Facebook’s latest privacy issue was once again the talking point of this week.The website’s bug saw some of Mark Zuckerberg’s private Facebook photographs being hacked and posted online (bizarrely on a bodybuilding forum, but let’s ignore that bit). Users claim that the glitch allowed them to view other users’ photos, regardless of their privacy settings, if they selected another of their photos and reported it as inappropriate first.
Facebook has since fixed the problem and released a statement admitting the fault. But the irony in the CEO of Facebook, a company which centres its values on encouraging us to share more openly, fixing a problem as soon as he loses his privacy, is hard to ignore.
This is just the latest in a string of controversies Facebook has encountered over its users’ privacy in its 7 year lifespan. The social network had only come under fire in October for allegedly ‘outing’ gay users to their advertisers. Researchers reported that Facebook showed different adverts for gay men and women to straight men and women, even when their sexual preference was hidden on their profile.
But the underlying fact is no matter how outraged we all get, Facebook is still winning. With users topping 800 million earlier this year it would take more than this privacy loophole to steamroller its success overnight. One of the users who posted the photos of Zuckerberg on the forum had even written”I did three of these with my real profile then realised I might get banned for doing it, so I switched to a different profile”. Make a stand, protest against this terrible unethical loophole. But whatever you do don’t lose your account over it.
Google+ is proving a disappointment, so Facebook’s social networking crown looks unthreatened. Zuckerberg’s apparently genuine profile on Google+, gently mocking users, and his unconcern when asked about the rival social network in interviews have shown an ego which is unlikely to be bruised by this latest scandal.
The BBC’s “Mark Zuckerberg: Inside Facebook” programme hinted at the suggestion that revenue without angering its users. Although it might not be harnessing all of its potential, moneymaking is still at the heart of Facebook, and we’ve all heard about how Zuckerberg’s riches can probably buy a small planet or two. It is known to be the ‘stickiest’ website in the world, with not only 800 million active users, but an average time spent on the website longer than any other; an estimated 46minutes per day. Facebook also claims on its statistics page that over 50% of active users log on any given day.
So if you’re waiting for the ‘fad’ of social media and social media marketing to pass it won’t be for a while yet. Facebook will be sticking around, proving that these privacy issues haven’t dented its success or its ego. They haven’t even given it a virtual poke.
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