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Monday, 17 May 2010 14:27

Log Out of Facebook

Has that time finally arrived when people will feel, its better off to delete their Facebook account? If so, then May 31 is perhaps the D-Day, when hundreds and thousands of Facebook users are expected to log out of the website, which is currently the worlds largest socaial networking website.

A website called Quit Facebook Day, has set the last day of May as the day when, everyone keen to leave the social network should finally take the plunge and hit the Delete key. Several high profile technology pundits and celebs are kicking the world’s number one social networking site to the curb. Just on 7th May Begonia Infosys, posted a blog related to perils of social networking, Facebook popularity and infringment of privacy. Looks like people have taken note of the seroius violations of privacy.

Begonia Infosys published what Elliot Schrage, Vice President-Global Communications (Facebook) said 93These new products and features are designed to enhance personalization and promote social activity across the Internet while continuing to give users unprecedented control over what information they share, when they want to share it, and with whom94. Begonia Infosys had said that with Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg famously saying 93There is nothing private in social networking on internet.94 its really important to draw a line where people can use social networking websites freely but still maintain a level of privacy. There are several reasons why people are logging out of Facebook, some of the important ones being

An Open Secret

With the Facebook’s recent introduction of a platform that, it by default gives third-party companies access to members’ names, friend lists and hobbies to “personalize” their surfing experience, everything is an open secret. This means that when a member logs onto a partner site, such as Yelp or Pandora, the content displayed is shaped by their own interests, as well as the activities of their Facebook friends. With everything being out in the open, there is no privacy, however this feature can be disabled using a manual opt-out which is essential.

Dangers of Facebook

According to a security expert website, Facebook users unwittingly expose themselves to 5 dangers that might be beyond their control. As their information is shared with third parties; their privacy settings revert to a less safe default mode after each redesign; malware from Facebook advertisements; fake profiles from scammers; bugs; hackings; spam; and real friends who unknowingly make them vulnerable.

Word of Mouth Campaign

According Google Canada reports that the top online search related to “Facebook account” is “delete Facebook,” while the fastest-rising related query is “deactivate Facebook account,” up 40% over the past 90 days. Worldwide, the search engine’s results on Facebook account deletion campaign has ballooned from 15.9 million to 19.5 million between May 11 and 13 alone. Rememeber that in a blog Begonia Infosys had reported that Facebook with a valuation of US$15 billion has 400 million members in total, still if in this pace people start logging out of Facebook, by 31st May 2010 the leading social networking website may lose out on the huge chunk of its subscribers.

The Rule Book

Some say privacy and security are considered dirty words at the Facebook. As the world’s largest social media networking website, Facebook has come under fire for its privacy policy that has left users exposed and vulnerable. Amazingly, it was reported that Facebook’s privacy policy is a whopping 5,830 words long, even bigger than the Constitution of the USA, which reportedly has 4,543 words. On the flip side, Facebook perhaps aware of the changing midset of users, is making it difficult for users to delete their social networking accounts.

Bugs and Hacking

Begonia Infosys had also referred to a survey that indicated that 23% of Facebook92s users 93either didn92t know that the site offered privacy controls or chose not to use them.94 Begonia Infosys also reported in its blog about the recent news of sale of 1.5 million stolen Facebook a/c on the black market by a Russian hacker. Researchers at VeriSign iDefense Labs, an internet security firm found stolen login details of people on Facebook.com put on sale on a Russian website Carder.su, by the hacker called 91kirllos92; who was offering login information for bundles of 1,000 accounts with 10 or fewer friends on sale for just $25 (£16) and with more than 10, for $45 (£30).

Despite this Facebook rubbished these claims, saying that 91kirllos92 was making wild claims. Facebook said it tried to buy details from 91kirllos92 during its own investigation, the hacker was unable to produce anything. Then there was the case of a software glitch on Facebook; that let people92s friends in online communities, see each others92 private chat messages. Eventhough Facebook temporarily shut down its online chat feature saying 93When we received reports of the problem, our engineers promptly diagnosed it and temporarily disabled the chat function94 the damage was done.

According to Facebook, for peeks into private chat all Facebook users had to do was to manipulate the 93preview my profile94 feature in a particular way that led chat messages and pending friend requests to be made visible for a 93limited period of time94. The software glitch exposed the world92s leading online social-networking service which is increasingly being scrutinized regarding infringement of privacy of its users.

Probably for this reason mainly, people are trying to do everything to log out of Facebook. Lets see what happens on May 31st 2010.

Published in CMS

Begonia Infosys had been writing about the various privacy violations by Facebook. that has caused people lot of headache. Looks like the shouting by BIS and numerous others websites, bloggers and eminent tech honchos on the internet about the need to rectify the privacy violations on Facebook have finally borne fruit.  BIS had even published some time back a blog titled  Social Networking, Facebook and Infringement of Privacy on this very issue. As such after enduring weeks of criticism over his company's latest privacy changes, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today offered a mea culpa in an op-ed column in the Washington Post. But some industry observers doubt that the tweaks he outlined will be enough to satisfy users' concerns. Social networking giant Facebook admitted Monday that it had made mistakes in its privacy policies and promised to roll out new tools that would make it easier for its 400 million users to control their personal data.

Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old billionaire founder of the second most popular site on the internet, made the admission in a column that appeared in the Washington Post on Monday amid growing user anger sparked by a string of privacy glitches. "The biggest message we have heard recently is that people want easier control over their information," Mark Zuckerberg further wrote "Simply put, many of you thought our controls were too complex. Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted." Mark Zuckerberg also said that the company would introduce simpler privacy settings within weeks, as well as a way to block all third-party services. Facebook has often come in for criticism of its privacy policy, whose default setting is to allow large amounts of personal data to be viewed and searched by the public. Criticism grew following the introduction of new features recently that extended Facebook buttons across numerous internet sites and could have exposed users' browsing habits to others.

Mark Zuckerberg who had once said ‘There will be nothing private in social networking sphere’ acknowledging the public's response to Facebook's approach to privacy wrote, "Sometimes we move too fast — and after listening to recent concerns, we're responding.  Simply put, many of you thought our controls were too complex. Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted," Zuckerberg wrote. "We just missed the mark." He said that the company is planning to introduce simplified privacy settings, as well as an easy way to disable all third-party services. But Adam Ostrow, editor-in-chief of the social media blog (and ABCNews.com partner) Mashable, said that though Mark Zuckerberg's statements may recognize the recent public outcry, they don't directly address the concerns raised by Facebook's most vocal critics. He said "I think what he's done here is essentially acknowledge that there's been a lot of discussion recently about Facebook and privacy issues," said Ostrow. "But it really falls short of saying anything significant."

Rather than forcing users to opt out of sharing their personal data and friend lists with third parties, privacy advocates want Facebook not to opt them in in the first place. And that doesn't appear to be the approach the company is taking, although Mark Zuckerberg didn't provide specifics on the privacy changes being planned. It may be known that these changes have prompted the Log Out of Facebook campaign. The site QuitFacebookDay, is trying to convince users to protest the company's privacy changes by quitting Facebook en masse on May 31. So far, more than 14,000 users have committed to quitting it.  This weekend  an e-mail from Mark Zuckerberg was published in which he also acknowledged missteps. Mark Zuckerberg admitted mistakes by saying "I know we've made a bunch of mistakes, but my hope at the end of this is that the service ends up in a better place and that people understand that our intentions are in the right place and we respond to the feedback from the people we serve," Mark Zuckerberg wrote in an e-mail to Robert Scoble.

In the weeks since Facebook unveiled its latest changes, detractors have focused on the social network's strategy of pushing users toward more openness. One controversial feature instantly shared user data with some websites without the user's permission. Another feature urged users to make public previously private information about personal interests and activities. Ostrow said that Mark Zuckerberg's column today fails to address these highly debated features and it seems unlikely that Facebook intends to roll them back. He also said that users want to know what Facebook plans to do with their data, but the company has yet to provide an explanation. The latest backlash traces back to Facebook's developer conference a few weeks ago, when Mark Zuckerberg announced several changes intended to make the Web more social and personalized by expanding Facebook's presence to other sites. It may be known that on thousands of sites, including ABCNews.com, a "social plug-in" now lets users "like" content and see what their Facebook friends have liked, directly from those sites. On three sites piloting an "instant personalization" feature, a user's profile information and friend list are automatically read by the site and used to shape the user's experience. But over the past few weeks, some of those data-sharing changes have drawn criticism from users, lawmakers and privacy advocates, who argue that Facebook needs to give its more than 400 million members more control over the personal information they share on the site.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y, and three other Democratic senators had even urged Facebook to reconsider its privacy changes and asked the Federal Trade Commission to create guidelines for Facebook and other social networks to follow. Several high-profile personalities in the technology community publicly announced that they were deleting or deactivating their Facebook pages in response to the social network's new privacy policy. Even regular Facebook users have also indicated their frustrations with the company's changes on protest pages across the site. For example, a Facebook page called "Petition: Facebook, respect my privacy" has attracted more than 147,000 members. More tech-savvy Facebook users have created dedicated websites intended to challenge Facebook's approach to privacy. One site, called Openbook, aggregates all public Facebook posts into one constantly updated stream and lets visitors query the site for anything of interest. The founders said the point of the site is to draw attention to the amount of information about users Facebook makes public.

It may known that prior to Mark Zuckerberg's Washington Post column, Facebook vice president of privacy Elliot Schrage took part in a Q&A with readers of the New York Times to address privacy concerns. "It's clear that despite our efforts, we are not doing a good enough job communicating the changes that we're making. Even worse, our extensive efforts to provide users greater control over what and how they share appear to be too confusing for some of our more than 400 million users. That's not acceptable or sustainable. But it's certainly fixable. You're pointing out things we need to fix," he said. "We will soon ramp up our efforts to provide better guidance to those confused about how to control sharing and maintain privacy." Lets hope that better sense prevails at the Facebook HQs and they come up with some stringent measures to take control of the privacy infringement situation.

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