Facebook or Disgracebook? The Social Networking Sight Settles Privacy Dispute

You can not deny the power of social media. However, ironically, Facebook is one of the top ten most hated companies (zdnet). Clearly it is a love/hate relationship that exists because the numbers aren’t going down, but the grumbles are undoubtedly going up. Most of the frustrations coming from consumers had to do with the privacy issues surrounding the site. Today, Facebook finally settled their privacy dispute with the FTC as discussed in this article. However, for many consumers the damage first began with charges that the company rolled out upgrades that overrode users’ privacy settings without obtaining their consent and shared their private information with third-party apps and advertisers. I know, I know, you’re going to try and convince me that nothing is private anymore, but the fact of the matter is, consumers felt they had autonomy over their social network settings. As Organizational Behavioral theories would argue, consumers felt they had perceived control.

The allegations were incredibly serious and had the potential to be detrimental the sight (as made evident by the sight’s approval rating). “The complaint also contends that Facebook made personal information available to advertisers in instances between September 2008 and May 2010, alleging that advertisers could access identifying details about users who clicked on their ads, along with other facts, like their browsing history” (zdnet). My advice to Facebook?  Steer clear of what I would like to call the Lindsay Lohan Effect. You are not the exception. Ms. Lohan has believed she is above the law, untouchable if you will, and while the laws of social media may be a victim of an intense cultural lag, the principles are the same. Facebook is not a monopoly and as much power as the currently hold, they too are susceptible to a younger, prettier, more talented actress (in the case of Lindsey Lo) or a younger, prettier,  “safer” social media site. If the risk is not worth the reward, we will revolt.

Currently, it looks like what some would call Disgracebook will go back to being the ever-successful Facebook that we all know and love, but let’s hope that the site learned an important lesson here. They may have dodged a bullet for now, but live, learn, and then get private. For now, the resolution is as stands: “To consumers, be assured that Facebook should seek your consent before overriding your privacy settings,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. Facebook is subject to a $16,000 fine per violation per day if it fails to comply with the terms of the order. In addition to obtaining users’ explicit consent before making changes that override their existing privacy settings Facebook must institute a privacy program that’s required to be audited by a third-party company every two years for 20 years.”

What’s the lesson? Shape up or ship out. Even though you are currently king does not mean you will have the thrown forever. What do you think? “Faze”book or Facebook?