Facebook Privacy: Fail or Misplaced Blame?

Today’s post was written by Jennie Meyer, Head Librarian and social media apprentice at the MMC-Raleigh campus.

In a valiant attempt to bring you engaging material on the Social Media Dispatch, I thought I would offer up a quick blurb on the newest Facebook farce. Bear with me; I’m not the eloquent writer that Mr. Odom is.

So have you seen the new issue with Facebook? Yesterday articles came out, (1, 2, 3 and lots more) stating how personal privacy has yet again become an issue with Facebook. Apparently apps used on Facebook are taking personal identifying information about users and selling them to third party vendors. Facebook has told us that this issue is happening basically because of basic web functioning, though obviously they are working on ways to stop the “leak”. Some third parties are saying that they weren’t aware the information was being sent out to them.

So we know everyone on this blog is using Facebook, right? I just have a question then for y’all, who said anything was EVER safe online?? I don’t remember hearing about that. I mean come on, even e-mails can’t be 100% secured. This is basic computer literacy – if you use the Internet, “you’re on the grid”. While I was reading this I couldn’t help but feel that that blame was being put onto Facebook and the app generators for more than their fair share of the blame here.

This strikes me as a social responsibility issue, or maybe I should say a personal responsibility issue. When is it going to be up to the individual to get it done, to take care of it, to take responsibility? I think this is a challenge for our global society right now and actually one of the fundamental issues we face with our students. Now before I get a huge number of flames ☺ saying that this “leak” was happening even for Facebook users with the strictest privacy settings, let me remind you that no one made these individuals get online and use Facebook. And no one made them use Facebook apps.

I guess the point I’m making, or at least trying to make, is this: if you have a beautiful home and a $13K entertainment system and someone really wants to steal it, they are going to get into your home and steal it. It doesn’t matter what you do to deter them if they are set on getting it for themselves. If you put yourself out there, (into any situation virtually or not) at some point you are going to get taken and it doesn’t matter what you do to prevent it. Do you let the fear of a possibility stop you from taking advantage of opportunity? Or do you take personal responsibility to find a balance you can live with if (or should I say when) the worst happens?


About jenniemeyer

Hello! I'm the head librarian at MMC Raleigh and also the head of the social media team. I'm really enjoying learning more about social media and think it is a fantastic tool that we are only barely using to its potential. I'm excited about meeting and networking with others from Delta campuses all across the USA.
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13 Responses to Facebook Privacy: Fail or Misplaced Blame?

  1. Jessica Rohrbach-Baker says:

    I agree with your point, but we know it is easier for people to pass blame to others. Lately in the media FB has been the easiest target. It is the same when students have reasons for not being in class. At what point do we realize we are in control of our lives – bad situations happen – we overcome the obstacles.

  2. andrewodom says:

    I honestly don’t think any of this should come as a surprise.

    The two most talked about apps in this discovery are FarmVille and Mafia Wars; both apps I have been very verbal about at workshops. To begin these apps the FB window asks if you want to share information with that app. I am not sure how much more blatant they could be. By share you are allowing ALL of your FB info to be transmitted to the 3rd party. It is as simple as that.

    Jennie made a great point. She said, “no one made these individuals get online and use Facebook. And no one made them use Facebook apps…” Likewise, no one made you (or people, in general) click on ‘Yes, I will share’ when asked by an app. That is a personal decision.

    When that Shia Lebouf movie came out (forget the title) about technology being used to auto-pilot his life and his cell phone gave him directions….did no one but me stop and think, “WOW. I have GPS tracking on my cell. I guess if someone wanted to they could just destroy me.” Call it paranoia. Call it caution. But please don’t call it a surprise. Be wise about how much information you allow to be accessed and by whom.

    On the other hand, don’t be a victim. Don’t allow yourself to become so scared that you just refuse to use such fantastic social networking platforms. Just be cautious. Learn about the platform. Learn about security. Become the puppetmaster – NOT the puppet.

    • Tyler says:

      This can really be put into perspective by those of us in the admissions departments. How many times to we get a web generated lead and the person has no idea how we got their information? We know full well that they had to somehow give permission for their information to be distributed. Privacy in this manner should be a personal responsibility. Facebook is a tool. It is not a conscious being. When that box comes up that says “will you allow this app to use your personal information,” it does not say no, you didn’t really mean to click that box so I’m not going to share your information. If you were the one that created the account then you need to be the one to use it responsibly.
      sidenote: The movie you are referring to Drew is Eagle Eye.

