Quit Facebook ifprivacy is a concern

I deactivated my Facebook a few weeks ago. Fortunately, it was before the website implemented new changes that make all users’ profile information publically available by default. This includes name, age, likes, status updates, group memberships and even sexual orientation.

The social networking site, which has nearly 500 million users worldwide and is projected to make $1 billion in revenues this year, now has a privacy policy longer than the U.S. Constitution. Some of the changes have alarmed users who prefer their privacy.

If we’re not supposed to feel safe posting our information on Facebook, there’s no point having a profile on the site. Users worried about privacy should delete or deactivate their accounts.

April’s revision was met with Federal Trade Commission complaints about Facebook’s frequent changes. Facebook has continually reduced user privacy since 2005, and the latest changes prove it can’t be trusted with our information.

Understandably, many users are concerned. A poll by a U.K.-based Internet-security firm, Sophos, found that more than 45 percent of surveyed users have either already quit Facebook or have serious plans to do so. “How do I delete my Facebook account?” is a popular query on Google.

The privacy changes and backlash are unfortunate because Facebook had great potential. It played a valuable role in enhancing Iranian protesters’ communication last year. However, after the changes, many Iranians have fallen victim to government crackdowns, and others have had to delete their accounts when their information went public.

But they’re not the only ones who could be seriously affected by Facebook’s disregard for its users. A site at youropenbook.org allows anybody to see all public status updates. Searches yield embarrassing and often compromising information that could endanger relationships and careers.

“I’m going to bed … at 7 a.m.. I hate my job,” wrote one Facebook user from Ardmore, Okla., on Sunday.

“People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people,” Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg said. “That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”

This presumptive attitude suggests the company may escalate its privacy invasions in the future. While it’s possible to negate the recent privacy changes by manually updating settings, trying to keep up with Facebook’s constant modifications is ridiculous.

I wouldn’t take my friends on a cruise in a leaky ship. Likewise, I wouldn’t try to connect with them on a leaky site like Facebook. More than 13,000 users have already agreed to delete their accounts on May 31, and more should consider doing the same at quitfacebookday.com.

Neil Manimala is a junior majoring in biomedical sciences.