Simple solution

It\’s impossible to keep your personal information private on a social networking site. We need stronger privacy protections

It\’s entirely possible to keep your information private. Don\’t join.

Dim bulb.

11 comments on “Simple solution

  1. Ahem…Mr. Worstall did I see that you had rubbed shoulders with the hoi polloi in the form of Lord Willoughby De Broke . By strange and slightly unsettling coincidence that very man has a letter in the Telegraph . It is a commendable letter actually concerning the necessity of referendums if treaties are to be signed binding future voters .

    Oh on Face book … oh alright then

  2. Hmmn. Not sure I like that argument much.

    “Bothered by police roadblocks where they search you and ask for your papers? Don’t go out then.”

  3. Interesting problem here: People want to use Facebook, MySpace, Google, Twitter etc, but they don’t want ad agencies etc mining their profiles and posts. The costs of hosting such sites is very small per person/post/tweet, but it is not free, hence Facebook, MySpace, Google, Twitter etc need $billions of revenue to cover their costs (never mind make profits for their owners). How else can they make money? The obvious one would be to make the sites subscription funded, with a promise not to obtain revenue from any other source. The question is, how many users would pay for using these sites?

    It’s a bit like financial advice: many people do not want to pay a fee for it, but can you trust commission funded advice?

  4. I don’t know why people enter their real dates of birth, and the article linked to by Tim complains about being asked for gender and ethnicity – well the provision of these isn’t mandatory.

    But each site should conform to the law, it should have a clear privacy policy (that mustn’t be changed ad hoc without notice) and a reasonable complaints procedure. There should be a remedy if the site flouts the law. The user should not have to jump through hoops to cancel his membership. We should educate people about the risks of putting their personal information online.

    All reasonable stuff, I think.

    Tim adds: “not have to jump through hoops to cancel his membership”

    That I agree with. I’ve been trying to cancel my Facebook account for months. There seems to be no way to do it.

  5. “Hmmn. Not sure I like that argument much.

    “Bothered by police roadblocks where they search you and ask for your papers? Don’t go out then.”…”

    There’s surely a difference between being able to move about and being able to use a pointless piece of vanity software?

  6. > There’s surely a difference between being able to move about and being able to use a pointless piece of vanity software?

    Yes! With Facebook there’s no need to go outside.

  7. “and being able to use a pointless piece of vanity software?”

    That’s only one step away from using the words “socially useful”.

  8. There is a huge difference between restrictions on one’s liberty imposed by the State and those voluntarily imposed upon oneself by participation in consensual activities against societal sanction. By joining Facebook, which is intrinsically oriented towards individual identity (what better metaphor for the self than one’s face?) one necessarily gives up a degree of herd anonymity. The extent to which one can blur or mask that exposure is the mark of well-designed software, but it is not the responsibility of the State to guarantee it. Facebook’s Beacon feature was a dumb-shit idea. It was excoriated. They changed it. Problem solved. The moron in marketing who came up with the idea should have had his thumbs broken and then been fired, along with the entire chain of useless wankers who OK’d it, but that is where it stops.

    If you don’t know someone well, don’t have them as a friend on Facebook. If you don’t want everyone to be privy to the drivelling of your incontinent stream of consciousness, don’t have a Twitter account. Not hanging out your dirty washing for all to see has been a basic precept of civil society for millennia. The answer to every little niggle that life throws your way is not to get some useless-mouth politician passing a law.

    And anyone who uses the definite article with ‘hoi polloi’ (especially in a catachrestic form) has outed himself as a member. But we knew that already.

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