A Moral Quandary on Site Admin Saturday

Heather says:

I asked this question yesterday on the Facebook fan page, now that it’s site admin Saturday, I’m bringing it to the site proper.

Due to Facebook’s privacy standards, more specifically their lack, I worry having a Facebook page condones their actions / standards. A lot of regular readers use Facebook as their portal to the site.

I spend a fair amount of time studying online behavior, ethics, and best practices. The average user does not, I understand what I’m putting out there, what I’m over-sharing etc. I have no expectation of privacy. Facebook implies there are privacy settings, but the controls are excessively convoluted.

I am extremely uncomfortable with contributing to the harvesting and selling of information from less tech savvy users. While I have no problem with the give and take of information for product or service, I have a big problem when it isn’t done in a transparent manner.

I know this isn’t exactly a Home Ec topic, but I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. HeatherSolos on May 16, 2010 at 10:05 am

    I want to clearly state, it's not the actual lack of privacy that concerns me. It's the obfuscation that does. I have no illusions on Twitter. Everything I say is open, end of story.
    If Facebook went that route, I'd be fine.
    Also, I just spotted the teeny facebook share at the top of the comment form. grr, I thought I had gotten everything.

  2. candice on May 15, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    I don’t mind facebook because I only put up what I don’t mind being seen. I actually JUST unlocked my “privacy” settings and I DO share pictures of my child because if I’m being honest my dream in life involves being in the public eye and if I can’t handle it at this scale then how could I handle it “in my dreams”…that’s just me.

  3. ThatBobbieGirl on May 16, 2010 at 12:52 am

    I understand your concern, but it's not just facebook — too many people share way more info than they realize.

    Several years ago when i worked for a non-profit organization that worked closely with teenagers, and I was asked to prepare a talk about online safety. What I found was scary.

    Here's a link to what I wrote about it.

    (Of course, nowadays I almost completely fail to follow my own advice – but I'm well aware that I'm doing it)

  4. Michael Carnell on May 16, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Heather – I commend you for taking the time to talk about the subject and get others thinking about it. I too worry that too much gets to freely shared on FB, especially by young people and those who may not understand all the implications. I need to stay on FB due to the work I do and the fact that exploring and explaining it are part of my job. But, if that wasn't the case, I would probably lock everything down exactly as you have done.

  5. Sandy on May 15, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I'm not sure I can answer your question directly. Some are going to feel that unethical sites shouldn't be supported while others will feel that it is each users responsibility to protect themselves- we have no responsibility for each other. I lean toward the first response. Either way, Facebook and sites like it will have no reason to clean up their act as long as people are willing to keep using the service the way it is. The popularity of Facebook shows that people are not really that serious about their online privacy, which will only encourage more companies to take advantage of users the way Facebook does. This makes the internet less safe for all of us, whether we use Facebook or not. Thanks for bringing up the question. Sine the technology is still so new and still develping day by day, that we should all be asking ourselves these questions- and likely will be for a long time.

    • HeatherSolos on May 16, 2010 at 10:03 am

      I believe in education so responsibility is a realistic expectation. It's why I helped found our local Social Media Club. This is such nascent technology that it's a lot of blind leading the blind, but we're trying to figure out best practices etc.

  6. James Moffitt on May 15, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    i too have gone into my Facebook account and locked everything down. The only people that have access to my personal information are friends that are in my friends list. I went in and cleaned out my friends list to those people that I know personally and that I interact with on a semi regular basis. I disconnected from all the applications that were associated with my account as well. I agree with Heather in that online privacy is a serious issue and no one has a right to sell our private information unless we expressly consent to it. If it were not for Glamble and Texas Holdem games I probably would just delete the account and be done with it. LOL

  7. Phillip on May 15, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I could argue both sides, I don’t fault you at all for shying away from it. I love the idea of it, but i don’t like the company/people running it. I hope hey get enough heat from this to make them straighten up and make it hard to accidentally share unintended. I’m actually listening to this same debate on the tech guy live right now. What we really need is a real competitor.

    • HeatherSolos on May 15, 2010 at 6:59 pm

      That's why I'm not deleting anything at this time. Right now, I'm unplugging. The page will still exist and I can link everything back up if everything gets straightened out. For now though the page will lie fallow.

      I'm going to lock down my personal account, but not delete it. I'd rather have an account exist than have a squatter jump on it.

      • Ruth on May 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm

        I also locked down my Facebook profile, unfriended people I didn't keep in touch with (never friended someone I didn't know, but some acquaintanceships expire), that kind of thing. I've chosen to put a button in my bookmarking objects for someone to add a post of mine to Facebook, but that's it. I'm not even considering Connect or a Facebook page…Facebook is such a shady place that I can't feel comfortable using it.

  8. HeatherSolos on May 15, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    The more I think about it, the more I realize I just can't appear to condone what's going on. I'll be removing thee options to interact with Facebook until the policy is completely overhauled.

  9. JimK on May 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Not sure about the morality question of support, but you know my personal view…I deleted my Facebook profile. I simpply cannot stand the idea that they literally are looking for new ways each and every day to sell me to someone new and hide how they are doing it. I'm out, and I'm not going back. I'd rather lose touch with people who clearly never wanted to stay in touch in the first place…

  10. Ashley on May 15, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I had to delete my facebook. Last time I updated my status to say I was going somewhere an ex-friend broke into my house and took things. Mainly all her stuff except for a cell phone, which she is still using to this day. To say the less it freaked me out that she could pop the lock on my silding glass door and get in so easliy. As far as companies using my information, it's prety scary. It's about as alarming as when I tried to look up an UPS store and google already new the city I was looking for -in the search bar! I think it will take a few lawsuits before the company stops selling our information to others. .

  11. Rebekka on May 15, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I have a facebook profile but I only post things to it that I don't mind anyone seeing or reading. Very few pictures and only of myself. Almost no personal information under my profile. I have to admit, though, that this is less because of facebook itself and more because you never really know who's reading it – anyone from aunts to ex-friends you can't be bothered to un-friend.

    That said, it amazes me what other people post – most particularly pictures of their children – and it offends me that you can be tagged in a picture that you yourself haven't posted and which can be very revealing/embarrassing.

    I have never followed an organization or business on facebook so I can't really speak to that.

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