158 thoughts on “Why Facebook Home bothers me: It destroys any notion of privacy”

  1. Why the privacy outrage now? Google already does all of that right now, in order to better target search ads at us. Is it because its Facebook that you’re outraged?

    1. @Daz

      I have equal amount of skepticism and issues with Google, Apple and others. Facebook just has a complete disregard for the rules and we have seen it previously.

      1. Google also has a complete disregard for the rules when it stole private info with it’s street view cars and intentionally bypassing “do not track” settings in Safari.

      2. Google has a monopoly on display advertising. I’m a developer and monetised my websites via Adsense. When Google inexplicably shut down my account I lost the money I’d accrued and I was permanently excluded from their program. Google’s email didn’t explain why my account was banned (was it content on my site? was it competitors hammering ads on my sites? I’ll never know, and thus I couldn’t creating an effective appeal)

        There are no other display advertising models that offer anywhere near the revenue of Adsense.

        Google has the power to put you out of business if you depend on advertising. Google can make your business invisible if they arbitrarily de-index it.

        Google is the monopolist that we should be most concerned about.

      3. Bingo. The difference between Facebook and Google & Apple is FB’s constant underhanded and obfuscating tactics to strip away user’s privacy. At least with Google and Apple you know where you stand.

        FB doesn’t have a product other than its social networking site/apps (and now a quasi OS?) the only way they can increase revenue is by sucking ever more data out of Facebook users. At least, FWIW, Google provides a myriad of services and while they’ve certainly courted controversy with their flouting of EU and US privacy legislation, it seems Google isn’t quite as..sleazy..as Facebook. Their monopoly on advertising, however, is an issue that needs watching.

        Apple still produces hardware – and software to run on it – and while their “walled garden” approach to iOS (thank you jailbreak community) isn’t ideal, they are nowhere near the privacy and information vampires Facebook are.

      4. To be fair to Apple, they do way more to protect our privacy than other companies, and they have a very good reason for it. It makes them look better, and they also make money on hardware, not playing loose and fast with our privacy.

        Remember the big brouhaha between Apple and publisher because Apple would not release customer data to them so they can do their circulation calculations to know how to charge advertisers? Yeah, nobody else would do that.

        So for all their faults and mistakes, let’s not make Apple to be as bad as either Google, or Facebook. They are clearly not.

    2. I still remember when maintain a Facebook app, I chose to not share basic information on a test account, yet I could still query for it through the API.

      Google does it, sure, but it seems Facebook does it to the next level.

    3. Why does everyone bring up Google? Yes, but you realize EVERYONE does all that right now? AT&T does it. Apple. Google. Nokia. Microsoft. Any email service that filters out spam, no matter what service it is, has to read your email to do the filtering. Your ISP’s all keep track of where you surf.

      Any computer or device that accesses the Internet throws privacy out the window. You all realize this, yes? But that’s beside the point, THIS article from Om is about Facebook and it’s new app. Just because Google does this too doesn’t negate the concern of what Facebook is doing. It’s a juvenile argument “Stop running in the house!” “But MOM, Steven was running too!”

      The reason Om wrote this isn’t because of any “outrage” at Facebook…it’s because Facebook just announced this. It’s in the news. We’re not talking about Google, we’re talking about Facebook and this new app they came out with. Again, just because another company does similar things doesn’t automagically negate the things that Facebook is doing with this new app.

      1. Most email services filter out spam through the collection of suspect email addresses and keywords in subject lines as well as individual feedback (like when I click move to spam it will automatically move any mail coming from that address to my spam folder). And google does not read your emails to filter spam they read your email to find out more about you so they can target you with specific ads. The difference between Google and Facebook VS all the other companies you listed is their centric business model. Apple, Nokia, Microsoft all make actually products they want people to purchase whether it is hardware or software. Google and Facebook products are the people who make use of their ‘free’ services and they sell the information about these people to the highest bidder. Sure Google sells products too, but its is only in an effort to support their primary business models. The more Google products you use, the more personal data and information Google is able to collect and therefore you become a more valuable commodity to advertisers.

    4. Has Google ever without permission launched an ad campaign using your image to promote products as if you had agreed to endorse them?

      Is Google angelic? No.

      Is Google on the same level as Facebook? Are you kidding me?!?

  2. Hey Om,

    It feels like for 10 or 15 years we’ve had this discussion around the Internet then mobile and the erosion of privacy and/or security risks. What people share and tell others now was unthinkable even 10 years ago. If we’ve come this far it’s hard for me to believe this is the tipping point. It’s just another incremental step on the path.

