Matt Borud

Facebook and Security: Does it REALLY matter?

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As conferences filled with software engineers and developers saw, Facebook's recent f8 conference ended with a fervor of questions and controversy. Is user security protection at all a priority for Facebook? Does Mark Zuckerberg fundamentally (and mockingly) disagree with the idea of "privacy"? And does anyone, besides a few on the fringe, really even care?

As a college educated, tech-sector employed, target demographic, GEN Y Facebook user, I'd argue that when the chips are down no one really cares about their Facebook privacy as much as those in the TechCrunch/GigaOM sphere want you to believe. We've become so dependent on Facebook as our social lifeline and interaction vehicle that we're not going to be deterred by having to decipher a few (ok, ok a ridiculous amount) labyrinth-like privacy settings to hide your Mexico fishing trip pics from your wife so you can see what your 7th grade girlfriend is doing this weekend. Sure, we like to think when we delete a picture it's been removed from the annals of existence. And of course no one is entirely comfortable knowing that 3rd party marketers have access to the information we're conversing about over email and Facebook. But the reality is we're the ones that have agreed, whether implicitly or directly, to share that information.

We take web security for granted and really have no understanding of the measures in place to protect our information. As much as we pay lip service for better security options, we still pay our bills, buy and sell freely and analyze our finances all by entering our credit card, debit card and bank account information in countless sites across the internet without hesitation nearly every day. We still upload our pictures, update our status, and give our location data away on a daily - sometimes hourly - basis. And we're only going to continue to give more and more information away. We're used to third party ads littering our Gmail messages and spam messages with special offers from sites we've never visited. It's a part of the online experience we've allowed to happen. Pressing Facebook NOW to do more isn't going to change the direction we've already taken.

My friends and I used to joke when someone couldn't come up with a piece information they were looking for that if only there was a medium where information could be found, stored, and exchanged immediately. The internet has provided us with nearly all the world's information at our disposal in real time - so much so that it's difficult to remember what it was like to not know something without being able to pop open my laptop and look it up. Encyclopedias, I guess. It began with general information and has now taken off into our personal information and it's all because we've been more than willing to share nearly all aspects of our life online.

As someone at Balihoo who's tasked daily with providing small business owners (specifically those in the dental marketing industry) with local marketing ideas - how to use Facebook effectively is a topic that comes up often. Everyone is interested in leveraging local internet marketing to better reach their target demographic and connect with users in ways more traditional advertising doesn't allow. I've learned these kinds of concerns don't resonate with the causal Facebook user or advertiser. We're all interested in better connecting with our friends, patients, customers and interests, and regardless of privacy concerns, Facebook still allows you to do that better than any other service available.

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