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Facebook Tiptoes Past Privacy Policy on Its Way to World Domination

Facebook has been on a business tear. Not only did it acquire a career recruiting service, which should make business social network LinkedIn very nervous, but Facebook is also driving to become the media's social network of choice.

And yet, at the same time, Facebook continues to change its operations and site to better make its advertisers and business partners happy, no matter how unpopular similar actions have been in the past among users and privacy regulators. It's an amazing dichotomy -- one so stark that you might wonder if Facebook actually suffers from some corporate version of multiple-personality disorder.

Facebook wants to take over the virtual world. Literally. Look at some of the activities it's currently pursuing:

And yet, how many times in the past has Facebook tripped by angering people and regulators over privacy issues? Or even irritated users with changes in format and functions without any coherent argument of why doing things differently made sense? Here are just some current examples:
  • Facebook plans to resume sharing addresses and mobile phone numbers with applications. Sure, someone would have to click a button allowing the use of data, but how often do people click things, not realizing exactly what is going on, or even doing so accidentally by hitting the space bar or enter key?
  • The company plans to replace the Share button with the Like button. Click Like on a story and suddenly the headline, thumbnail image, and blurb appear on your profile wall. Previously, you had to click the Share button. It's clearly an attempt to keep media companies happy with more pervasive promotion of their work, but a lot of people won't like it. And what happens if you "like" a commercial site or product? Do ads appear?
  • Facebook has also literally updated its privacy policy to make it "simpler, more interactive." But look at how the company says it uses customer data and see that it gives three seemingly innocuous examples and fails to note how much further using information "in connection with ... the advertisers that purchase ads on the site, and the developers that build the games, applications, and websites you use" can go.
Facebook constantly comes across as an inherently sneaky company, always trying to slip something past users and governments. The company wants to take over the world. And it just might -- if it and its business partners don't tick off consumers and regulators so quickly and completely that legislation doesn't stop things cold.


Image: Flickr user DieselDemon, CC 2.0.
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