As wonderful as it was when it first started out, sometimes Facebook proves to be the bane of our existence. For many, it’s a necessity for the way it keeps us connected with friends, family, acquaintances, and business as well. Yet the privacy issue is always hanging in the balance, and every time Facebook gets updated, it seems to irritate its users even more.
Facebook announced the newest changes to the format on Thursday, changes aimed to make the news feed more of a “personalized newspaper.” It’s bound to irritate many. Some users really never seemed to get over being forced into the Timeline design. What makes this update interesting, though, is that it is coming on the heels of a study determining that while we think we have more privacy than ever on Facebook, we’re really divulging our private information with who the researchers call “silent listeners.”
Every time you post a picture to Facebook, your thought is only that you want your Facebook friends to share the fun with you. You’re happy that there are privacy controls to keep unwanted stalkers’ eyes off your pictures. But the “silent listeners” are listening and looking at everything you post, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University. Those listeners would be Facebook itself and third-party app developers and advertisers.
What complicates this even more is that users are lulled into thinking that they are keeping things private by turning on all the privacy features that Facebook offers, and in the process, the study explains users are sharing more info than ever because of that. They’re blindly sharing all their comments, thoughts, funny quotes, videos, and pictures, believing it’s safe.
Additionally, not everyone is as technologically aware of how this all works. When the new timeline view was offered, it gave users so many more choices and options for how to set up their page increasing the confusion level. They’re likely in that case to bend to public opinion on how private it really is.
There is a lot of misinformation out there on the Internet. Recently Instagram changes caused an uproar when the policy was ambiguously worded to appear as if they could access your pictures and share them with whoever they wanted. It caused people to go into a panic. In reality, reading the Instagram police closely, it wasn’t saying that at all. Instagram was forced to issue a statement explaining that was not their intention at all, yet some still believe the misinformation.
What’s the solution to this? For most, getting rid of the social networking isn’t the answer. It’s too integrated into our daily lives at the moment. The only answer is awareness. When Facebook gets updated, read through the update yourself and find out exactly what changes are being made to your security and privacy. Utilize and follow all the privacy controls. And know that whatever you are posting, the “silent listeners” are out there. They don’t care too much about where you went last night, but they’re still out there.