Bits from Bill Pytlovany: Can Facebook Be Trusted?


By Bill Pytlovany

Last week Facebook rolled out another round of what they consider easy to use privacy settings. What they’re really doing is trying to appear as if they’re doing something to address major privacy concern from customers and privacy organizations. Even Harry McCracken at Technologizer, says “Bottom line: Managing your Facebook privacy is still a remarkably convoluted process which isn’t explained clearly enough.”

Many of my friends received new Facebook settings on the first night but not everyone.  I received one change however that baffled me. It seems that any post I made on my wall was set to be seen by “Only Me”.


It seemed like Facebook was saying “Screw you privacy advocates” by changing the default settings for wall posts to “Only Me”. “There you go, want privacy? Now nobody can see what you post”. I can’t imagine why this would even be an option let alone the default.

If I clicked on the padlock I was able to change it so my posts could be seen by “Friends Only” which was my normal settings.  Unfortunately, I had to change this setting for each post I made. 


When I clicked on Customize I was able to tell Facebook I wanted to change my default but it took four times before it would stick. These changes or bug appeared before the new security settings were rolled out to my account.

Plenty of people are doing articles about the new Facebook settings but I’m really asking the fundamental question.  Can you trust Facebook?  Based on my observations the answer is ….

Bill’s article continued here.

This post is excerpted with Bill’s permission from his blog

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24 thoughts on “Bits from Bill Pytlovany: Can Facebook Be Trusted?”

  1. My issue is with MySpace: I can’t seems to CANCEL my account, opt out, get off, quit MySpace – they make no provision for CANCELATION. I want an Online Policy with oversight and honoring us folks that want off. A Policy that all social networking sites MAKE PROVISION for and EASY Disengage. Effortless and for no reason other than my PRIVACY: this footsie GAME has to stop. It is intrusive for the sake of monetizing. I WANT OUT NOW !!! NOW with no fuss and bother: it is bad business and bad for my business. Don’t I have LEGAL RIGHTS to get off if I want. I’ve never felt so impersonally trapped before like this… Tell me WHERE and HOW to go with this… HELP !

  2. Um, if you don’t like Facebook, don’t join it. But why go on about what’s supposedly so wrong with it? It’s good for some but not all. Just because of this one thing, that doesn’t make it totally garbage. Anyone with common sense would know that. I like it, I don’t think everyone needs to but those who don’t please live and let live, you know? Thanks!

  3. I absolutely LOVE my Facebook account! If it weren’t for Facebook I wouldn’t have connected with all my classmates from Highschool and beyond. I can keep in touch with family in other states and share photos with them all! I wouldn’t be able to be a part of my newborn grandchildren’s world if it weren’t for Facebook! This is far better than MySpace! I am fully aware that anything I post may be seen, or I wouldn’t post it!

  4. yes they sell crap to make money just like everyone’s beloved yahoo. its simple you either like it or you don’t don’t piss and moan unless you are forking out your own money to make the site run.

  5. I think it’s pretty clear anymore that those who are afraid and/or warning about using Facebook are the ones who shouldn’t be one there anyway. IF someone can’t figure out how NOT to post personal info online, AND set their account appropriately, then they probably have no business being online At All!

  6. Facebook is in the BUSINESS of collecting your data and selling it to interested parties for a fee. This is called monetizing the data. These interested parties for the most part want to use your data to sell you things. The more data Facebook can gather from you (with or without your permission) the more potential buyers it can find and therefore maximize the revenue it collects. This is the Facebook business model. The idea of privacy or control of your data is antithetical to this business model. Facebook wants to sell your data and has become a multi-billion dollar entity by following that model. Can you trust Facebook with your privacy, your personal data? YES, You can trust them to sell it to the highest bidder! That is their business model and stated intent.

  7. I agree with those who love facebook. I am a dog breeder and it is a wonderful way to stay in touch with my dog people and friends at a glance. It is a wonderful venue to keep up on all of my dogs out there and to publish new info to those on facebook that may not otherwise have the time to go to my website, but do check in there everyday or so.I do not go in for the games and worthless apps, or click on ads, but it has been wonderful for my business and since my fan page is totally public new pictures of my offspring are there for everyone to see. I also find out what is going on with my more distant reletives I am not in everyday contact with. I control my settings and could not be happier!!

  8. Brian–I agree. I have never touched an ad in Facebook. Also, I have never joined a game group or most “causes” etc. I just converse with family and friends and post a few pictures that I don’t mind other people seeing. I make it a point not to post anything that I wouldn’t want Mother to read even though she has long since passed. I still feel accountable to her! Make good personal choices and you will control consequences.

  9. HOW TO GET REVENGE ON FACEBOOK without closing your account?
    Simple. NEVER click on an ad in Facebook, EVER. Treat it like you should be treating spam emails

  10. I cannot believe the idiots defending facebook and totally missing the point.
    Facebook set itself up as a way of friends interacting. That’s how it marketed itself. Posting something on there was to be seen by friends you allowed to see it unless you chose to make it otherwise. It wasn’t like posting on just any site visible to everyone.
    Facebook moved the goalposts, lied to everyone, moved the goalposts again and again, and made privacy settings so complicated that it’s impossible to ensure that you’ve got it right.
    And if you don’t like it? There’s always idiots like the posters above me to say “it’s free, so they’re entitled to steal your private data”. No, they are not. That’s why some countries are finally threatening them with privacy regulation. Of course they’ll probably be as strict as the USA was with all Microsoft’s crimes against Netscape and other competitors a few years ago.
    Facebook will only change when a privacy leak causes some innocent person’s death and an angry relative gets revenge by killing the CEO of facebook. I hope it comes soon (the latter, not the former.)
    Facebook even made it almost impossible to properly delete your account and even then you can’t be sure the data is deleted.
    I run an animal refuge and I’m forced to keep open my facebook account because so many people post urgent help requests and photos of animals on facebook pages and I have to be a member to access them to see if I can help. Otherwise I’d be well out of that data-thieving site

  11. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to connect with family that I hadn’t been able to find for years. As far as privacy settings go, I follow this rule, if I don’t want anybody to know something I simply don’t post it online anywhere. Once you post something anywhere online anybody can gain access to that information.
    ‘Ol Bear

  12. Look if you want privacy on a free service then don’t use it. They own the site it is their’s to do what they want with and what room does anyone have to complain about something their not paying for. It like getting a free beer and then complaining its not their brand. People need to get a life and use their heads when online if you don’t want someone to see something DON’T PUT IT ONLINE.

  13. I agree. I totally like facebook. If you’re having problems outside the normal facebook issues, look at your settings and adjust them to fit you. I’m a big fan of Chris Pirillo and he stated it very clear. If you don’t want someone to know what you’re doing or saying, don’t post it. If facebook is giving away info, oh well so is everyone else that you subscribe too. If it’s out there, they will find it. As far as “I closed my account and my PC started running better”, herre’s something to consider. I unplugged my PC’s internet connection and mine started running better too. WOW!!! it’s internet based technology, it will decrease performance to a bit. If facebook apps are slowing your system, look at improving your system through basic tweaks, maintenance, and upgrades.

    I guess like everything else, I did it but I want someone else to blame it on.

  14. I fail to see the value-added in Facebook. If one wants to share pictures, why not just do a website. And, what’s wrong with email for sharing pictures/files? Sharepoints? I just don’t get the Facebook fad; it genuinely seems to be predominantly a female thing and hardly worth the security risks it poses. “Karen” could have found the same information by just doing a search on the web without Facebook.

  15. Facebook ROCKS! I have been reconnected to friends that I have lost contact with over the past 40 years. I am thankful for Facebook and the many opportunities I have to minister to my friends and family. As with any place on the web the individual user needs to be web savvy and be careful what they put in the public view.

  16. I have finally discovered how to delete my account………..I think! If I check to see whether it has been deleted, it reactivates. I only ever joined because some friends suggested it. I am not interested in constantly posting and playing games, there’s a whole world outside.

  17. While I agree that Facebook’s policies are very complicated we should not go sounding off if we don’t want our private stuff to be seen, but then put it up anyway! I have a Facebook page and it only contains profile info I don’t mind others seeing. I think Dan (June 2nd) sums it up brilliantly. If you don’t want it to be seen, don’t post it!!

  18. I think it’s a great social networking tool. I have met many people I would have never met on social networking sites such as twitter of facebook.
    My biggest issue is it’s free so do we really have a right to say anything about anything on a free site? It would be one thing if I paid money to join or a monthly fee where I want it to be more secure, but since it’s free then so be it who sees what I post. If I don’t want the world to see then I don’t post it… simple as that.
    I can pay a company that specializes in hacking where they will obtain an email password for you so you can spy on someones email and they guarantee they can… My point is if you post anything on the net just how safe is that info?

  19. ya i posted all this private info and pictures of myself on the internet because i didnt want anyone to see.

  20. Wow I totally disagree that FB is useless. I found my best friend after losing her for years (or she found me)it can be tough when you are woman and have changed your name. I can see what my uncle harley is doing across the coast. Normally we would never talk or know what is going on in the family. I guess you really need to study your settings and get them as you want them, and then test them through a friends account to be sure. That sounds like a bug that adjusted your settings to “Only Me” without you knowing. Thank you for telling us that so I can check out my page. How annoying! I agree it is a ridiculously convoluted process. But it helps me keep track of my teenaged nephews and daughter and old friends! FB is beautiful to me for that reason.

  21. I deactivated my account and my computer seems to be running faster and not freezing up.I kept getting friend requests from sluts who wanted me to view their pictures.I don’t think it’s going to last.

  22. Facebook has and always will be useless, I never joined it because it is in my opinion, rubbish, I could do better with my own website, I say avoid facebook altogether, they are sharing your information with everyone and should be avoided at all cost.

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