Facebook keeps users vulnerable

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For all that it has to offer people in terms of keeping in touch, Facebook sure likes to hide its true face sometimes. Throughout its expansion as one of the best social networking websites, Facebook dealt with a large amount of criticism about its online privacy issues. Just this past week, a new feature was released allowing applications on the site to ask users for access to their home addresses and phone numbers. While Facebook has disabled the feature for the time being, some feared that users would allow access to this secure data without knowing it.

That may not seem like too big of a deal, but pile that on top of countless other issues, including constant updates to the site’s almost 6,000-word-long privacy policy, data mining of private individuals, and permanent changes to Facebook’s design and layout without any options for users. On top of these broad issues, more “unique” concerns have been voiced after Facebook disabled the search function to find’s page after it organized protests against the site, Facebook’s canceling accounts of users who uploaded breastfeeding photos, and its censorship of editorial content critical of Facebook.

This is still just the tip of the iceberg. The recent release of the movie The Social Network has pushed Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg to the forefront of not just social networking news, but the general news of the world as well. And this newfound surge of popularity and good spirit has done a swell job distracting people from Zuckerberg’s efforts to encourage people to share more information publicly. I know it’s hard to keep up with the new features rolled out seemingly weekly when all you’re really trying to do is stay in touch with someone you went to fourth grade with. The fact is that if you are on Facebook, it is almost inevitable that you have shared information with companies and people you have never heard of.

Yet we’re all still on Facebook, along with 500 million other people across the planet. There aren’t any signs of people deleting their accounts in record numbers either; in fact, the company is stronger than ever. It took in hundreds of millions of dollars of investments this past year from Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and other investors who want to see the company, currently valued at $50 billion, move forward as quickly as possible.

So, what to do? Is there an answer to this multitude of concerns over your privacy? I’m not sure, but I do know that if Facebook had a “dislike” button, I’d be all over that like white on rice.