In their hunt for market dominance, social networks Facebook, Google Buzz, and Microsoft Live are redefining what social means — and in the process, straining the bounds of personal privacy.
Facebook, the big daddy of these three, has made quiet changes to its privacy settings, ones that members need to understand if they are going to manage the distribution of their personal information.
I find Facebook useful, mostly as a way to stay in touch with a select set of my friends and former co-workers. It’s not my public soapbox nor a window into my personal life, left open to the world — for that, I have blogs and Twitter.
As much as I like Facebook, it has a flaw that I’ll never see in my blogs and hopefully never see with Twitter. It seems the proprietors of Facebook find it necessary, desirable, or profitable to change member privacy settings, usually with little notice to members. In every case I can think of, privacy settings have become more relaxed — more open, if you will.
What’s beneficial for Facebook, however, is not necessarily good for members — their personal information might end up in places they never intended. The world is filled with marketers who would love to know increasingly more about you. And if that doesn’t concern you, the world also contains stalkers and hackers who might use that personal information toward evil ends.
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