Stay informed on Facebook's third-party privacy policies

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

At face value â€" no pun intended â€" Facebook appears to be a safe, reliable connection to one’s various social networks.

Its agency is like no other, brimming with utility and functionality that mimics the addictive properties of Paris Hilton’s favourite party favour. But there’s another side to Facebook hidden under the photo tags and wall posts. For starters, Facebook’s privacy agreement indicates personal information is collected and sold to third parties.

Most would be suspicious if the clause weren’t disguised in a flurry of legal jargon. But some people ignore that stage, scrolling down and hitting the accept button without reading what they are signing.

Some might say ‘Who cares?’ Others feel comfortable forking over their private information, which inevitably reaches the faceless corporate entities that own and operate the world in which we live.

The website claims the CIA used its corporate fronts to fund Facebook’s development and, along with assistance from the Department of Defense, that Facebook data-mines our personal information on a daily basis to create a compendium of political views, known affiliations, et cetera for perusal at the government’s leisure.

These allegations have yet to be proven, but at the very least it’s thought-provoking. What, exactly, are we getting ourselves into?

Calls for amendments to Facebook’s privacy policy have been made to ensure user information is protected and remains within Facebook. In response to mounting criticism, Facebook’s owners have acknowledged they intend on releasing an updated version of the policy that will comply with requests for privacy.

Unfortunately, Facebook’s owners haven’t revealed a launch date for the enactment of this revised policy. Is the already incurred damage irreversible?

As of Feb. 2007, Facebook had more than 27 million members, and it shows no signs of slowing down. If these allegations have the slightest truth, governmental and corporate entities have already won.

Herein lies the conflict: utility vs. privacy. To its credit, Facebook has revolutionized how we interact and relate with one another. Where else can you find out about a party you weren’t invited to?

The ability to reunite with a friend from long ago enables us to reclaim the past, therefore Facebook has become a staple of everyday life. Perhaps that’s what happens when a promising idea is swallowed-up by a market-driven western world, where ethics are replaced with dollar figures.

In this day and age, we’re over stimulated to a point where we no longer realize the extent of our actions.

It’s important for us to make an effort to stay informed, and reject the enticing pull of ignorance.

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