The Common Good

Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Well, they're at it again. In the April issue of Sojourners I wrote about the joys and potential pitfalls of Facebook: On one hand, users get to see baby pictures, catch up with old friends, talk about the weather, and take increasing glee in hitting the "hide" button for things like Mafia Rodeo. (If that's not a FB game yet, it should be. Because I'd love to hide it.)

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On the other hand, Facebook is persistently pushing more and more of users' information into the Internet marketplace without asking permission. The most recent round of selling privacy down the river has been touted as increasing "connectivity" between users and outside Web sites, and possibly that nice hacker down the street.

Except of course, hacking isn't required when Facebook is already peeling back the walls around your information like a tangerine.

Many of us joined Facebook in the first place because it offered relatively tight information controls to the user and tended toward asking permission before making things public-you opted in if you were ok with sharing more information with more people. Now the default privacy controls are often wide open, and it's up to the user to opt out of sharing information (when not sharing is even an option).

This handy infographic, based on one by Matt McKeon, illustrates how Facebook has changed its face. And this PCWorld blog post explains some of the latest Facebook "innovations"-and how to block them.

Julie Polter is an associate editor at Sojourners.

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