Walled gardens and private groups within

It has recently been raised, should academics and students use facebook as a work tool in which to discuss projects and assignments, maybe do so within a private group.

Yes, it is possible to set up a group on facebook, it can be a private group, invite only, invisible to everyone else.

But, and it is a big but. Would you wish to be connected to the people in the real world, have access to all your personal information, why then in the virtual world?

Facebook is a walled garden. Yes, you can have access to the delights within, but to gain access there is a price to pay, you gain entry by selling your digital soul at the gate.

I never cease to be amazed at the amount of personal information people put on facebook – their partner, their school, their town, their e-mail address, their place of work – more than sufficient for ID theft, more than sufficient to gain access to their bank account.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Facebook is not a social networking site, it is a site for the collection of personal data. When something appears to be free, it is you who is the product on sale.

I was first alerted to the security issue and cavalier attitude to personal privacy some years ago when I started getting requests for my birthday. I asked the persons. I learnt they had not sent the request, it was a facebook app.

Similarly request to send flowers, to do quizzes, play games.

Why does no one query why to play a game requires access to personal data?

Once access is gained, onto the next victim.

Access includes access to your list of friends.

I recently did a search for an article on spotify and how it rips people off. I landed on spotify, but somewhat unusual I was in a request to join. But the scary part was to save me filling out the form, one click and the required information would be transferred from facebook. That filled out included e-mail, and information that I had deleted from facebook. It also showed me the people I am connected to on facebook who use spotify.

I have absolutely no wish to us spotify. Spotify is the facebook model, it collects personal data.

I am baffled why anyone uses spotify when bandcamp is far far superior.

On Earth Day, Imogen Heap streamed live an event from the Roundhouse. You can still watch the event, but you have to go through a facebook app. No way!

A facebook app has access to all your personal information, including your profile picture and who you are connected to. Remember that lewd profile picture that you now feel embarrassed by that you thought only your friends could see? Every facebook app you ever gave consent to, also has a copy.

Who is behind the facebook app, what do they do with this information?

The Dewarists make their music available but you have to go through facebook to get it. Why? Why not put it on bandcamp?

So where do we go from here. We wish to enter the walled garden, but we do not like the entry fee.

By all means enter but do the following:

  • remove all personal data
  • do not fill out the profile information, school, university, workplace etc
  • never use facebook apps and delete those you are connected to
  • sign in to sites with ID and password, not one click facebook however tempting

If you have information on facebook that you wish people to see, then create tunnels through the wall. Provide links to give direct access. Do not force them to join facebook.

Who needs NSA, GCHQ when facebook so effectively does their job for them?

Top Story in Privacy Daily (Tuesday 1 May 2012).

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