more than you can change the wording in a paper contract, sign it, and have your wording supersede the contract’s wording without agreement for your wording from the contract’s creator.  When you sign up for a Facebook account, you accept their terms of service, and nothing you can do (beyond bringing a lawsuit against Facebook) can alter that contract.  Joining Facebook, in and of itself, means giving up a bit of your privacy.  And Mark Zuckerberg isn’t allowing you to change the contract to fit your needs.

I’m not surprised that a status update has made the rounds on Facebook; but what I am surprised at is that no one is saying, “this is what we want, so let’s create it.”  People obviously don’t trust Facebook if they’re posting this since it stems from a belief that there were untold privacy changes now that Facebook is a publicly-traded company.  The notice also contains:

Facebook is now a publicly traded entity.

Unless you state otherwise, anyone can infringe on your right to privacy once you post to this site. It is recommended that you and other members post a similar notice as this, or you may copy and paste this version.

If you do not post such a statement once, then you are indirectly allowing public use of items such as your photos and the information contained in your status updates.

Privacy is obviously an important point for so many people, ranging from social media to the airports and TSA.  And yet we also utilize these sites that compromise our privacy in a way that actually compromises our privacy.  Meaning, if you don’t post something you want private on Facebook, you don’t have your privacy violated.  But people do post things they’d like to have remain private on Facebook, which is this very possibly public forum.

Why isn’t someone stepping up and creating the dream site?  Do we actually care about privacy or do we just like to grumble? (I’ll admit, I like to grumble.)  How do we keep a social media social while putting a lot of restrictions in place, since we all know that private blogs are not as social as public blogs; don’t receive the same traffic, the same amount of comments.  And how does one keep a site running and being a financially feasible entity without invading people’s privacy in the form of tracking for advertising or creating assets?

But moreover, what sort of TOS would that dream site have to have for you to leave Facebook and Twitter behind in order to join your friends in this new space?  Would you be willing to give up your Facebook and Twitter accounts if someone created this fantasy TOS space, or would you continue to hold onto your old social media accounts, cross-posting the same material on all sites?  That, to me, is the most interesting discussion of all.

11 comments

1 loribeth { 06.05.12 at 9:43 am }

Lots of interesting questions & food for thought here. I’ve already seen this “privacy notice” twice this morning on FB — and a followup comment on one referencing Snopes, so hopefully the word is getting out there.

The fantasy site sounds wonderful in theory, but as you questioned, I’m wondering how economically feasible it would be?

For me, there are only so many sites I can juggle/regularly monitor & participate on, Facebook being one of them. The thing about FB is it has a certain critical mass to it — the fact that so many of my family & friends were on it already (& the curiosity about what I was missing out on, lol) was what got me to eventually sign up as well. When Google+ first came out, a few of my friends went there (& invited me to join). I know at least a couple who did so after deactivating their FB accounts. I didn’t think I could handle yet another social media site & so I didn’t follow them over. I’m not sure how many people I know are there (& active), but I notice at least one of ones who deactivated their FB account to go over to Google+ is back on Facebook again.

If enough people were enthralled with your fantasy site & went over there (as many people did from MySpace to Facebook, or so I hear), then I would probably go there too. Not sure about juggling multiple sites. There are only so many hours in the day.

2 Queenie { 06.05.12 at 11:00 am }

Facebook privacy (or lack thereof) hasn’t changed because it’s a publicly traded company. They’ve been messing with the settings and had access to your content forever. They are also, incidentally, completely hackable, so that anything you think is “private” is really not so private even if you meant for it to be. I struggle with wanting to keep in touch via the convenience of social media, and wanting to protect my family and keep them safe.

I would definitely use a dream site, if it existed–one with actual privacy and security. Alas, I don’t see that ever happening.

3 loribeth { 06.05.12 at 11:13 am }

While I agree with Queenie that nothing on FB is truly private — there are such things as privacy settings on FB, which help you control (to some extent) who gets to see what. I’m constantly amazed by how many people leave everything out there in public for all & sundry to see. There are lots of people I know that I’m not FB “friends” with — some of dh’s cousins’ kids, for example — but I click over now & then and there are all their wild party pictures for the world (& potential employers) to see. Yikes!

