Facebook: Does Privacy Really Exist?

This blog post by Socialnomics author Eric Qualman is a bit dated, but it was bookmarked from an old discussion I had with friends that resurfaced again this past week: Internet privacy. Specifically, Facebook privacy.
Don’t get me wrong,  I’m a strong advocate for the marvels of the internet and all its instant gratification glory. However, after our class ice-breaker exercise and the cheerful little tidbits Pelpina discovered from my high school Xanga page 7 years ago, I got to thinking about whether or not the internet is a friend or a foe.
I remember when I first signed up for Facebook back in the days when it was only accessible to college students with a verified college e-mail address. No high-schoolers. No parents. No third cousins, twice removed. There weren’t Facebook ads profiling my every update (seriously, doesn’t placing ads for Christian online dating and STD testing on my page seem a little counterintuitive?).
Now, every time I log on to Facebook, I’m acutely aware that whatever I update my status with will be available to old coworkers, bosses, teachers, and acquaintances. They may be my Global Village, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I want them to see the picture my friend posted of me after a few drinks! I’m aware that Facebook does have privacy settings, but – and this is just my opinion – I find them incredibly difficult to navigate.
Qualman’s blog post talks about how Facebook has come such a long way in attaining new users and making the daily functions of Facebook easy to use for all ages. However, in terms of privacy settings, there is still a lot left to be desired.
For example, you can make “lists” of friends and block them from certain things on your profile.  In my case, I have my relatives blocked from seeing my status updates (simply because they abused their commenting powers), but that means they are now blocked from the entire “Wall” section of my profile. They can’t see things my friends post, groups I join, comments I make. Plus, by not being able to see the entire “Wall” section, they can clearly tell that they’ve been consciously blocked. This could create awkward moments in situations where you might block your nosy coworker or friend-of-a-friend. 
My suggestion for Facebook would be to come up with a way of being able to block people from elements of my Wall, without blocking them from my entire Wall. Maybe this already exists? If so, please enlighten me!
How do you feel about privacy settings on Facebook? Are there any recommendations you would suggest to Zuckerberg and the rest of the staff at FB? Do you have block lists set up for certain friends?


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