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User Apathy Ensures Little Privacy Within Facebook

One of the things that many incumbents in the political world depend on to stay in office is voter apathy. Once they have gotten themselves in office they are quick to realize that future voter turnout is likely to be lackluster and all they need to do is “hang in there” and not rock the boat. They can get away with most anything and their supporters will still get to the polls in numbers ahead of any new or newly interested voters, thus ensuring their continued time in office.

Guess what? The same principle applies in the online world. One of the major players that absolutely thrives on the apathetic view toward their policies is Facebook. Facebook continues to run roughshod over privacy concerns, but knows that outside of the vocal and very minor portion of the minority (us industry types), no one is really paying attention. To their even greater advantage, they know full well that most users of Facebook don’t care at all.

This past week Facebook rolled out its facial recognition photo tagging system to everyone on Facebook, and made the default setting for users “enabled.” Now, I don’t get terribly bent out of shape about the actual features that Facebook introduces. They are going to push the envelope to the absolute edge on everything. That’s their MO and they are sticking to it. The great power comes great ability to do just about anything, just ask Google. Oh you thought I was going to say responsibility? From Mark Zuckerberg and Co.? That’s rich.

Where I get a bit tweaked is the idea that everything Facebook introduces to its user base it automatically sets the feature as enabled without asking the user if that’s what they want. Why should we have to opt out rather than the other way around, which is to opt in if we like it and simply ignore it if we don’t?

Well, this is where apathy on the part of the vast majority of users (in a totally unscientific guess I am going to say up to 98%) comes into play. You see, most users of Facebook or any social media tool are blissfully clueless about what the features are and just what they are “giving away” to most social media data gatherers. If they find something new as a feature they just assume it was always there and they just didn’t come across it yet.

All of this is really too bad because it is ridiculously out of balance. Facebook holds all the cards. There is no power for the regular user. I am not even sure that Facebook adheres to its own policies like the one that says if 7,000 comments are given about any change (maybe that rule is just about their privacy policy, I don’t really know because everything they do is so convoluted on purpose) then the change has to brought to the Facebook universe for a vote.

I never see notifications about these things and it is likely that I never will because Facebook has also decided to feed me information in my news feed based on the popularity (read: frequency) of updates by my friends. So, in effect, by not updating often, they are filtering themselves out of the view of those who might actually comment and cause the tool to show some more communal responsibility to everyone.

Look, with Facebook it’s like going to a casino. The house always wins. The only way you are not likely to get screwed by either Facebook or a casino is to simply not play in either one.

Are you willing to do that or did you stop caring about this about five paragraphs ago?

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