Social media is based on engaging with others you choose to engage with. Ever since Facebook's Open Graph commandeered its way onto the digital highway, we've been asked to rethink how we can become more accessible by relinquishing more and more of our private data. After all, this is the 21st Century and FB should have the right to redefine what today's interpretation of privacy means. Hold it right there, Mr. Zuckerberg. Not so fast!
There's been other breaches in the past, and disputes over 'opt-in' vs 'opt-out,' but the most recent infraction was reported by the MailOnline in the Uk and has given many pause as to a loophole that seems to exist in Facebook's Group category. The rules for friending someone is quite clear at this point. The same holds true for LIKEing a Fan page or a product on the Web. If the user initiates the action, it becomes part of one's public FB log and will be added to their updated status.
Claire KhawHowever Facebook Groups, unbeknownst to many appears to abide by a different set of guidelines - and publicist Claire Khaw and her controversial 'group' under the title of "Colonel Gaddafi Support Group" was out to prove that point.
Apparently even with an "ask to join group" button. . .
...unsuspecting members can be added without their consent, and this was accomplished by Ms Khaw, the administrator of this group.John Cleese Those that woke up the other day and found their names added to the Gaddafi support group (without their permission) included actors/comedians John Cleese and Sascha Baron Cohen, in addition to UK politicians MP Eric Pickles and Sir Ian Paisley.
According to the report, these public figures are believed to be added after a change in Facebook's policy allowed friends of Khaw to be added without their consent.
Andrew NellBBC Daily pundit Andrew Nell didn't take kindly when he found out Ms. Khaw also added him to the group. Writing on the group's wall he demanded: "How do I get out of this absurd group?" and then added "Why is it possible you can be made a member without permission?"
While the aftermath might not prove fruitful for maintaining her friendships with these folks, Khaw defended herself saying she was adding people to draw light to the fact this flaw FB's policy exists. And even though all of these folks can leave the group by simply hitting the "leave group" button," it doesn't justify the authority of one to make decisions for others.
So now that the spotlight has turned back on Facebook as to their rationale, the policy response appears to be a little murky, to say the least. According to the Daily Telegraph, a spokesman for Facebook stated, "there is no way for users to prevent themselves from being added to groups by friends."
Further, she say, "we would always encourage people to only be friends with people you actually know,' she said. 'When a friend adds you to a group, you'll get a notification right away and you can leave a group at anytime," she adds.
This is a sad commentary behind the idea of "friending" someone on Facebook. The Zuckerberg worldview appears to be that you are essentially "guilty by association" with the friends you keep. Once you allow someone to come into your FB circle, that supposed-friend is then given the right to sign you up for any group he or she sees fit - without conferring with you first?
In many of Zuckerberg's public interviews, he has held fast to the belief that all of the policies he has deployed on his social network are closely aligned to what people do naturally in the real world. However, I find it hard to believe if I called up one of friends today, and told him I just signed him up for a "Support Gaddafi Rally," he would say "thank you so much."
But then, again, perhaps Mr. Zuckerberg's friends think differently.
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