Thursday, July 07, 2011

Privacy or The Lack of It

I value my privacy. Crave it, even.

I know that's hard to believe when I've been blogging for almost six years, have been a participant in message boards for twice as long and the information contained within both is chock-a-block with information that is personal in nature. However, my address and phone number are not out there. I don't want them out there. It's important to me to control what I share, and where I share it.

Especially on Facebook. Even with my security settings customized and many things locked down, I don't feel comfortable with the information on there.

If you are a friend, and a third party wants to contact you, unless I know that you've communicated together on the phone before, I don't give out phone numbers. I'll ask the one party to give me a phone number to pass on to the person they want to reach. It's the respectful thing to do in allowing the third party to grant information as he or she sees fit, right?

Facebook allows a feature that I am not thrilled with, that of 'checking in.' The idea that someone can tell the world where I am without asking me if I want it to be known is one that bothers me. Ed is the only person that can do it without questioning. Call it a vestige of the nine years of the gradually more abusive first marriage, I'm just not comfortable with someone saying where I am. That's MY right and no one else's.

Well, there's a feature of 'Checking in" that has had me in a kerfluffle for the past month because I cannot fix it. Someone had the bright idea of CHECKING IN TO MY HOUSE, with a cute name, but still MY house. The person thought it was cute, showed me the phone with that information as soon as the task was completed and I thought it was funny-because I didn't realize that my actual ADDRESS was posted on Facebook.

Are you as bothered by this as I am?

Anyone can create a location, anywhere, and 'check in' to it. Heck, you can name a place anything you want and check yourself or anyone on your friends list in and there is nothing Facebook will do to ensure it is a legitimate location. The only wrinkle you'll have is the friend who has selected the option of not permitting others to check them in (which is what mine has been changed to, thanks to this situation.)


Later that night, when I realized that said person 'checked me in' to my own house (because it showed up in my status, not because I was told), I got annoyed and removed the check in. It was then that I realized hey, this 'location' has a map that shows my house. To say I was fuming was an understatement. Does this person not recognize that my last name isn't on my blog, that my address and phone are not on Facebook, that I ask permission before tagging pictures? In short, I keep things private?

The task of removing my address fell to me. Except that you can't remove an address listed as a location on Facebook.

Report it, select the option "this is not a business" and the task box comes back with the message 'this information *may* remain p)osted.' In other words, if we feel like it, we'll remove it-but we probably won't. This is Facebook, they're not doing anything they don't want to unless there's enough public outcry.)

Over the past four weeks, I have used every method offered to report said 'location,' save one, but it's still there. Facebook does not offer a way to contact them directly regarding any issue. However, if I found out Mark Zuckerberg's home address and posted it as such on Facebook and pointed every person I know to it, I'm sure that location would disappear lickety split, while my non-business address would still be on there, to anyone who knew what cute term was used.

I reported it tonight as a copyright infringement, the only option I had not used because I'd feared the party who did this would be booted from Facebook. (At this point, my privacy wins out over their ability to stay on Facebook, IMO) Will that finally get this issue resolved? I have no clue. If it does work, I will likely update the blog with the information about what ultimately got my address removed.

This situation just shows me that I'm an 'old fart' for valuing my personal information and keeping it close to the vest, because I definitely see a generational divide in explaining the situation to others. The ones that tell me I'm being over sensitive are much younger than me (say, under 30) They say they wouldn't be bothered if I just gave their phone number to a third person without asking first. I wonder if I actually went and checked myself in at their houses if they'd feel the same about their privacy. (and trust me, I've had visions of making that person's house a 'location', but I won't. I value that person's privacy, even if they don't value mine.)

Bottom line, the Golden Rule is what keeps coming to mind when this unresolved issue comes up. Treat others as you'd want them to treat you. If you don't want people sharing your information, then don't blindly share theirs-with millions of other people.


UPDATE: Yesterday morning, about 12 hours after I sent the report in, I had an email from Facebook, excerpted here:

Hi Suzanne,

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. After reviewing the reported abuse, we have taken appropriate action based on our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. If you believe that any remaining content infringes your intellectual property rights, please visit the following Help Center page for more information:

http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=439

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Johanna
User Operations
Facebook

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On the other hand, the party who did this is mad that I wrote the blog post and commented on Facebook about the situation. Perhaps it will be a different story when there are a family and children to consider...

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