What does Facebook do with all your data?

So you log onto Facebook, like a few pictures, send a comment (or two) to some friends then log off. What does Facebook do with this content? Is it safe?

Facebook predicts your personal, private traits

Facebook has recently been going through some data by:

  • Finding out the personality types of users
  • Identifying your religious beliefs (e.g. Christianity vs Islam)
  • Predicting what your gender is
  • Developing an understanding of what intelligent might be
  • Identifying if you are happy with life
  • Finding out your sexual orientation (i.e. whether you are gay, bisexual or straight)

Facebook, therefore, is starting to illustrate the power of having all this free data. Whenever you sign up to Facebook you must accept the terms and conditions to use the service. By doing so you are allowing Facebook to analyse a lot of information about who you are, what you believe in, as well as, some of your most personal traits.

On the flip side

If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to worry about

But what if they sell all this data to third parties? What if they start predicting what you want in twenty years’ time? Is this a complete invasion of privacy?

If you use Facebook you should be aware of this use/misuse. This post is not an attempt to ‘freak you out’, it points out some privacy issues.

This post is an expansion, probably of many, of reasons why I don’t have Facebook.

How technology develops

Have you ever used a really good product and a few months later you see other people using it? Have you ever found it difficult to find a product in a store, and after a year, or so, it is sold in most stores? This is technology evolution.

Maps: the latest evolution

Google became the most dominant developer for maps. Their search facilities are now available in multiple formats (webpages, images, maps…).

Not so long ago Apple released their version of maps. Unfortunately, the content was not that well ironed out. Many users reported problems of missing streets and buildings, for example. It would be fair to say that their official launch was like a prototype — real users needed to use if, for real, then report problems with it. But why didn’t Apple release this product to a selective bunch of users to alert them of these problems before it affected millions and millions of people? Sometimes businesses don’t step back and look at the whole system. A mix of reductionism and holism, two types of information system design techniques to obtain successful projects, could have been applied here.

And now Nokia is launching Here Maps to continue the evolution of technology maps.

What way does technology move?

In short, one company moves first. If they are well run they will lead for a while (have patents to protect their innovation etc) then other companies follow with their version of that product. Technology moves in the same direction. Is this why products look similar?

Reasons why I don’t have Facebook

Facebook has over 900 million users [1] – I am not one of them! This is why:

Facebook: not the only method

I hear so many people asking one another to poke me, Facebook me and I have to say that I do not have a Facebook account. Sometimes I get a really shocked face, other times I get a really positive reaction, for example, some say that I must not be easily influenced by other people and things.

My traditional methods of communication help me stay in touch with my brilliant family, and close friends. I text, I email and I call people; although I am a texter at heart.

Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected [2]

I am a student (at University) of ICT – I embrace openness, connectivity, sharibility, freedom etc. But I do not believe in sharing my personal life with a company, namely Facebook. Did you know that your information, your life, your wall is being used for personalised marketing? I haven’t actually saw a Facebook wall, I haven’t even asked a relative (or friend) to log in, so I could see, in detail what these walls look like. I don’t intend to either.

Your life = Facebook gain

Facebook probably know when everybody gets paid, they can (probably) predict what you are going to do next summer. Did you ever go on a holiday and say you’d go back? Did you post that on Facebook? If so, they know you! They know just as much about you as your friends, and they don’t even know you!

Advertising is a massive industry. It is used everywhere, we even use it – our CV’s (or resume) is our own marketing tool for employers. Facebook abuse this power, claiming that it’s them being open. Now that’s one accurate mission statement!

Facebook’s power of knowledge

Facebook is now getting really clever, they are starting to use their content to predict and produce advertisments to all their users. Your free page is worth millions to Facebook – that’s why it’s given to you free of charge! They know that user’s will generate content, specific and personal content, they’ll index it, use it and produce it for financial means.

Anti-Facebook, not totally

I am, of course, a human being. So I know how important it is to share your life with those who are really close to you. I know that Facebook is a method of communication, for some, it is the only main method of communication. But all I am trying to get across to you, is to be careful as you embrace and use technology, it has its downfalls. The only piece of advice I can give a Facebooker is to look at your own privacy settings. Search yourself, use Google (another organisation I may let of some steam about on here, in the near future) to search your name, can you see from Google what you have been up to? If you can, so can everyone else on the web – including employers! Yes, your own marketing tool (your CV) can back fire!

In my life I have nothing to hide. So I definitely do not get my anti-Facebooknism to hide an element of who or what I am, but I do have some problems with where, who and what information is used for:

  • pay day – when do you go on a spending spree? Ah, every fourth Wednesday! Quick get X some Y adverts in two weeks time, they’ll buy this if we show them it enough. Better still give them these advertisements at 6pm, they log-in lots of times during this time of day
  • geographic location – did you know that X spends a lot of time writing about Y pub? They post and tag pictures of Z all the time. That’s great, we can pass these details on to see if that celebrity is really there in the photos, or better still, we need to turn our openness into criminal touts – we’ll pass your information onto third parties
  • hacking – with all this content, why don’t X hack Facebook to gain access to all this valuable information? Oh wait, I don’t want Faceleaks – what if my information gets into criminal hands, the wrong hands to prove that Facebook are not for connection and openness? Too late, I’m a regular user, I don’t think of these things! Look at J Assange and Wikileaks – he got (with help) lots of important, authoritive government data! Perhaps to ensure the world knew that he actually got the data.

I think you now know that I will not be signing up to Facebook anytime soon?! Share safe online, be safe online by knowing what you have to do as the user of technology – it is a big, big scary world, at times, but it’s often a fantastic world.

References

  1. http://newsroom.fb.com/content/default.aspx?NewsAreaId=22
  2. http://www.facebook.com/facebook/info

(35) Financial strain or genuine reorganisation?

Time for Google to reorganise, or has the economy hit their smaller services?

I was reading an article from BBC News online, it outlines (really well) what Google are going to close. When reading it, I was thinking “is this also a financial factor?” For example, does this highlight that Google cannot afford to spend time on smaller products/services for users? Or is it that they now know where there powers of the web really lie?

Post 35, over and out

Facebook or OpenBook?

Post 31

Just how private are you on Facebook?

Today so many people have Facebook, from businesses who have group pages to ‘ordinary’ people who use it to connect with friends and family members. But when I was glancing over a recent BBC News article about Facebook altering privacy changes, I was thinking just how private is Facebook?

Who owns your pictures? Facebook, or you?

As far as I know whenever you upload pictures, or write content on Facebook it is owned by them. Okay, that might have changed recently, but the fact is, everything (absolutely everything) is backed up on servers – all of which are owned by Facebook. It makes one think, if you upload pictures you took, from your camera to Facebook’s servers, you really don’t own them anymore.

Yes, Social Networking does offer its advantages, such as, the ability to communicate with those around world in a few simple clicks. But, does the digital trail of your content mean that your whole life is online? For example, if you were to upload pictures, and write content (textual) on your account, then delete it, does this mean that the main servers also delete it, or is it that Facebook keeps this, invading your privacy, your commands, on your account. Actually, on second thought, is it really your account?

Luckily enough I don’t have to worry about any of this, simply because I don’t particapate within this area of the Information Society. I’m one of the few ‘ordinary’ people to simply, email, text, call and blog (on here) about things. I am also interested in the work Google+ is doing, will there every be a day when Google+ becomes a verb? Will we ever enter into a new phase of social networking?

Post 31, over and out