As discussed in a previous posting, folks in the data security and privacy world refer to the general public’s willingness to sacrifice privacy and data security in exchange for relatively trivial benefits as the “dancing pig” problem. It turns out studies demonstrate that most people will ignore a stern security warning on their computer screen just for the chance to view an animated clip of a dancing pig.
Today’s news turns another page in the saga of the dancing pigs. Facebook announced that it is now executing its plan to remove a privacy feature that lets users limit who can find them on the Facebook network. As a result, your Facebook profile is, by default, fully searchable and findable to the public. Facebook apparently claims this change was motivated by a desire not to give its users a “false sense of security,” since a person’s profile could already be searched for and found in other ways.
And so, the pig dances and the lives of Facebook users – and their friends and family – have achieved a new level of public transparency. Of course, most of us have “nothing to hide,” right? Well I have a question about that: have you ever read something on Facebook and thought “I can’t believe they actually shared that?” If you have – and I know you have – that’s what you have to hide. Sooner or later, the things you share, or that are shared about you by your helpful friends and family, will come back and bite you . . . somewhere. It may be when you’re chasing that dream job. It may be when you’re chasing your dream partner. It may be when you’re testifying in a lawsuit. It may be when that guy in Chechnya is chasing your bank account, or you psychotic ex-lover is chasing you.
And when – not if -that happens, your pig will stop dancing. Bacon anyone?