Facebook and Your Privacy – Are these two things incompatible?

Facebook has again been caught up in another breach of privacy row over the way in which it manages users’ data. This is an on-going controversial issue which does not appear to be subsiding any time soon.

Facebook is currently accused of selling access to a user’s details to companies as part of their market research. The claims go on to say that this is due to the fact that Facebook are under pressure to improve revenue following the financial knock they took after its market flotation.

Although Facebook’s privacy settings have been a subject of much media interest, the true fact of the matter is that by signing up to Facebook’s services you are essentially agreeing to share your details with over 900 million other users. You are agreeing to share your details with almost 1/6th of the planet’s population. Just taking into account the sheer scale of people involved is going to make privacy a difficult thing to maintain.

With regards to advertising, Facebook’s privacy policy states that it mixes up the material it shares about you with other users’ data after it has removed your name and other personally identifying information, which means that any third party advertiser cannot actually identify you personally. However, again look at the practical side of things. If companies are now permitted to trawl through Facebook’s user’s accounts armed with material about marketing trends, it is not exactly going to be difficult for them to determine who is looking for which product. If one of your friends with a public profile shows on their ‘Wall’ that you have just returned from a cruise in the Mediterranean then it is likely that you will soon be receiving adverts from cruise providers. This did not come from your private data, as that has been censored by Facebook, but by a mere analysis of the data associated with you from public profiles.

A large amount of the users on Facebook have a public profile, which everyone can see and therefore this will allow people access to you, regardless of what Facebook’s policy is. As long as there are public profiles used by your friends, relatives, acquaintances, your privacy will always be in jeopardy.

Facebook is a microcosm of the internet as a whole, a global goldfish fishbowl for everyone to look at everyone else. It is extremely difficult to protect your privacy on the internet no matter how you look at it.

We at Pinder Reaux have been involved in leading internet law cases involving celebrities, sports personalities and high profile businesses, all revolving around issues of privacy. There are ways to safeguard and protect your privacy online, and we can illustrate proactive ways to do this before you fall victim to a breach of privacy. We also have pro-active legal solutions along with weapons in which to stop any breach of privacy on the internet.

The means and tools are available and we can help you.

John Spyrou

Head of Internet and Media Law

Pinder Reaux & Associates