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A valuable lesson from Randi Zuckerberg: Online privacy is complicated (gigaom.com)
43 points by iProject 1759 days ago | hide | past | web | 44 comments | favorite

As an avid FB/Twitter/Instagram/everything user, privacy is not a hard problem to deal with: if you put something on the internet, assume that everyone will see it and know it's you. It's as simple as that.

This applies to your job search, family photos, embarrassing music, nude photos, and just about anything else. If you don't want it to be seen by the world, don't share it. At the end of the day, your privacy is your responsibility.

Wow I hate this view of the future. My family photo albums are for the people in my living room to see. I really want the digital equivalents of them to be the same, and feel like pushing the paradigm in that direction is valuable.

This "well the future just sucks, DEAL WITH IT!" mentality that I see parroted here on HN so often is disgusting.

Online is broken. Let's fix it, and let's champion anybody else who is trying to fix it.

It's even broken in trivial ways. Sure, sharing a pic with one's friends raises the risk of someone sharing it on Twitter, but that is super simple to do. Right click, Save Image As..., Upload, Browse, OK. Here are 2 little technical things to do:

* Make the browser technology slightly less happy to assume that displaying a picture means that the viewer has all the rights to download it for his/hers own use. Take out "Save Image As...", perhaps if a "private" attribute is set on the image.

* Make Facebook technology display more clearly what is the audience of a given item. Yeah, that means spelling in clear if the image is available for advertisers as well.

Given this little two steps, "accidentally" posting a private image to Twitter becomes less of an excuse. You took the action of taking a screen snapshot (or camera pic) of something explicitly labeled as private and posted it for a public audience. That sucks and may be even be grounds for legal action under copyright law.

That's an easy if weak way to deal with a human reality and the failures of tech design to accommodate it. How does it work for information about me that other people gather? Like medical records? Is that my responsibility as well?

How does it work for information about me that other people gather? Like medical records? Is that my responsibility as well?

Or camera phone video of you doing something totally legal, like badmouthing 47% of the country to your friends at a dinner.

That isn't a technology problem, it is a people problem.

That isn't a technology problem, it is a people problem

== & That's why we cant have nice things

    if you put something on the internet, assume that everyone
    will see it and know it's you. It's as simple as that.
So if I submit my credit card information to Amazon, which is part of the Internet, I should assume that everyone will see my credit card information? It's as simple as that? That's good to know. Thanks for your help.

That is completely false. You do not control your privacy on the internet. You can choose to never have an email account, never sign up for any social networking site, etc, and these companies will still build a profile for you and collect tagged pictures of you and learn as much as they can about you.

Privacy on the internet is definitely a hard problem. Don't dismiss it because you have a simplistic perspective and trust other companies to understand that you don't want to have a presence on the internet. They don't care.

So you just set everything on facebook, etc. to be public?

I guess that's one approach. Personally, I'm always aware there is a risk that the things I put online will be publicly exposed at some point, but I treat it like any other risk: I evaluate the likelihood that it will happen, and make decisions from there. I don't think that risk can ever be zero, but there are ways to make it smaller, and I think that's the perspective most people are coming from.

I don't set everything to public, but I assume that anything I put onto the internet will be available to anyone who wants it, forever. It's the only sane way to use this technology.

I do set everything on Facebook to be public. That way I don't need to worry about the inevitable bugs and misfeatures that make things public when you think they aren't.

What about other people posting photos of you? The problem becomes a lot harder when everybody is posting photos of everybody else. It gets even harder if they do so in a malicious manner. e.g. ex-boyfriend posting naked photos of you that you didn't know he had. old frenemies posting photos they took of you and tagging it with 'cheating bitch'. etc.

Fair enough, but what about other people's actiona regarding you? I might not say a thing about that sweet party I was at the other night, but what if my friend snaps a photo and tags me, like in the story here? I haven't delved into the settings in a while, but I think there should be an option to manually approve any tags made of you. That way there's some degree of control over friends who excessively document everything.

