Facebook's privacy fixes can't cure stupid

Facebook deserves blame for messing with its privacy settings, but people will still embarrass themselves on the Internet

Facebook deserves plenty of blame for messing too much with its privacy settings, but no amount of fixing will stop people from embarrassing themselves on the Internet.

An interesting thing happened in the time since Facebook's privacy fiasco began: The debate moved away from the most recent changes to Facebook's privacy -- allowing select Web sites to automatically tell your Facebook friends what you've been doing on those sites -- and now focuses on changes that are almost six months old.

Suddenly, it seems, users are upset that Facebook wants status updates and friends lists shared with the world. By default, new Facebook users' profiles are set to "everyone," making life on the Internet an open book.

Enter, well, Openbook, the site that exposes just how much people expose on Facebook. PCWorld has covered this site before, making note of the too-much-information that (I hope) users think was kept private. NPR played a different trick, looking for status updates that reference new cell phone numbers and then calling the people who inadvertently broadcast their digits. Openbook supposedly shines a light on the effect of Facebook's privacy changes, but all it really does is show how people can't filter themselves.

There's no doubt that Facebook exacerbated the problem by pushing people towards public sharing of information, but it's a problem that existed long before December 9, when Facebook introduced sweeping changes to its privacy controls. A site called Lamebook, which tracks stupidity and hilarity on Facebook, started in 2008. Humorous lists of Facebook fails predate the changes from six months ago. Even if people keep information within their social circle, they can still make fools of themselves -- and to people that matter in real life, no less.

Later today, Facebook will introduce some privacy changes, giving people an easier way to control what information in their profiles is visible to the rest of the world. The changes may not address complaints about having to opt out of future privacy changes, and they may not provide the level of depth that the people most up in arms about privacy really want. But one thing the changes definitely will not do is make people smarter about what they publish on the Web.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags internet privacyFacebookprivacy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?