Facebook's privacy fixes can't cure stupid

Facebook deserves blame for messing with its privacy settings, but people will still embarrass themselves on the Internet

Facebook deserves plenty of blame for messing too much with its privacy settings, but no amount of fixing will stop people from embarrassing themselves on the Internet.

An interesting thing happened in the time since Facebook's privacy fiasco began: The debate moved away from the most recent changes to Facebook's privacy -- allowing select Web sites to automatically tell your Facebook friends what you've been doing on those sites -- and now focuses on changes that are almost six months old.

Suddenly, it seems, users are upset that Facebook wants status updates and friends lists shared with the world. By default, new Facebook users' profiles are set to "everyone," making life on the Internet an open book.

Enter, well, Openbook, the site that exposes just how much people expose on Facebook. PCWorld has covered this site before, making note of the too-much-information that (I hope) users think was kept private. NPR played a different trick, looking for status updates that reference new cell phone numbers and then calling the people who inadvertently broadcast their digits. Openbook supposedly shines a light on the effect of Facebook's privacy changes, but all it really does is show how people can't filter themselves.

There's no doubt that Facebook exacerbated the problem by pushing people towards public sharing of information, but it's a problem that existed long before December 9, when Facebook introduced sweeping changes to its privacy controls. A site called Lamebook, which tracks stupidity and hilarity on Facebook, started in 2008. Humorous lists of Facebook fails predate the changes from six months ago. Even if people keep information within their social circle, they can still make fools of themselves -- and to people that matter in real life, no less.

Later today, Facebook will introduce some privacy changes, giving people an easier way to control what information in their profiles is visible to the rest of the world. The changes may not address complaints about having to opt out of future privacy changes, and they may not provide the level of depth that the people most up in arms about privacy really want. But one thing the changes definitely will not do is make people smarter about what they publish on the Web.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internet privacyFacebookprivacy

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?