I have a personal Facebook account – like millions of us. I mainly have it to keep track of a few family members and old friends who insist on inhabiting Facebook as a surrogate kitchen table for family news. When Facebook was new, I started off strong, accepting invitations from old college chums, colleagues, acquaintances, and family. Soon, I had a little over 200 “friends.” Then Facebook started changing things. What was joyful and sharing became troublesome and suspicious. I “tightened” my privacy settings, removed personal information, and eventually “unfriended” 150 people. I engaged in a virtual game of lifeboat: choosing who was worthy of staying on board, and who would have to swim. But Facebook continued to make subtle and often confusing changes to its policies. I realized that the friend of my friend is sometimes my enemy – or at least not my Facebook friend. When I commented on someone else’s post, or I “liked” a post or website, my information was open to many outside of Facebook.
I know what you’re thinking: “No one ever promised that Facebook – which is FREE – was going to be your own private virtual chat room.” Yes, I get that, but on some level, I think many of us feel tricked. Probably because when we began with Facebook, we had more options to be “private.”
And now there’s more:
“In a few days we’ll be removing an old Facebook setting you’ve used in the past. You’ll see an announcement on Facebook and have several chances to learn about this before then. We just wanted to tell you about this in advance so you have time to review what’s changing and understand your privacy options.
What’s changing: We’re removing an old search setting called “Who can look up your Timeline by name”—but this won’t change who can see what you’ve shared on Facebook.
What did this setting do?
“Who can look up your Timeline by name” controlled who could find your Timeline by typing your name in search.”
Thus began the latest email to Facebook users about changes to a “privacy” setting. In short: like it or not, all users will be searchable now on Facebook. The email goes on to explain how to limit what people can see when they search for you and find you by name. But it was at that point in the email that I stopped paying attention to what I was reading and started thinking about how many times before I’ve gone through this “privacy” charade with Facebook. I’m tired of playing the Facebook shell game. If the word “privacy” is to have any meaning at all, the best thing for me (and all of us who care about that word) to do is quit Facebook.