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80,259 News Articles

How Facebook mucks up office life

Are you over-sharing with colleagues?

Managing a workforce is already a challenging job; now Facebook and other social networks raise a host of sticky new situations.

Another concern, Selvas says, is the Facebook tool for tagging people who appear in posted photographs: what if someone tags your photo among the attendees at a conference, he asks, where your presence implies something about ventures your company might be considering or jobs you might personally be angling for? You can remove the tag yourself, but only after he fact. While you can protect yourself beforehand by using Facebook's privacy settings to restrict who gets to see photos you're tagged in, even an untagged photo of you can still cause problems if your face is recognisable.

A further issue is the fact Facebook applications gain access to - as the warning screen tells you - 'your profile information, photos, your friends' info, and other content that it requires to work', whether they need it or not.

In 2007, Adrienne Porter Felt, then a computer science student at the University of Virginia and now a student at UC Berkeley, and David Evans, an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Virginia, did a survey of the top 150 Facebook applications and found that "90.7 percent of applications are being given more privileges than they need" to perform their intended functions.

The researchers haven't updated those earlier findings, but Evans says he suspects the results would be pretty similar. "If anything, the applications are getting more complex," he says. "And there is also an emerging model for third-party advertising networks embedded in applications, which has further privacy risks."

Facebook's policy does require application developers to delete user information after 24 hours, and, according to a Facebook spokesperson, the company has an enforcement staff to monitor compliance. Nevertheless, such wholesale acquisition of information illustrates the problem of retaining any kind of control over content you or your employees post.

And then there's the issue of how Facebook itself retains information posted by its users. The company stirred up a firestorm earlier last year when it made a change to its Terms of Service that gave the site ownership of all posted information, even after users had deleted their accounts. The immediate negative reaction forced Facebook to retract the policy and craft a new Terms of Service agreement, but again, it illustrates how volatile the data-ownership issue continues to be.

NEXT PAGE: Security threats still apply

  1. Are you over-sharing with your colleagues?
  2. Too many friends
  3. The consequences
  4. Blurring the line between worker and boss
  5. Another concern
  6. Security threats still apply


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