      1. Exactly. Us old folks are no longer the target audience. The future generations are caring less and less about privacy and sharing more and more. I see it all around. “So what if Facebook knows where I am. I just told it share” is what the new generation is going to think.

        It’s the same with regards to violence and language in the media. Look 50 years back and compare to now.

        The world moves forwards.

      2. I wouldn’t say that.
        I merely passed my legal age & I’m very much concerned about my online privacy, which resulted to me closing my Facebook account. For sure I’ve been looked at as a freak when I told my peers I do not have Facebook. When I still had an account, I used my pseudonym instead, but now if Facebook will track every single movement we make, I don’t think pseudonyms/false locations will help anymore.

  3. I agree about privacy issues but the same thing can be said about Google also and infact think Google android investment is based on that assumption .ofcource facebook has social data as well .

  4. Over the course of many years it seems that journalists (and I’m also assuming criminals) are the only ones who get outraged over privacy. The general public does not care. They didn’t care 5 years ago, and they’re not caring about this either

    1. Your last fact may be true- the bit about criminals is offensive at least.
      There are plenty of non-criminal citizens concerned. This goes the age old questions- when you send mail (rarely I’m sure) through the Post Office, do you seal it in an envelope? And if you have nothing to hide (i.e. not a criminal) then why do you seal it? The difference for me is I have to consciously not use an envelope for my privacy to be null/void. Facebook/Google are doing this without me telling them it is okay.
      Only when Journalists point this out can we expect the general public to hopefully wake up.

      1. You use an envelope so that mail doesn’t fall out and to allow multiple documents to be sent. It also provides a roughly standard size for each piece of mail and guarantees that something can’t unfold while being sent through automated processing.

      2. People do care – if you ask them plainly and directly, they’ll tell you they don’t want targeted adverts. *Everyone* thinks they’re creepy. *Everyone* wonders just how much information “they” have on you.

        I’ve never met a person to praise targeted advertisements for helping them discover some cool new product or whatever. The topic doesn’t come up often in conversation, but when it does all you’ll hear is that they’re creepy.

        But most people just don’t know. When I go out and buy groceries (or anything else in the world), there’s a clearly-labelled product and cost. When I sign up for a Facebook account, there’s no clear explanation of the cost to me – what things they’ll be tracking and what it’ll be used for. It’s all kind of ethereal and conceptual – people aren’t understanding the true cost of these products.

        Even with all of these “privacy policies”, we’ll have to confront the fact that most people won’t really understand them or their implications. Unfortunately I always see these debates dominated by people who put the blame on the user. I see it another way – that is that most people in the world aren’t super technology-literate, and it’s unnatural for them to have to be in a state of constant vigilance to protect their privacy.

        We need privacy laws that work for the people and their expectations, not laws that let the companies do what they want and blame the people for not being vigilant enough.

    2. I agree with you 100%! The more aware you are, the more scared! I am scared for what data google, facebook… have stored about me. This maping of people is risky and could be dangerous maybe not today or tomorrow but next week.

    3. That’s exactly the mentality that a police state wants you to have. The only people who need privacy are criminals and subversives. All pictures, texts, phone calls and emails become government or company property. Ridiculous. One day you’ll mess up and someone will take an embarrassing shot of you and post it for your entire family and co-workers to see. Then, you’ll value your privacy.

  5. The thing is, Android itself does this for Google and sometimes it works out for users like with Google Now. I think there does need to be a broader conversation with people about realizing what you’re giving up, why and what the benefits are. Facebook and Google should actually lead this because there’s going to be a point where people freak out down the road

  6. Umm I was with you up until the last sentence. What does Congress have to do with diddly. Dont like FB – dont use it. Vote with your dollars and lets not introduced monopolized force where it isnt needed.

    1. Because when you friends take a photo with you in it and name you even if you are NOT a facebook user, Facebook will use facial recognition and seat piecing together YOUR life too. It will start seeing if you have common friends, perhaps people you work with, sports teams, etc etc.

      YOU dont have to share the information, its what others share about your life too through comments and photos. Then there will be all the other “snooping” these search engines foo trawling through phonebooks, and other “public records” to help them tie down more accurate information about who you are.

      And its not just public records either, local businesses may find it attractive to share your information about what you buy, all without your knowledge and consent.

      1. Facebook does not collect any information about you if you are not a user. Where did you get that information? Because without proof, you’re just making it up. Facebook does not piece together information about non-facebook users. Facebook does not go through public records to get more information about you. Facebook does not share any of it’s user information directly with businesses.

