Facebook and self-censorship

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There has been a lot of discussion going on about online privacy, specially on popular online services like Facebook and Gmail. Now that controversy may be back, with Facebook being able to tell when the user types a post or a comment, but deletes it without publishing it.

Facebook has been following comments and posts that are not published by users in order to see what thoughts don’t make it onto users public pages. The company claims that they are interested in knowing what people don’t post so they can improve their system to encourage them to make those posts.

Source: The Petition Site

Yup, that’s right. According to a recent report from a Facebook data scientist and former company intern, Facebook has collected data on how often users type and delete the content without publishing it. This has led to the creation of a petition (link is above), which already has almost thirty thousand signatures. Although Facebook claims that this study was only meant to identify when people typed and deleted the content, not what the users typed and deleted – and it might be true -, I personally wonder what are the limits of its technology? If Facebook has the technology to know when the user types any content without publishing it in the ten minutes afterwards, how can the user be sure that Facebook doesn’t have the technology to gather its content as well?

With the recent controversy that Facebook is also sharing user data with the NSA, as well as its access to users private messages (there is discussion on this matter on Google +), it seems that Facebook’s access to our (private) data is limitless and the concept of online privacy should be rethought and people should ask themselves to what extent do other online services (like Gmail, Twitter, …)  have access to their private info. Meanwhile, if you want to be on the safe side and have actual privacy online, the only real solution appears to be not sharing private data online, even if that data will be invisible to others (like self-censored comments should be).

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