>Facebook’s official ‘Privacy’ page begins pressing users to relax their privacy settings.


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Facebook’s official ‘Privacy’ page begins pressing users to relax their privacy settings.

If I hadn’t double-checked the date I would have wondered if Facebook’s Privacy page was playing an April Fool with its recent wall post regarding a Facebook user called Tim Robinson.  The Facebook and Privacy page released a photo of what appears to be a status update by Tim relating to an incident he had in an elevator:
And this is where Facebook’s Privacy page admin seems to have taken a sip of loopy juice.  They took this example and decided to use it as advice for users to open up privacy settings.  The post said :
“Facebook user Tim Robinson posts a status update on his mobile phone while stuck in an elevator. The post helps save his life. What would have happened if Tim restricted everyone but his best friend from viewing his Wall? In that case, one would hope that the best friend is always online and available to see when Tim needs help.”
On looking at other recent posts from the Privacy page, we can detect a similar message.  It would appear that Facebook is attempting to lure users to loosen their privacy settings, using what can only be described as ridiculous examples.  The likelihood that any Facebook user restricts their wall to all but one person is absolutely ludicrous, so who is this post aimed at?   While no one can deny that Mr Robinson suffered a frightening incident, using it to persuade users into loosening their chosen privacy settings is dangerous and manipulative, as many have been quick to point out:
The Privacy page seems to share the message lately that users should take little notice of Facebook’s tagline‘connect and share with the people in your life, or simply reverse a decison once made which suits their privacy needs.  Now it appears Facebook would prefer you to ignore previous tips and fling the privacy doors open just incase the people who you allow to see you wall aren’t logged on when you frantically update your status to say:
“Help I’ve got my foot stuck down the toilet and I can’t seem to phone or text anyone for help. In fact Facebook is the ONLY thing that works on my phone.  Quick, my toes are going wrinkly!” (example)
Facebook recently came under heavy criticism for allowing Apps to request access to users phone numbers and addresses.  The Privacy page’s effort to try to rebuke any negative impact was evident in their post of  March 29 2011 in which :
“Facebook as Phonebook to allow applications you choose to access your phone number and address? Forbes’ Kashmir Hill asks “Um….’Why not?’”
Why not indeed….  Further reading of the Privacy page’s posts reveals a confusing and over-elaborate message including instructional posts which use fictional users ‘Dave and Melody’, ‘Al and Keon’, and ‘Ami and Bo’ to try to explain how to use certain settings.  Instead of simply and clearly instructing users where to find them, the admin creates a plot and storyline of why these characters would need to use them in the first instance, leaving some users frustrated and indignant with the page’s posts which appear to be aimed at pre-schoolers. One user left this comment:
“Quincy, please get off of the Dave & Melody saga! That is not the point! And,when FB uses these examples – Dave & Melody – they are do nothing except talking down – really down to us!”
We can only assume that Facebook has evaluated users privacy levels and is threatened by how many might be keeping more information private.  I certainly can’t think of any other explanation of this about-face from a page which used to post helpful privacy tips on how to post information to only certain friends such as this advice on July 21 2010:
“Have a link to share with work colleagues? Baby photos to share with your family? Facebook Lists make it easy to share content with specific groups of people in your life. Learn how…”
In a video filmed for Time Magazine, Facebook engineers once again made condescending remarks towards users by suggesting that those who haven’t used Facebook’s products as expected such as not uploading as many photos as Facebook perhaps estimates would be shown ‘educational’ instructions on how to do so.
Facebook needs to stop condescending/ manipulating its users just because most have the sense and foresight to use the privacy settings provided, or decide for themselves not to use certain features.  Perhaps these pages should take Facebook’s users privacy and security more seriously and post warnings about which scam links and malware to avoid.  Or perhaps inform all users of the new privacy setting (Customize Settings > Suggest photos of me to friends) defaulted to allow Facebook’s facial recognition software to suggest photos of you to be tagged by friends, instead of using unrealistic examples to persuade users to relax their privacy settings.
What do you think?  Is Facebook’s official Privacy page posting what you feel is appropriate to users privacy, or not?

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