        1. Wake up, Slava. Facebook’s appetite for personal data is insatiable.

          Buy Signal: Facebook Widens Data Targeting–Wall Street Journal


          “Gunning to win more advertising dollars, Facebook Inc. is using new ways to cull personal information from outside the social network and match it with data submitted by its billion-plus users.

          The efforts are winning over advertisers such as General Motors Co. and Neiman Marcus Group Inc. but are further raising privacy concerns as Facebook harnesses a mosaic of information about its users.”

          One of the reasons Facebook Beacon ran into legal problems was that purchase information with FB Beacon partners of NON-MEMBERS was being exchanged with Facebook. Facebook Beacon may be gone, but Facebook’s ambitions to accomplish the same objective in other ways have never disappeared.

          Facebook believes in the total openness of society. It’s Wikileaks on a personal level. By the time the general public realizes it, it will be too late.

      2. Yes they do Slava, they are called shadow profiles. look it up. Your naive to think otherwise.

  7. I fully concur with you. Based on the pricing of the phone it would appear that they are targeting teens & the young with little disposable income

  8. Google ALREADY does this!! Why does Google get a pass on everything!! Start holding them accountable too!

  9. Way too much discussion about privacy, when Home replacement (and Facebook in general) is targeted to people who don’t understand that issue, or don’t want to understand – less versed computer users, teenagers and similar. Of course I won’t be using it, but again, my Facebook profile is almost empty. On the other hand, I can imagine people enjoying it from the day one, especially those already addicted to FB.

    I find this move by FB to be very well thought out.

  10. Apple has Siri and more,Google is Google ,this is not a FB specific problem.
    FB Home ,as it is now, seems like a bad idea because anything non FB is further away . No widgets,no folders , at least the time is still there. A walled garden is bad enough, an empty walled garden is silly.

    1. Apple doesn’t make its money on Ads, I buy something from Apple and they go away afterwards, and I like it that way.

    1. Um…that knee-jerk answer does not really work because of how, even if you post nothing, your information can be derived from correlating the words, pictures, videos, and location data that OTHERS post on the Internet about you or in connection with you. For example, Facebook lets your friend/family tag you in a photo even if you don’t have a Facebook account. Your control over your own privacy is not at parity with the ability of companies to discover your personal information, so it is foolish if you act as if your own withholding information from the Internet is enough.

      Read Keith’s post in this thread to understand this better.

      Privacy protection is going to take more than just a few individuals not using Facebook or not posting to the web. It takes education so that a significant number of people are aware of what happens when they share on the web. Only when enough educated people hold back will companies like Facebook and Google think about changing. That serious need for education makes articles like this very worthwhile.

  11. 2 years too late. Who wants to ads on their home screen? Who wants friend’s boring or smug posts as ur screensaver? I think Facebook over estimates how important their service is to people

    1. I would take ads on the home screen in exchange for a free tablet. I do not want ads on the home screen of a tablet that I pay for, simply so I can have facebook on my home screen.

  12. You: Pooping

    FBH: I see by your gps coordinates that you have been in your bathroom quite some time now.

    You: WTF?

    FBH: If constipation is a problem, please see this sponsored link. We’re here to help!

  13. The assumption that better targeted marketing and advertising doesn’t approve our lives says more about the marketers that use this data than the source of the data itself.

  14. Om, I completely agree. You could argue that Privacy is the core of Facebook’s business model. The platform works because we give our information and view Ads in exchange of the value we get from having access to other’s information and interacting with them.

    This is a completely acceptable business model and Facebook has been very successful at creating innovations that have convinced us to share more and more. The problem starts when the users are no longer aware of what they are giving in return.

    It seems to me that Facebook is increasingly growing by creating features that obscure privacy settings rather than allow a transparent exchange of our information for real value.

    I personally think that is not convenient even for Facebook to follow this path; in the short-term it might seem appealing, but in the long-term it will complicate every new move they try to make, as the public and opinion leaders become wary of these tactics.

  15. What would happen to your business if you quit Facebook?
    What would happen to your personal life?

    If the reward of using it exceeds the escalating risks and irritations, keep using it, and keep carping.

    But if you could get on without it about as well, then why not simplify your life?

    Clean out your closet while you’re at it.

  16. I agree with the general concensus here that the general public does not care or is interested in piracy hyperbole. Too many movies and fantasy in my opinion. Ok so Facebook used it’s computing power to deduce where I live. Whoopy Doo! Who am I? I’m nobody. The general public is what drives companies to do what they do not the puny 1% power users/prosumers/tech savvy population. And of course like one commenter said, if this bothers you don’t use it simple as that.

