Is privacy possible in a social network? And, if so, which social-network service does it the best? We put Facebook and LinkedIn head-to-head to find out which is better.
Staff commitment to privacy: A draw
A good indicator of whether a website can back up the privacy promises it makes online is if it actually employs certified privacy professionals.
The main source available to me for making this determination is the membership directory of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.
While IAPP members certainly aren't the only privacy professionals, the IAPP is by far the largest privacy association and it also administers the Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) designation.
How did the social networks stack up? Facebook listed seven people in the IAPP directory, of which six were CIPPs.
LinkedIn, a smaller company than Facebook, listed just one.
That said, when I made inquiries to both Facebook and LinkedIn about this article, LinkedIn got back to me right away and was very conversant about all of the topics I was delving into. Facebook never responded.
I was originally giving Facebook an edge on this one, but the non-response led me to call this one a draw, too.
Privacy settings: Advantage LinkedIn
My privacy peers who are over 40 have been known to lament that people under 30 have lost their sense of personal privacy and post just about anything to Facebook.
There is some truth to this, but a big factor in this openness could be that young users are confident in the privacy settings available to them on social-network sites.
How do the privacy settings of Facebook and LinkedIn compare?
Facebook offers a far greater level of control over what information you show and to what audience.
For each of 11 data categories, Facebook enables you to choose whether Friends, Friends of Friends, Everyone or a custom group could see that category.
Facebook also allows you to choose which of 16 data categories from your profile can be grabbed by your friends' Facebook applications.
Facebook also puts its policy changes up for a vote. This is really amazing. I can't think of any other company that offers this level of user-privacy management.
LinkedIn offers this level of granularity only on which data categories are included on your public profile.
One feature where LinkedIn excels over Facebook, however, is Profile Views, where you can easily check to see who has viewed your profile and how many times you've shown up in search results.
LinkedIn also allows you to keep others from browsing your connections. I really like this feature, because my connections are my own business.
When Facebook changed its policy recently to make your friends public, I nearly closed my account.
If I didn't provide privacy consulting for corporate fan sites, I'd be a LinkedIn-only user right now.
While I was writing this article, Facebook also came out with a new default setting to share some of my data with third-party Facebook applications.
Facebook seems to be constantly pushing the envelope on changes to default settings that are privacy unfriendly.
This is why I give LinkedIn the first thumbs up of the comparison.
NEXT PAGE: Responses from my friends and connections
- Which social network protects your personal information best
- Staff commitment to privacy
- Responses from my friends and connections