Facebook, Privacy, And How It’s Affecting Facebook's (and Marketers’) Future

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It’s no secret that Facebook is facing a privacy backlash. . . again.  Headlines ask if Facebook is at a tipping point, and many people give Facebook low grades for the way it has handled user privacy.

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Are You Re-Thinking Facebook?

Facebook is currently the world's most popular social media site, with over 400 million users. Long-plagued by accusations of security leaks and lackluster privacy practices, the corporation is currently defending itself against a barrage of new criticism. CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave an interview earlier this year arguing that privacy is no longer a "social norm." Facebook privacy policies have been rapidly shifting to reflect this position.

The latest firestorm centers around a new feature called "instant personalization," a targeted advertising service that supplies personal user data to advertising partners like Pandora and Microsoft Docs. All Facebook accounts were included in this service when it was rolled out, and opting out is a convoluted, multi-step process. In a move that some users are calling deliberately deceptive, simply clicking an "opt out" check box does not protect your user data from being shared.

So far, the beta service is limited to three corporate partners — all of whom have promised not to behave inappropriately with the shared user data — but the feature is slated to be expanded over time. This puts millions of user accounts and their personal information at the mercy not just of Facebook, but of the ethics of every company that becomes an instant personalization partner in the future.

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How Have You Responded To Facebook's Recent Privacy Changes And Breaches? [POLL]

Facebook announced new Open Graph and Instant Personalization features at the F8 conference on April 21, 2010.  Since that time, several privacy bugs have been found and patched. 

All of this has resulted in greater awareness about privacy issues on Facebook.  Some have predicted that Facebook might lose users as people delete their accounts out of fear or frustration about their data being shared or exposed. 

So, how have Facebook's changes and news affected you personally on Facebook?  Have you made any changes or altered your behavior on Facebook as a result?  Please participate in the poll below.  (Your data will, of course, be kept confidential.)  Thanks. 

You will find the poll in the right column of this page, below the "About the Analyst" or "About this Blog" section.

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