  3. Rachel Garrison says:

    If you want to point the blame for soemthing happening in your life today it is very easy, these days there are so many lawsuits and other things going on where people are basically just playing the “Blame Game”.

    I personally feel like people should protect themselves to the best of their ability no matter what. BUT with that being said im not going to stop living my life because of things that have happend. Would people stop driving because of car accidents, or stop eating because certain food products are recalled? NO!

  4. Jennie says:

    Wow… what great discussion. I really think this is a huge social challenge right now. Somewhere along the way people have stopped thinking things through. I attribute part of this to a lack of information literacy skills. As a librarian, particularly a librarian here at MMC, it has become personally important to me to help build those skills in our students. I challenge them with questions; well why do you think so, how do you know, what about this…? I push them to see as many angles as possible in every situation in the hopes that they take that knowledge home to their children to increase their social awareness and critical thinking. That is the great reward I have in my job, knowing that I helped (even in just a small way) to bring those skills to someone who didn’t have them before allowing them to make better personal decisions in the future.

  5. Ashley Weber says:

    As a younger individual I was one of the first to jump onto facebook when it became available to college students only. Since then there’s no doubt it has expanded and a lot of new options have been created that allow for personal information to be leaked out.

    The one factor we must all remember is- no one is forcing anyone to use the apps or join groups, or like pages. We as individuals do this on our own. I never click on the advertisments on facebook for a reason, i’m not interested in a company getting my name and personal information. I use my knowledge that this could happen to stop myself from ‘clicking’ . The opportunities Facebook creates however, by far outweigh the negatives that may happen.

    As a High School Presenter – I can personally say that Facebook is the best social media tool when trying to interact with the younger generation. Numerous students when asked , say that they would rather be notified or talk to someone on facebook versus email. We must factor in, that they may not hear announcements, read the morning paper or newsletters. So we have to come up with other ways to reach them and share important information – what better way than by using Facebook? A site they use numerous times throughout the day and are more likely to check.

    • andrewodom says:

      @Ashley – Rock on! Now we’re talking. I have been on Facebook since 2002 as both a beta tester and user. It has expanded tremendously and I am not sure if it has all been for the good.

      You are reiterating the main point here. IT IS ALL OPTIONAL! But you are so right. The positive abilities totally outweigh the negative.

      Thank you for adding your voice to the discussion.

      • Tyler says:

        I agree with Ashley 100%. With any popular media outlet there are going to be people trying to make the most of it positively and people trying to take advantage of it negatively.
        In our roles where Ashley and I work with high school students the opportunities provided by Facebook outweigh the risks innumerably! We have to make the most of this tool, and I feel that the systems that we have in place will allow us to take full advantage without having to worry about tarnishing our reputation through misuse.

  6. Whitney Green says:

    This blog makes an excellent point of how privacy concerns are now affecting the way people use networking sites. It is a shame to see blame placed on such a great networking outlet and it would be an even bigger shame if it started to affect the use of it. Even aside from marketing, facebook provides such great opportunities to share information, get ideas, and reach people you may otherwise be unable to get in contact with. I completely agree with you Jennie that we cant let the fear of possibilty hinderance us from the many opportunities it provides. And all the insight from todays posts just goes to show that it really is misplaced blame and not a fail.

  7. Alexa says:

    Iam not as facebook friendly as you guys,but I do think it is essential to keep up with what HS students are currently involved in. In each presentation I give,I ask who all is on facebook and most everyone raises their hand. I love Drew’s suggestions and blogs and just hearing “the buzz”from you guys helps me learn more and more. With privacy, it is personal,just like anything you choose to participate in!

    • andrewodom says:

      We love you chiming in Alexa. Thank you for taking a leap of faith and joining with us in this conversation. My intention was to keep us all motivating and inspiring each other.

  8. Jennie says:

    You guys blow me away! Thanks so much for all the discussion on the post. I’m greatful to be involved with such a fabulous group of people that think about and use tools in the best ways the can. Alexa, I’m glad you are getting more comfortable with the platform. Remember to reach out when you have questions – I’m still learning too.

  9. Pingback: 2010 in review | Social Media Dispatch

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