> but I think there should be an option to manually approve any tags made of you.

There is.

How to deal with privacy: pretend it doesn't exist.

I think a better solution for controlling privacy on the Internet is - not using the Internet.

And by that I mean that it seems very hard to make anything private on the Internet, and it's becoming increasingly harder, instead of easier.

I think there's opportunity here for start-ups to solve this problem to allow you to better control privacy on the Internet. And when I say controlling privacy on the Internet, I mean keeping it private from the company itself, the users you don't want to share with, and government, too.

Feels like marketing to me. All of the necessary items are there:

     "Important FB person" : "The sister.", 
     "Reporter" : "The lady on twitter", 
     "media" : "the \"private\" photo on FB", 
     "friendly resolution" : "reporter took it down", 
     "what is being sold" : "The Poke"
Of course, they will never admit to it. Viral marketing usually follows a very precise pattern.

It's complicated because advertising companies profit from networks that are open and visible.

Facebook's privacy controls used to be very straight-forward and easy to use. Starting with Beacon, etc. Facebook's strategy has been to make it as complicated and time-consuming as possible in the hopes that you will just acquiesce and allow them to profit from your personal information and online social interactions.

Facebook's made a lot of mistakes but I disagree with you pretty completely here. It doesn't help your case that Facebook just last week released a new dedicated privacy menu that is exceedingly nice, simple, straightfoward. It goes out of its way to summarize your privacy settings for you.

I'm not sure I agree completely with either of you.

Instead, I prefer to not attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity. Or too many people deploying features willy-nilly.

It could also be a business model that is unwieldy to implement.

Or a business model that is fundamentally based on exploiting your personal information.

Of course, but maintaining the perception that it's harmless to continue to contribute it is the hard part.

> To be fair to Facebook, figuring these kinds of nuances out isn’t easy

God damn it, it is called ACLs. Not exactly a rocket, or even computer science.

The problem here is the picture was originally shared with someone who had permission to see it. That person then saved the file to their machine, and re-posted it to twitter.

That is not a technological problem.

The person who did all this was not supposed to see the original picture. The whole thing happened because of sharing, tagging and mutual friends. It is a technological problem.

Oh yeah, and ACLs are so easy to apply and maintain ....

Ironically, I first ready that abbreviation as CIA, which may be appropriate as well.

Is this guerrilla marketing for their new "Poke" app?

That was my first thought. The picture is quite expressive.

The photo wouldn't have been posted to Facebook then..

The hypocrisy is strong with this one.

While I have never had an FB account, nor shall I, I find these situations all laughable at how pompous the FB 'elite' are.

How do you tell if someone doesn't have Facebook?

They'll tell you.

I feel that it is contextually relevant when I am commenting on FB related stories. It is not as I am bragging as much as it is a disclosure of my perspective.

I don't see how your perspective is relevant when you aren't even making a substantial contribution.

Yet we still learn that you like Star Wars a lot.


I don't recall posting anything Star Wars related on HN pretty much ever...

Are you sure you're not confusing me with someone else? Or are you recalling a post I can't right now?

"The...is strong with this one," is a Star Wars reference.

It seems narcissistic for you to think the rest of us are concerned in your social network membership statuses, solely because you posted a couple of sentences vaguely related to an article about Facebook.

Pardon me, but I've got to get back to not watching the television I don't have.

A valuable lesson from Callie Schweitzer: Do whatever you want with whatever you find.

I'm not sure that a fair characterization of her motive, not at least as she tweeted her apology:

"@randizuckerberg I'm just your subscriber and this was top of my newsfeed. Genuinely sorry but it came up in my feed and seemed public."

Screenshot source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jpmoore/mark-zuckerbergs-sister-comp...

I wasn't speaking to her motive, only the act. Do what you naturally want to do with whatever enters your sphere of attention. It's not our job to run FB's security, so not a second thought should be given to anything that slips through.


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