The Facebook Flap over privacy shows that the Gen Y cohort may be just as worried about controlling their own data as their Boomer parents. For a while there, it seemed that Gen Y believe in a No-Privacy rule and didn’t care who owned the numbers in their lives—or perhaps even more importantly, the images. The uproar over Facebook’s new policy on ownership of peoples’ posts, unleashed by the consumerist blog, shows the contrary.
Good. It is important for social media—all media—to understand that people need to control access to their private information. Let’s facebook it, retaining rights to content after users leave is pretty outrageous. I don’t know if other social media sites do that. Can people check? It just never occurred to me that once I left a site, all my content remained and could be sold, exchanged or given to the government.
The Facebook Fiasco comes at a critical moment when the Obama administration is launching a major effort to digitalize medical records in an effort to cut costs and improve medical outcomes. Everyone wants to get into this game, it seems, including Google, with its Google Health. But privacy issues have to be considered and privacy problems solved if this major health initiative is going to succeed.
Facebook is soliciting comments on new terms of service on a page called Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. There really is only one thing Facebook has to do— just assume by default that you don’t want anyone to see whatever content you leave behind when you leave. And if Facebook—or any other social media or health organization refuses, remove everything and get out.