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Cancer is a terrible disease which it has claimed the life of a well known technology journalist and a well known coder within the last couple of weeks. Now Facebook has been diagnosed as being in the final stages of that online cancer which is a disregard for user privacy, and I think it is probably terminal.

The issues have not gone unnoticed by the media, including the DaniWeb news team, with Ron Miller reporting how some people are very unhappy with such things as the recent 'instant personalisation' feature that shares user activities as they move around the web, and Guy Clapperton spotting a story as it was breaking about how the Facebook chat function had been pulled (albeit temporarily) after a coding bug enabled casual users to view your chat activity and see who had applied to be your friend.

I myself have written many times about the issues, about how Facebook insists we can trust it, about the privacy implications of Facebook coding bugs, and even giving the Facebook founder a primer on privacy.

But does anyone really care, you might wonder. After all, Facebook is giant amongst social networking giants, with more than 400 million users. Surely these privacy issues are just a minority interest and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is right when he suggests that online privacy is an outdated social convention? Hell no, how wrong can you be. Ron Miller conducted an, admittedly non-scientific, poll asking Facebook users would leave the service if they could find a credible alternative. A rather worrying, for Facebook, 63 percent said 'Hell ya, in a heartbeat'. Only a measly 3 percent said no way.

The only thing that surprises me is that they have not found that credible alternative in the likes of Twitter, for example. I know I have. I used to be a great Facebook fan, until the privacy melanoma started eating away at the network, destroying the closed network of friends cells and replacing them with an ugly open wound instead. Think I exaggerate a tad, well go take a look at the illuminating 'graphical evolution of Facebook privacy' pie charts and you get an at a glance overview of how privacy has been sidelined from the early days when the visibility of your data was restricted to your friends and your network, through many reclassifications of what is and isn't private to the point where we are today with the service being driven by the whole notion of a social graph and, one has to deduce, the marketing value attached to it. You might also want to visit the EFF timeline of privacy policy changes at Facebook which highlights excerpts it's privacy policies over the years. As the EFF says "watch closely as your privacy disappears, one small change at a time".

The US Federal Trade Commission has commented on a complaint filed against Facebook that accuses it of unfair and deceptive trade practices for the automatic disclosure of user data which those users had not previously made public. The FTC has not dismissed this complaint as rabble rousing by sandal wearing beardies, but instead has stated that the changes appear to "violate user expectations" and "diminish user privacy".

My cure for this cancer has been the methodical removal of my personal data, regular visits to the options section to ensure the bare minimum of folk get to see my business, and a slow withdrawal from the network. Indeed. I rarely post anything on Facebook any more. It's no great loss to me as I'm not too interested in pretending to be a farmer or a Mafia family member, have no pressing concerns if my taste in movies is better or worse than my friends, and can see what the majority of my network of friends are up to on Twitter as most of them cross-post everything between the two services anyway.

Unfortunately my cure is not working, and as I hate to see anything suffer such a slow and painful death as this I feel there is only one course of action left: to put it out of its misery.

You might have noticed a poll attached to this story, it is your chance to determine the fate of Facebook. Or at least my longstanding Facebook account. Yes or No, should I commit Facebook suicide?

Edited by happygeek: n/a

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by goodtaste
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No you shouldn't leave facebook. You should remain and continue to highlight it's flaws and evil for the less technically savvy

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Facebook will gradually loose market share. I think in 2-3 years we should see the next greatest social network take over the market. Or it could grow into a fragmented widget/app market... going to be interesting!

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I really don't see the FB thing declining yet...
All the latest IMers are plugging it left, right and centre as THE answer to marketing, getting enormous lists immediately and making "BIG BUCKS" in 24 hours... you know the hype.
It may be tat FB is on the crest of a big wave at the moment and it peaks, but if the first 'warning' of this was 2004, and now in 2010 it has got so HUGE, I think the prediction was somehow off target.
I personally (recently got enthusiastic and active via smartphone app, after slow activity for several years) am finding new avenues of communication and potential for growth and, always wary of the Join the "Get out of Jail free" or whatever the latest waste of time is!!!
BR

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So far, I haven't seen him die yet. But I think, in 2 to 3 years, facebook will be replaced by another social networking site like Tumblr.

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I know people who are mad at Facebook because their posts do not show up on the newsfeed as much as when they first started their accounts there, and they feel that if you do not pay for an ad or sponsor a post, nobody sees it. Therefore, they are going to places where their stuff can be seen, such as Pinterest and Instagram. Personally, I don't have an ax to grind, but I wonder if this whole social media thing goes in cycles, and if places just have to change all the time in order to roll with the punches.

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