Facebook's position close to the bottom of the Privacy International rankings is surprising as the the two well publicised principles of Facebook state that :-
"You have control over personal information. and You have access to information others want to share."
"When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content."Read that again, slowly and out loud if it helps and concentrate on the sentence that says when you post something (anything) on the site you grant
"to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing."Which means, I think that once you write something on Facebook it is no longer yours, it's theirs. If you value your thoughts, Facebook is not the place for exploring or discussing original ideas.
What particularly interested me about this section was an additional sentence which states
"Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (e.g., photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalized experience."That's a third type of information they might collect, information that they might actively go out and search for based on what they know about you already.
It seems that signing up to Facebook implies granting permission for the possibility of data mining and data matching. Social networking in cyberspace comes with risks that might equal those found in meatspace.
In the world of social software Facebook has an impressive record of growth, an enormous and growing user group, and with its recent changes of policy the opportunity to become far more than a facilitator of networks. The Facebook garden is a truly beautiful thing to see, we must take care that we don't get trapped behind it's walls.
It is my belief that we need to think carefully about Facebook. As a provider or enabler of social networking it does just what it says on the box, as providers or facilitators of formal and informal learning we need to consider whether to open the box.