Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh, You Ignorant Facebook Users.

If you use Facebook regularly, I imagine you've seen a version of this status message:
FACEBOOK has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures WITHOUT your permission. Click on SETTINGS (at the top where you see the Log out link). Select PRIVACY. Then select NEWSFEEDS and WALL. Next select the tab that reads FACEBOOK ADS. There is a drop down box, select NO ONE. Then SAVE your changes. (Repost to let your friends know).
I'm so sick of seeing this message. Sure, it seems helpful, but there are some issues here that need to be addressed.
  1. Facebook has done nothing without your permission. Every time they change something like this, they post BIG notices at the top of your Facebook Home page. Every time, Facebook encourages you to read the changes, comment on them, and generally be an informed site user. (Side note: did you also know that Facebook comes in a variety of languages, including "pirate"? No? There are sidebar ads trying to tell you so at least once daily.) Facebook has your permission to use your likeness in advertisements because you never withdrew your permission. They said they would unless you told them "no", and you didn't tell them "no".
  2. As a result of the notices, I changed this value MONTHS ago. Why didn't you? Don't you regularly check your privacy settings, especially after a notice that the policy changed? Most people don't, assuming that if something really big changes, a "goodwill" message like this will alert them. That's lazy. That's the behavior of a person who gets charged two months at $49.95 because they forget to cancel their three-day trial membership to a dubious website. You don't want to be that person, and you don't want someone else to get lazy and develop the same habits.
  3. Reposting this message is becoming a bit like doing Christian missionary work: Everyone's heard it. If you just found out, you really are the last on the block. At this point, your posting this message simply shows people you didn't pay attention at any previous time. You don't read notices, you don't check your settings very often, and you either don't log in very often or you don't pay much attention to the things your friends say in status messages. You're the demographic that Facebook thought advertisers would be able to use in their ads.
Hopefully people will learn the REAL lesson: when a website tells you their policies changed, YOU SHOULD READ THE NEW POLICIES. If you simply can't be bothered to scan through the legalese, you can still take a moment to see if the privacy settings for the site changed.

1 comment:

Amanda said...