The latest scam of the dictators technologists at Facebook is the attempt to lock users into another walled garden – Facebook Questions. And, once again, there is a huge opportunity for Facebook to dupe users about privacy.
The plan is to make your questions and answers completely public. Everyone on Facebook will have complete access to anything you say or do on Facebook Questions. There will be no restriction of your words or thoughts to just your friends. The comment that Facebook has no plan “at this time” to make the Questions content available to search engines is like a HUGE BILLBOARD WARNING SIGN.
Facebook have done this before. Facebook have said you have privacy and then opened various doors so they can sell user profile information to advertisers. Facebook allow apps to harvest information about you and all your friends – even friends who believe they have private settings in place.
When Facebook users were first given the option to have their profiles show up in search engine listings, it had nothing to do with “people search” opportunities for users. It was purely commercial – Facebook needed to get its content ranked high in search engine queries to boost traffic. Facebook were desperate to be near the top of the front page of a Google search query.
This current stance of Facebook to say that 500 million users is sufficient to make Questions a go-to feature is really a thinly disguised attempt to keep its users away from other sites. The sites Facebook will be most worried about include Wikipedia and Google, now that the Facebook privacy leaks have become very much in the public domain and featured on news bulletins around the world. The attempts by Facebook to sweep pedo complaints under the carpet have also been documented.
The initial impression by Facebook users could be a sense they are in a safe web space, surrounded by family and friends, with Granny Facebook protecting them from all the nasty things out there in the real world. Instead there is a real threat the answers, especially, will be loaded and biased and numerically hijacked – just like the recent revelation about the way Digg has been corrupted beyond repair.
Longer term dangers will emerge when Facebook “changes its mind” and allows Facebook Questions to be made available to search engines. Every query and answer by users – of whatever age and about whatever topic – could become available. This information will provide such accurate profile “indicators” that it could become extremely easy for advertisers, criminals and/or governments to search for age, politics, health issues, music preferences, sexual preferences and even religious preferences. The dangers are too obvious – there is no need to spell them out.