Facebook Privacy Tip
Making use of a public programming interface that Facebook released a few weeks ago, three programmers in San Francisco wrote Openbook, a website that searches Facebook profiles for — well, for anything you want. Because I’m basically a nice guy, I’ve illustrated this with a relatively innocuous search for “rectal exam” and then blurred out the results. But other popular searches include “playing hooky,” “boss is an asshole,” and so forth.
The site’s authors state their “goal is to get Facebook to restore the privacy of this information, so that this website and others like it no longer work.” Kevin adds,
All the charts and graphs and blog posts in the world don’t bring home just how public your Facebook information is the way this does. So show it to your friends! And if you want to make sure that your random musings aren’t available to, say, your boss or your teachers, here’s a tool that checks your Facebook privacy settings and lets you know if you should think about changing them.
All this is well and good but, although there are many reasons to hate Facebook, I’m not sure that this is one of them. For one thing, this is actually information that people are putting on their public profiles, not a flaw in Facebook’s privacy settings.
Regardless, I hereby offer — free of charge! — a non-technological solution to this problem:
Do not broadcast news of your rectal exams, your misdeeds, or negative opinions about your boss on social media sites!
Quaint, I know, but it’s been guaranteed to protect your privacy every time it’s tried.