Thursday, October 7, 2010

Facebook feature allows your friends to add you to race-hate, man-boy love groups

WOKE up this morning and logged onto Facebook only to find out you're suddenly a gay, anti-Semitic Bieberphile?
If so, take heart in the fact that you're not alone.
There are many like you, and they all share a common bond - People Who Are Tired of Facebook Messing with their Personal Data.
Yesterday, Facebook rolled out yet another new feature - the ability for users to organise their friends into groups
How to opt-out of a Facebook Group
In theory, it sounds like a handy tool. Things you might want to post for your friends to see, you might not want your family members to see.
Similarly, you might want to enable a chat with just your work colleagues and discuss a project or which pub to catch each other at after knock-off, similar to existing features in other social networks such as LinkedIn and Yahoo! Groups.
In practice, however, the new Facebook Groups has rapidly traced the same familiar path just about every new Facebook feature seems to do, which is riding roughshod over the privacy concerns of its 500 million users.

The new Facebook Groups feature, which was announced amid much fanfare regarding giving users "more control", actually does exactly the opposite.

If you had more control as of yesterday, your hilarious Facebook friends wouldn't have been able to add you to the North American Man-Boy Love Association overnight, such as was the case with well-known technology entrepreneur and blogger Jason Calcanis.

Mr Calcanis has posted at his website a copy of an email that he sent to Facebook after being "force-joined" to NAMBLA.

"There is no opt-in," Mr Calcanis complained, noting that he is not - and has no interest in being - a NAMBLA member.

"I've now been assigned to a group that advocates...well...ummm...You can look it up; it's very bad."
So if you were Julia Gillard, you probably wouldn't want to be seen in the Fans of Tony Abbott's Budgie-Smugglers group, either.
But until you work out what's going on, you won't have a choice.
That's because unlike LinkedIn and Yahoo! Groups, Facebook Groups is an "opt-out" feature as opposed to "opt-in" features.

Which means that by the time a new feature gets annoying to the point where users realise they have to opt-out, Facebook has already gathered even more data about how its 500 million members interact with each other.

No comments:

Post a Comment