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Facebook 'erodes any idea of privacy'

Asher Moses (via SMH) | April 8, 2013
Facebook Home for Android phones has been dubbed by technologists as the death of privacy and the start of a new wave of invasive tracking and advertising.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, speaks during an event in Menlo Park, California.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, speaks during an event in Menlo Park, California. Photo: Bloomberg

 

Facebook Home for Android phones has been dubbed by technologists as the death of privacy and the start of a new wave of invasive tracking and advertising.

But given Facebook (and others) already tracks people around the web and even buys data about their offline purchases, has the uproar come too late?

Home - which will be available as a download from Google's Play Store - is viewed as a Facebook takeover of Android and a significant threat to Google, as it puts Facebook's updates, contacts, messaging service, photos and soon, more invasive advertising, directly on to your phone's lock screen and home screen.

As The Verge wrote: "Facebook just put the entirety of the core Android experience inside a blue-tinted, ad-sponsored wrapper, and then hid the wrapper as an app inside Google's own store."

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Almost as soon as Home was announced some users worried that their calls, text messages, location and data from other apps would all be hoovered up. A lot of this data - including location, contacts and calls - Facebook already has access to if you use its existing Android app, while Facebook Messenger asks for permission to read your SMS and MMS.

Prominent tech blogger Om Malik wrote that Home "erodes any idea of privacy". "If you install this, then it is very likely that Facebook is going to be able to track your every move, and every little action," said Mailk.

Ovum telecommunications analyst Jan Dawson said more tracking and ads was "the biggest obstacle to success" for Home. "Users don't want more advertising or tracking, and Facebook wants to do more of both."

Facebook pointed out in a blog post that no one is forced to use Home and the data it collects about your activities and location is similar to that currently collected through the use of the Facebook app or website.

Australian Privacy Foundation board member Mark Walkom told Fairfax that this is exactly what people should be worried about. He said Home "sinisterly" blurred the lines between single-purpose apps likes maps and contacts and lumped them into one big data feed.

"This opens the possibility up for further gross erosions of privacy on unsuspecting users, all in the name of profits, under the guise of social connectivity," he said.

 

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