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Often we hear that Facebook has been changing users account settings, like the recent default email address change as reported by the BBC. Often the change is one not many users like, but it must be said the majority just don't care. You should care because Facebook often fails on privacy and recently settled with the FTC over privacy violations, and had to agree to 20 years of auditing!

There's a saying that 'you don't get anything for nothing', and in Facebooks world that's also true. You the average user or business using Facebook may think it's a great free service but in reality Facebook is a business and they are in the business of selling your 'eyeballs' to advertisers.

Google created a fuss when they started offering 'free' email and then put advertisements into the webmail page that were placed partly based on the content in your emails, Facebook obviously think this is working for Google so they're copying the idea (where have I heard that before about Facebook) by trying to persuade people to use their email system. This is the same business model used by almost all businesses that have 'free' services online, but to get the most out of your value as an 'eyeball' Facebook needs to try and target you with specific advertising, just like Google does.

So in the end there's an arms race here, between users who value their privacy and Facebook who want to know as much about you as possible. In general Facebook is winning, if you take a look at the graphic in this article titled 'Visual Guide To Facebook's Privacy Changes Over Time' you can see this. So as always with things on the internet the rule of thumb has to be put as little (accurate) information about yourself online as possible if you are using free services because;

  • trusting the owners of these services is probably not a good idea as they will use your information
  • if the free service gets hacked your personal details maybe used by bad guys for things like identity theft

To coin another phrase, there's no such thing as a free lunch, especially if you're in a walled garden.

Published: June 26th 2012 at 12:21pm

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