The Future of Facebook: The End of Privacy?

Zuckerberg unveils his company's soaring aspirations

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Mark Zuckerberg wants to take over the Internet. Will this come at the expense of your privacy? The question looms large with Facebook's ambitious new plans to integrate with the Web at large. On Wednesday, Facebook's CEO unveiled Open Graph—a series of products that integrate users' interests, friends and activities with other sites. This includes "like" buttons sprinkled across the Web that can later be used for targeted advertising. As with any changes to Facebook, the announcement has caused quite a stir:

  • Mark Zuckerberg Lied  Marshall Kirkpatrick at Read Write Web documents a change in the CEO's position:
Facebook today announced that application developers will be allowed to store user data for more than 24 hours, removing a major restriction that the company had imposed on its ecosystem for years. Competitors like Twitter and MySpace had no such restrictions and now Facebook is in the same boat. Founder Mark Zukerberg used to say that the rule against storing data was essential to protect users and their privacy.

Where are those now? Privacy, Zuckerberg told me in a March 2008 interview, 'is the vector around which Facebook operates.' Two years later, not so much.

  • A Threat to Privacy   Tech Eye blog explains that the new "open graph" feature means that "Facebook is going to know all about your web habits. Yes, even 'those ones.' The post then explains how Facebook's goals for the "like" function: "Facebook has huge plans to expand this, by casting its 'like' button across, literally, the entire web. When you like a page you'll tell the world through Facebook."
  • It Zooms In on Individuals, writes Dan Fletcher at Time. Fletcher says the key takeaway is that Facebook wants to "increase the information" users are "willing to share" in order to make the Web more social. He continues: "The company already has a highly developed ad platform on, allowing advertisers to target users in a very narrowly defined demographic: 20-year-old female juniors at the University of California, Berkley, for example. If Facebook is suddenly able to tap into your preferences as well, the platform could be that much more powerful. ...the company could soon have the ability to target advertisements more narrowly than anyone else can."
  • Privacy Will Become the User's Responsibility, writes Christina Warren at Mashable: "Public no longer means 'public on Facebook,' it means 'public in the Facebook ecosystem.' Some companies, like Pandora, are going to go to great lengths to allow users to separate or opt out of linking their Pandora and Facebook accounts together, but users can’t expect all apps and sites to take that approach. My advice to you: Be aware of your privacy settings."
  • Nearing a Facebook-Internet Takeover, writes MG Siegler at TechCrunch: "In my opinion, Facebook still has a ways to go towards improving its actual site if it's really going to be the long-term center of the web. (As in, the place you go to rather than But its claws for pulling in outside content are now razor-sharp. It's going to be very hard for anyone to escape."
  • Don't Blow This Out of Proportion, cautions Derek Thompson at The Atlantic: "Open Graph initially sounds pretty invasive. But remember that everything that flows into this reservoir of content is already public. Facebook's new policy doesn't make your private information public. It makes your public information a lot more public. Content that was once between you and your pal's news feed is now playing all your friends' CNN Facebook plug-ins and sloshing around in a matrix of information."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.