Online Privacy: Blame Facebook

Take down your home address, remove your SIN and delete those incriminating photos


It seems we’re all taking a lesson from our beloved Toronto mayor in failing to read the fine print. (See Miller’s Illiteracy: Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.)


And, staying true to our national heritage, we’ve decided to blame The Man. Today’s target: Facebook. That evil, information-hoarding, corporate lackey serving troughs to capitalistic insatiability. Or something.

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart posted her concerns in a report released Thursday. Stoddard says that Facebook does not comply with Canadian privacy laws and gives the company 30 days to amend procedures. Subsequently, the case can be brought to the Federal Court to force Facebook to tighten its policies.

Chief concerns include third party access to user information (via games, quizzes, etc.) and Facebook’s retention of personal information after users have closed their accounts.

…Well boo hoo. Cue the violins.

To me, the approach is baffling. Let’s spend lots of money bringing a case to Federal Court that could so easily be solved by telling our 14-year-olds not to post photos of themselves drinking Smirnoff Ices and making out with their best friends. No, the lesson: deflect blame, and you shall prosper.

To be pitifully cliché, it’s my opinion that privacy in an information age is an illusion. There are breaches everywhere—when you use your credit card, fill out survey or attend a public event or club. Chances are, if you don’t remember what happened last night, can refresh your memory.

It’s not an Orwellian prediction come true or an international intelligence conspiracy; it’s idiots like Ray Lam forgetting to de-tag his photos. So take down your home addresses, remove your SINs and delete those incriminating bachelor party photos. It’s time to come to terms, dear disgruntled, anonymous commenter, that if I really want to, I can probably find out your name. So be nice.


Online Privacy: Blame Facebook

  1. So.. you’re approach is to have parents actually parent their children? Sorry, but I think that the government regulation approach is likely going to happen first.

  2. I say let the 14 year olds have their pictures plastered all over the internet. When they’re 23 and can’t get a job because of them, it’ll be a lesson learned.

  3. I don’t understand why people do not limit their pictures and profile to just friends.

  4. Somehow you conflated two opposing arguments: 1) that people should be careful lest they look silly, and 2) privacy doesn`t really exist, therefore caution is effective. You illustrated point number one by referring to a Ray Lam, and number two by threatening to uncover my identity.

    Which argument do you believe?

  5. I think you’ve missed the point, Hopes. As the blogger aptly puts it, privacy in the technological age is anything but strong. It is for this reason that one must be extra vigilant and careful when choosing to display any part of their life online. If not, they simply risk being caught with their pants down (Lam pun intended).

    Parents have always had the responsibility of protecting their child from harm. However in the past, this warning was almost always with respect to physical harm. In this day and age, unfortunately, parents have an extra responsibility, a responsibility to inform their child of the “technological dangers” that lurk out there.

  6. I know what she meant, Matthew. But half of what she says doesn`t support the other half. E.g., when she says there are “breaches everywhere”, don`t you think that suggests that most, or any, attempts at securing privacy are futile?

    You`re probably right, but she`s isn`t helping herself by implying such things.

  7. Hi Hopes,

    I appreciate your comment, though I think it’s fallacious to conclude that because personal information is sometimes shared (without consent), all attempts at privacy are futile. Just because, for example, credit card companies may spill the beans on where you shop, doesn’t mean everyone on the web has to know you threw up on your shoes last weekend.