Do People who use Facebook have a legitimate claim to privacy when they are posting information about themselves?
With the advent of Facebook and social media, the question of maintaining one’s privacy has become much more complicated. Numerous times since its inception, Facebook has attempted to find a way to distribute the user information to advertisement companies for profit, from trying to claim ownership of any data imputed into the site, to introducing systems which forwarded users’ activity logs to companies without asking for consent at all (Laudon & Laudon 2016)
Each new scheme has been met with a quick public and legislative response, forcing Facebook to limit what information they could use and how. As a result, in 2009, a policy was passed, which stated that if people are posting information on the site, they still have the final say on how the information can be used. To facilitate this, Facebook is required to inform them of these rights, as well as provide them with tools to control access to their information.
But the settings consisted of more than 170 privacy options, which few users had the patience for. This complexity issue was resolved in 2011 when it was demanded from Facebook that the users’ privacy options had to be presented concisely and comprehensively and that a third party agency must audit the site for privacy concerns. This means that, provided they use the tools provided, people have a strong claim to privacy while using Facebook. (Facebook Settles FTC Charges That It Deceived Consumers By Failing To Keep Privacy Promises 2011, para.13-20).
How will changing your Connection settings on Facebook help protect your privacy?
Before users can hope to preserve their privacy properly, they need to know what mechanisms they have at their disposal.
Kaspersky Lab, an international security software group, has provided the “Facebook Privacy Settings Advice Video”, to educate users quickly and precisely how they can decrease their digital trace on Facebook (Facebook Privacy Settings Advice Video 2014). For example, they provide a lot of instructions on how to regulate personal page’s privacy settings. By controlling these settings, a user can limit how outside companies can interact with the user, what kind of data the user projects into the web, and who has access to that information, if anyone. One of the particular Facebook features that can affect a user’s privacy are the connections.
By “liking” an activity or a piece of media, the user adds this item to his list of connections. The user can decide if he wants to hide his preferences from other users and, potentially, advertisement companies, increasing his privacy levels. However, one should remember that while the connections will not be seen on the user page, the name of the user will be recorded on the “liked” page, as one of the fans. Unfortunately, in this case, the only thing the user can do, if he doesn’t want his name seen attached to a connection, is to “unlike” it.
How can you prevent your Timeline from being Indexed by Google or other search engines?
It is important to remember that, by default, the user’s Facebook page is indexed by most search engines. If the user doesn’t want to be able to be found through Google or other engines, they can turn the function off in the “Privacy Settings and Tools” section of the Facebook settings. This allows the user to hide his social media activities from any internet users who are not registered with Facebook, or who are deterred by the user’s settings from finding them through the site. This can be achieved by limiting who can add the user as a “friend”.
As of 31st of December, 2015, most of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising, and clocks in at around 18 billion dollars. While this may seem like a large sum, research shows that Facebook still functions at a fraction of its money earning potential, and that is saying a lot. Since the average user of the social site is 22 years old student, the site has a smaller click-on-ad ration per millions of pages viewed then some of the other internet resources. This is still an improvement from the early years of the site when it barely had 400 ad clicks per million pages. That situation was amended thanks to contextual advertising, and now, even not at its full advertising potential, the site’s revenue growth is better than Apple Inc.’s, Twitter Inc.’s and Google’s. Facebook knows where its profits lie.
The situation with Facebook and advertisement is, as we now know, a two-sided coin. The information-selling practices that are widely despised by cautious users have allowed the company to become the advertising behemoth it is nowadays, with growth that shows no signs of stopping. While privacy issues are very important, it is necessary to understand that a lot of this revenue is the result of Facebook users clicking the ads of their own accord, because the contextual ads are relevant to them and their interests. This means that the users benefit as well. The main problem Facebook has at the moment is the lack of transparency, which is the main demand of the users and regulative businesses.
Ultimately, Facebook’s advertising policies can be beneficial to both the business and the users, and when the site was legally obligated to provide users with all the tools and information to secure their privacy, its profits not only did not drop but continued to rise. The best and most financially beneficial policy for the site at the moment is to maintain transparency.
Facebook Privacy Settings Advice Video 2014. Web.
Facebook Settles FTC Charges That It Deceived Consumers By Failing To Keep Privacy Promises. 2011. Web.
Laudon K & Laudon J 2016, Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm, Pearson, London.