May 12, 2008

Facebook's safety oxymoron: Facebook Connect

Anonymity Facebook is appealing to the education community with its raft of proposed measures against morally ill-fitting content for its teenage audiences, but is simultaneously introducing Facebook Connect, a background service that will propagate your social networking identity far across the web, as you surf it.

With so few social network users understanding how to personalise the privacy of their profile, this seems a digital breadcrumb nightmare for unsuspecting teens leaving their digital trace all over the place.

Trusted authentification sounds great, but is only as good as the user's knowledge of the security and privacy of the third-party site in question. The same issues that arose around the security of third-party applications - could they be replicated here?

Real identity, rather than pseudonyms, certainly helps Facebook follow up on misuses of the site, as per the reasoning given in their new ramping up of safety, but regularly changing pseudonyms have helped to some degree in making youngsters less searchable, and less connectable with their real-life locations.

Friends access will help propagate even more return traffic to the Facebook site, and more conversations between users based on the shared interest they had in site x, y or z, but it also means that, without my wanting to, friends and family can see where I've been. This is what Beacon was slammed for - is it not sneaking in here, too?

I'm not sure about any of this - portability sounds great, as long as you're in control of it. However, if this is introduced as an opt-out then most Facebook users won't find the privacy changing settings to do that. Facebook need to make their privacy control not only easier to use, but they need to help users learn the consequences of keeping certain elements private, and moving others into the public sphere.

Pic: Anonymity

Comments

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I use FB but I am deeply concerend with each and every day that passes that it makes my life an ever more open book. The Gung Ho 'anything goes' approach of many app developers and - frankly - the lack of quality control from FB re. the standard of many apps - really makes me worry about the site. I have many examples where I have felt embarassed or worried about one app or another and on the whole I feel FB is a BIG accident waiting to happen. Yet I still use it - lol.

Interested to see if because of the non-geetar interface, this game has the same appeal as its older siblings.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services.

His company, NoTosh Limited, invests in tech startups and film on behalf of public and private investors, works with those companies to build their creative businesses, and takes the lessons learnt from the way these people work back into schools and universities across the world.

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