Facebook knows a little too much about its users

Facebook knows a little too much about its users

Facebook has infringed on the Video Privacy Protection Act once again, according to a lawsuit filed by a Texas woman. Mediapost reported that Blockbuster Video is the subject of another lawsuit because it was posting information about a woman’s rental history on her Facebook update page without her written consent. This violates the Video Privacy Protection Act, which states that a company cannot report a person’s rental history and information without gaining consent first.

This is the second lawsuit of this kind involving the controversial Beacon tracking software that Facebook uses, which in essence “tracks” your movements on the Web and reports them back to Facebook, according to Fox News. It seems like Facebook users are constantly battling privacy issues, and this is pretty scary. It almost seems like the Web site knows just a little too much about us.

It’s odd enough to me that Facebook somehow tailors the ads on my page to my exact needs and interests. It’s also a little disconcerting to see an ex-boyfriend pop up on the “suggestions for friends” box every day for several weeks. Are we being watched? Is the information we put on our pages and profiles being used for advertisers’ gain?

According to Yahoo! News, Facebook has updated its privacy policy once again as of last week. According to the article, Vice President of Communications Elliot Schrage said that users’ personal data is not sold for advertising purposes, and users will have more control over who can see their personal photos and updates. However, third parties are allowed to pick characteristics of people they want to advertise to. Still sounds fishy? So maybe they aren’t allowed to “buy” our information, but it seems as though they are getting to know enough about us to target their demographic audience.

I have also noticed that I can view pictures of people who aren’t my friends, but may have a mutual friend. You have to go under “Privacy Settings” to change your settings from the default. You can also decide if you want your Facebook profile to be able to be searched from other Internet search engines.

Blockbuster representatives said that Kathryn Harris, the woman who filed the lawsuit, could have chosen to “opt out” of putting her rental information on her profile. Harris retaliated by saying this shouldn’t be an issue. A similar case is being settled in California and the outcome of that could determine what happens in Texas with the Harris lawsuit. Facebook says it will discontinue use of the Beacon program, but there are still many ways to keep tabs on us.

I just went on my page and changed all my privacy settings, and I recommend you do the same. Though I somehow have a feeling we will still be watched, it makes me feel a little better to know all my friends on Facebook won’t know my every move unless I want them to.

Christi Aldridge is a senior strategic communications major from Hillsboro.