Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Users Hate Facebook's Privacy Settings, Facebook Yawns Tauntingly in Bed of Cash

facebook privacy

Uh oh, it looks like as well as U.S. governmental types, Facebook's own user base is beginning to get angry about the site's recent thrusts to redefine individual Net privacy. Does Mark Zuckerberg actually express concern? Nope.

The subtlety in the current complaints comes from Facebook's recent change to Facebook Pages, the replacement for the old Community system. When Facebook rejigged this part of its social net, it redirected your "membership" of communities to what new Facebook Page it deemed appropriate. As they're noting over at, this can cause a subtle yet potentially significant problem which users are beginning to complain about: Facebook may not choose the "right" Page to associate your data with. The example given in this piece is the difference between a "random" community generated Page that has a roughly similar name to an official Fan Page (in this case the writer, Nick O'Neill noted he used to be a member of "Social Times Inc." network, and Facebook reassigned him to a totally different new community page, rather than the official Social Times Facebook Page—odd, given the name similarity). This isn't a problem in itself, since if you're paying attention then you can always hop into the system manually and re-associate yourself with the correct Page.

But Facebook's also recently redefined what is and isn't your public versus private information: More of your data has been deemed public in Facebook's recent privacy land-grab. And when you become associated with a Page, a good chunk of your personal info is broadcast to the group members even if it's the wrong Page. And remember, Facebook may have performed this lovely little trick for you automatically.

As The Independent notes, being a member of a Community Page also broadcasts your details to everyone who's a Page fan—even if that's thousands of people. User Becky Shaw is quoted as saying "If we don't want to be in a community (I don't want to be with all people who like to cook), let us opt out," and she has a point: Surely an opt-out option would've been pretty easy.

Essentially, this is another reminder to get you to go into your Facebook settings, and make sure your privacy is as locked down as you think it is, and to make sure Facebook's changes haven't inadvertently shared your data with people you don't know.

Or perhaps this should be written as "advertently," because a recent insider-info leak suggests Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg really doesn't care two hoots about user privacy. He thinks its a load of nonsense, and that users really don't care themselves about privacy (apart from all those thousands who, you know, really do, Mark?) In Zuckerberg's mind, since he doesn't "believe" in Net privacy, he probably feels he has the freedom to change Facebook's privacy settings to pretty much anything he wants. And what he wants, of course, is to manipulate the system to give him as much income as possible.

To keep up with this news follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter. That QR code on the left will even take your smartphone to my Twitter feed. And if you really liked this story, you can re-tweet too.