Monday, May 3, 2010

Facebook users risk blackmail

Everyone who follows this blog knows that I do not like the way Facebook pretends to protect our privacy. But my statements pale in comparison to what Jennifer Stoddart, Canada's Privacy Czar, has to say. In a story in the Globe and Mail she says:
“I’m very concerned about these changes. More than half a million developers will have access to this data. The information will be stored indefinitely and it opens the possibility that a lot of people can be blackmailed from all corners of the world.”

That's a pretty strong assertion. I'm not sure how real a danger that is, but I understand her concern. It's embodied in another quote regarding how well Facebook is living up to the promise it made to the Canadian government to better protect members privacy. After the privacy changes announced last week she said, “They certainly seem to be moving in the opposite direction."

It's true that the constant privacy policy rewrites by Facebook would be better called 'personal publicity faciliators'. And with the odd, bewildering, and downright idiotic things that people post on Facebook blackmailable data will probably be posted by more than a few people. But once it's been posted to Facebook, how much of a lever can it be for blackmail?