Quitting time?

May 19, 2010, 11:07 a.m. | By David Tao | 12 years ago

For Facebook CEO and President Mark Zuckerberg, life's been good. Since 2003, he's turned what the Harvard Crimson described as a campus "Hot or Not" website into the world's largest online social network, revolutionizing the way our generation communicates. Thanks to him, we now have new and invaluable ways to, as Entertainment Weekly put it, "stalk our exes" and "bug our friends." According to Microsoft, invaluable equals roughly $15 billion.

Photo: New privacy policies have put the world's most popular social network in hot water. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Zuckerberg has made it from dorm room to boardroom - congratulations. But as we learned from Spider-Man with great power comes great responsibility, and sadly, Zuckerberg seems more intent upon exploiting the information Facebook users have given him than responsibly policing the network he's created. We've covered Facebook's previous issues with privacy, specifically the company's attempts to retain rights to anything and everything you've ever posted to your profile, even after an account deletion. But the company repealed their changes and people kept using their profiles.

Now, a year later, Facebook is caught in another perfect storm of privacy concerns and negative publicity. Their privacy policy now centers on the vaguely-defined issue of Connections. It's unclear what a Connection is, or rather, what a Connection isn't. What's known is that plenty of previously private personal information - education, interests, activities - fall under the Connection category. They stay indexed long after you delete them and according to Facebook's privacy policy, can be "imported, exported, distributed, and redistributed...without privacy limitations."

Not only does this have advocates up in arms, but everyday Facebook users will also be interested in a leaked IM conversation between Zuckerberg and a Harvard classmate, where he calls early users of the social network "dumb f*****". There's also the assertion by an unnamed Facebook employee that Zuckerberg doesn't believe in privacy.

This time people are listening. Millions of people have joined groups protesting Facebook's cavalier attitude towards the protection of our personal information. "Delete facebook account" is now one of the top search queries on Google. Sites such as QuitFacebookDay.com are urging users to quit the network en masse on May 31. Over 3,000 people have already committed.

Deleting your profile might be a little extreme, but as always, use your common sense when deciding what to publish - Facebook will still remember that you "Liked" Justin Bieber and the "Twilight" franchise when you're in your mid-forties.

But also know that the tables will soon be turning. A new movie about Zuckerberg, titled "The Social Network" and helmed by "Fight Club" director David Fincher, is coming to theaters this fall and according to the Times Online, it depicts Facebook's founder as a "ruthless and untrustworthy sex maniac." We'll see how Zuckerburg reacts when it's his privacy being violated.

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