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Webby wonders

Facebook volte-face: wake-up call for users

It’s a good wake up call for many of us. How many times have you stopped to read the small print when all you want to do is see your mates’ embarrassing party photos? I, for one, have been lax and I know I’m not alone. When you sign up to Facebook you give them the right to share your information that you input – you have to, or the concept would fall down.

So today, founder Mark Zuckerberg has reneged on his plans for what his company Facebook plans to do with our personal data. Mark and co rewrote the terms and conditions to say that they will keep your information more or less forver although he says on his blog post about it “we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want.” Oh OK. And how are the parameters defined?

In this interview with the BBC, copyright lawyer Magnus Boyd (he’s been a busy boy – see him speaking about this here too) says: “People have woken up to availability of personal data. Too often we dont read the terms and conditions – we simply click and get on with our lives.”

He’s right. He’s also right that it was short sighted of Facebook not to facilitate a wider consultation about this before announcing. In another BBC video, as if we don’t feel silly enough, author of Cyburbia James Harkin tells us “we’ve been naive.” Sorry James.

Time for the owners of social networking sites to crank up the font size on that smallprint and as Harkin says, as part of an “emerging etiquette” that means it’s also time for us to “grow up and realise that any info we input into these systems is entirely public.”

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