Facebook Goes a Bit More Public

By Virginia Breen

Jul 12, 2009 7:00am

ABC News on Campus reporter Maxine Park blogs:

Your privacy on Facebook just got a little less private.

The company announced that it has begun making a user’s status messages, photos and videos visible to the general public by default instead of being visible only to a user’s select friends.

Gone are the days of “private by default.” Now your messages and what you may or may not have done last Saturday night can be seen by the world¬–– unless you change it.

Some Arizona State University students weren’t surprised by the move. Sophomore journalism major Lisa Diaz believed it was bound to happen.

"It's not really a big deal because most of the users on Facebook have had MySpace at one point and MySpace is public until you change it,” Diaz said. “Once you put information on Facebook, you should already be conscious of the fact that you're putting it in a public domain and act as if the whole world can see it."

Stephen Cornelison, a senior majoring in history and economics, said he’s always cautious when it comes to social networking sites.

“You have to use common sense about what you put on it,” Cornelison said. “It’s the Internet and you can’t assume anything is private.”

But not to worry.  Facebook is taking things slow and rolling out this automatic “public message feature” only to those who have already set their profiles as public.

It will, however, affect everyone soon enough.

Meredith Chin, a Facebook spokeswoman, said this new public message setting is all about freedom of choice."We

are giving people a choice as to what they would like published,” Chin said. “We are not changing the profiles to be public by default.”

In the meantime, the company is testing new privacy controls, which will let users specify which people see which status updates or photos they post. So each time you publish a message, a drop down menu on the side will let you decide who gets to see what. So now you can remind friends about a surprise party for Anne, without letting her know about it.

For now, the new controls are only available to about 80,000 users in the United States. But with most people unaware of the soon-to-be public default for all messages, senior Kiara Williams said it’s best to just be prepared.

“I feel that by being part of a social networking site, this is something users should expect, and though we are all allowed free speech, people have utter control on what they allow themselves to publish or say,” said Williams, who is majoring in Chinese. “I don't absolutely agree with it, because I'm a very private person myself, but we all agree to the privacy terms when we sign up. There's not much we can do to rectify it anyway, whether we like it or not.”

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus