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Facebook’s Missing Culture of Privacy

October 22nd, 2010 · 1 Comment

I worked for a company that created social networks.  At Ripple6 there was a very firm policy regarding Personally Identifiable Information (PII). We had strict rules about revealing PII to our clients who were advertising on the networks we had built.  It was a cultural issue that pervaded the company from top to bottom.  We had a devotion to protecting our user’s PII which was important to everyone.  It came into play whenever we created a new feature, function or report- it was examined to determine if it revealed PII in any way.  Protecting PII was the most important job we had, above satisfying advertisers, major clients and any others who paid our bills.

To fix this issue Facebook needs to change their culture to one that values PII above any and all other issues.  They can do this, the question is do they want to?

With that experience behind me I find it impossible to understand how Facebook could have again found that they are releasing PII to advertisers.  It indicates that Facebook must lack that culture that values user’s PII above all other concerns.

Creating that culture in a social media company is important, and easy.  When everyone realizes that PII is a very important issue in the company it becomes easy to ensure that we are protecting that information.  Finance, insurance, and medical companies have been protecting PII for a very long time.  They develop a culture where releasing information about users is simply not acceptable.

Will Facebook fire someone as a result of this fiasco? I don’t know.  Will Facebook change their culture?  That direction needs to come from the very top.  And if there is much to be learned from the recent movie, The Social Network, it doesn’t appear that the leadership will place much emphasis on this issue.

In my opinion as a former social network insider, I find this mistake to be inexcusable.  The fact that is a repeat of earlier errors in the same area, sending PII information to advertisers only compounds the issue.  To fix this issue Facebook needs to change their culture to one that values PII above any and all other issues.  They can do this, the question is do they want to?

Give me 1 Good Reason why you think that Facebook can’t protect your PII?

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Tags: Reasons For Net Marketing

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Chris Kieff // Oct 22, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Here is an excellent post describing the technical details of the Facebook privacy breach in May 2010. Notice the similarity of this privacy breach in May and the one now in October. They didn’t really fix anything.

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