4 a { 06.05.12 at 11:54 am }

Someone with whom I am only acquainted online posted that, and it was just after your discussion about the TOS. So I, because it’s the way I am, informed him that it was essentially meaningless due to the TOS to which he had already agreed. Then he spouted some nonsense about the UCC superseding Facebook’s TOS, and I’m sure I argued with him some more.

I’m not that worried about privacy settings, although I have blocked some people. I don’t know if they know they’re blocked. I don’t share too many photos with people in them anyway. I don’t do many status updates. If you want to know what articles I find interesting, you could probably get a sense from things I share. But I’d probably tell you the same thing in person anyway.

So, I don’t really have a fantasy site. I don’t really put things on social media that I feel like I need to lay claim to.

5 Corey Feldman { 06.05.12 at 12:18 pm }

Interesting question, but I think privacy is an illusion on the internet and in real life. We are caught on camera countless times a day. The phone companies and Apple or Google know were we are at all times. What we need to is pass laws on what the Federal government and employers can do with that information.

6 Krista { 06.05.12 at 1:47 pm }

Hi Lollipop! It is really great to know that I am not alone in my quest for perfection. I am working with this site: http://www.sgrouples.com and the central theme is privacy by design. We want a space we can trust. Where we aren’t being tracked and watched and quantified. I am really excited to be part of sgrouples and have the opportunity to help make it the social network we are all dreaming of. We would love your feedback on the site! So happy to find your blog through the blogher network as well. All the best, K

7 Pamala { 06.05.12 at 2:02 pm }

Is it bad that I don’t care? I find nothing wrong with Facebook’s current privacy policy. But I do have a blog, and post in detail about my life. So I guess since I’m not all that private I don’t see an issue with Facebook having any of my info. It’s not like I don’t put it out there myself.

8 Erica { 06.05.12 at 2:25 pm }

Well, we’re the product, as the researchers in my Communication department would say. We (our personal information, preferences and interests, and the ability to share that information with advertisers), are what makes Facebook profitable. I’m not sure how we could model a social media site that would be free to users AND somehow make enough money to make maintenance and innovation (and some level of customer service and help?) possible if we were to remove ourselves and our information from what is being sold. I like to think it is possible, but I can’t think (right now) of how that would work.

But if privacy really is important to people, maybe members to a dream site could pay an annual subscription. It would be a good experiment, at least – do we want privacy enough to pay for it?

9 Battynurse { 06.06.12 at 2:24 am }

Funny when I saw a couple of these posts on FB I thought about your recent posts about the TOS. Thanks for the education.

10 Tigger { 06.06.12 at 11:25 am }

I firmly believe that there is no such thing as privacy on the internet anywhere – not true privacy. Yes, we all give ourselves the illusion by using screennames and pen names. We give our children code names. We create false email addresses with nothing personal in them, so far as we know. But everything is hackable, everything is traceable. There’s a reason why it’s said that once something is “out there”, it’s out there forever. Even if you delete it, it’s still there SOMEWHERE and if someone looks hard enough they will find it.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t continue to give ourselves that illusion. I am also a firm believer in making it as hard as possible for people to find the information they may be looking for. Want to track me? You might have to work at it a bit. Some people just aren’t willing to do more than a surface glance, and that’s fine with me!

11 Ginnegaap { 06.06.12 at 10:55 pm }

Mel, while that FB privacy message is not legit as you mentioned, there is a FB site governance vote on privacy that is happening now.
If more than 30% of users vote to keep the current privacy policy (vote “Existing Documents,”) then FB has to abide by that. It’s a long shot, because only about 214,000 FB users have voted as of tonight. Voting takes 2 seconds and ends June 8 at 9 am PDT. All you need to do is be logged into your FB account and go to the following link to make yourself heard:

https://www.facebook.com/​fbsitegovernance/​app_130362963766777

If you need more background and step-by-step instructions, read this blog post: https://www.abine.com/​blog/2012/​you-decide-facebooks-privac​y-policy-heres-how-to-vote​/

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