Response to Kelly Hart’s “A Flashy Facebook Page, at a Cost to Privacy” from the Washington Post

Kim Hart expresses Facebook’s statement in her news article: “More than 95 percent of Facebook users have installed at least one application” (Hart). She also writes about Adrienne Felt’s research showing that “90 percent of the [150 most popular] applications have unnecessary access to private data” (Hart). This equates to the point that Facebook users’ private information is being exposed to application developers who do not actually need the information for the purpose of the application. The users voluntarily choose to share their information with the application, and resultantly its developers, but often users do not think about the possible consequences of sharing this information. Releasing personal information to anyone, and especially application developers who generally understand technology well enough to hack, could lead to identity theft, stalking, and even more serious crimes. As a way to prevent these unfortunate happenings, Facebook users, the company of Facebook, and application developers should act more responsibly.

In this dilemma, Facebook is the central point for information exchange. Because it is the center of the issue, and ultimately the reason why the information can be exchanged in the first place, Facebook should be held most accountable for responsible privacy protection. In order to counter the privacy concerns, Facebook could constitute a website-wide awareness for sharing excessive information. The company might explain the benefits and drawbacks to specific privacy settings when the users select their privacy levels. Facebook could also look into evaluating applications and their pull of information before the applications are released to public users. The director of Facebook’s platform, Ben Ling, explained that there are privacy restrictions in place for applications, but “swift enforcement” does not occur until Facebook finds a violation (Hart). By halting potential applications before (instead of after) the public can share unnecessary information as well as educating users about the dangers of information sharing, Facebook will strengthen the privacy and safety of its users.

Hart, Kim. “A Flashy Facebook Page, at a Cost to Privacy.” Washington Post 12 Jun 2008, n. pag. Web. 20 May. 2013.


4 thoughts on “Response to Kelly Hart’s “A Flashy Facebook Page, at a Cost to Privacy” from the Washington Post

  1. You made so many great points! I appreciate how you not only laid out the problem, but you also presented several reasonable solutions, all of which I agree with. I cannot believe that Ben Ling admits that Facebook does not look into application privacy until after more serious offenses! That’s ridiculous! However, I do not believe that any one party is directly responsible. In fact, I believe that all involved are to blame. Application developers have absolutely no reason to acquire the personal information of their users. Facebook should keep these applications on a tighter leash, working with these companies to create a compromise that favors all participants. And finally, Facebook users themselves should become more aware of the limitations of social media privacy, thinking twice before they play a game of Farmville.

    • Thanks Ashton! I agree that multiple parties are to blame for the privacy issues, but I do think Facebook is most responsible because they manage the medium through which the information is exchanged. However, the application developers should also hold higher integrity and users should be less naive when paying Farmville on Facebook.

  2. I would have to agree with many of your points that you made. I think that you did a wonderful job at pointing out many problems with Facebook’s privacy limits, and that you followed up those points with wasy to reslove the issues. I have always thought that no one could actuallty see my information, because I set my profile to only show specific people. Until reading your blog I would have continued to use applications on Facebook without even thinking twice about the application developer having access to my information. The other comment in your blog that surprised me was about Ben Ling doesn’t investigate the application privacy. I honestly would think that, that would be the first thing he would do just for the safety of his users. After reading that people need to become more cautious about who might be seeing their information just from a Facebook game.

    • Thanks! It’s sad when corporations put profits ahead of user safety, but its unfortunately pretty common. Consumers need to demand more corporate transparency to encourage business to uphold social corporate responsibility.

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