  17. Wow, destroys any not of privacy privacy, eh? Simple solution to that: DON’T USE FACEBOOK.

    Also, I get this is a tech blog, but seriously, two words: Patriot Act. If you are this concerned with Facebook and your privacy and are an American citizen, where’s the outrage and concern over roving wiretaps authorized by the Patriot Act? Is Facebook’s “invasion” of your privacy farther reaching than the Federal government?

    1. @Joe – it isn’t that facebook is collecting data, it’s that I don’t trust them with it. Facebook keeps trying to trick us into making our information public and/or publishing it. Google, Apple, Homeland Security, etc., don’t do that.

  18. “And most importantly it is Facebook, a company that is known to have played loose-and-easy with consumer privacy and data since its very inception, asking for forgiveness whenever we caught them with its hand in the cookie jar.”

    For me, this is the key. I know that Google others are collecting the same data, and I’m not thrilled about it, but I like and trust facebook a lot less than other companies.

    Here’s why: Google, for example, collects my data so they can send me ads. They entice me to use free apps so they can collect even more data and send me better and better ads. I get it. It’s an easy recipe and that’s how they make money. What Google does NOT do – which facebook DOES do – is try to trick me or confuse me into making my information public. They don’t quietly change defaults from private to public, or private to share, something which facebook has done on more than one occasion. I feel like I have to watch facebook all the time.

    So no, facebook, I won’t be trying your new Facebook Home launcher. It isn’t because of the privacy principle, it’s because I don’t trust or like YOU. It’s personal. If somebody else launched Home, I would probably try it.

  19. Most Facebook apps on Android are already granted permission to access GPS, contacts and many other capabilities to support check-in and location sensitive searches. I don’t see how this really changes much.

    1. It changes a lot. Facebook and facebook apps on Android only get access to data when you are using them. Facebook Home gets access to device-level usage data – for all apps – all the time.

  20. I really don’t understand what’s different about Facebook Home vs. other services like Google Glass, Google Now, Siri, etc. that suddenly bothers you about Home? Maybe I’m not reading this close enough?

    Secondly, calling for legislation around private business transactions is a terrible idea. Let the free market do its job. You’re not forced to use Facebook, you know?

  21. Do we really need Facebook anymore? There are so many other better, more trutworthy and less pathetic social options. Treat your Stockholm syndrome, vote with your eyeballs and delete your account. It was the best decision I’ve made, it plugged an incorrigible data leak and it greatly strengthened the relationships I actually cherished.

  22. Nah. The biggest problem with Home is Facebook. I don’t want Facebook to “own” my social network.
    There’s many people in my phone address book that I don’t have on facebook and I will keep it that way.

    So – I very much like Facebook to be in its own little box. I don’t see why I should use facebook email and facebook messenger – I would much rather use alternative services for that that are not owned by facebook. I use SMS, iMessage, Line, Kik messenger, and Whatsapp. And email. Facebook integration doesn’t add to messaging, it removes from it as it’s limited to your facebook social graph.

    Why should we box ourselves in like that? Makes no sense to me. Facebook is more valuable as an independent app that I can shut off any time I like.

    1. You do know you don’t have to install the launcher and just keep using the app separately, don’t you?

      1. I am aware of that. I am also aware I don’t need to purchase that HTC phone, or any other FB phones.

        I am just pointing out why I will actively avoid Home. I see tight FB integration as a negative rather than a positive.

        That said Google must be foaming at the mouth…

  23. Interesting discussion, but I find it ironic that when I loaded this page, Ghostery popped at least 15 different tracking cookies on it

  24. Don’t see how Facebook Home is any worse in privacy than Facebook in general. Seems like a anti-Facebook campaign here. Honestly, Om, you didn’t say much about Facebook Home – the product. This whole thing was about privacy, which is a widely discussed topic around Facebook. But the product itself seems great to me, best Android experience so far.

    And also, Google is so much worse than Facebook. Why don’t you complain about that in a review of every Google product they release. Wouldn’t make sense? Exactly. That’s why I don’t see how it makes sense when done to Facebook.

    Seems like there are companies whose actions are always tolerated (Google, Samsung) and the other ones, whose problems get multiplied in press (Facebook, Apple). I’d like to see some objectivity in that regard.

    1. I don’t see the privacy issue as any worse either.

      Obviously, the goal of Home is to make us use Facebook more, and for more things. Like hey, we can all use Facebook messenger instead of SMS or Whatsapp. More Facebook means more data sent to facebook, along with less privacy. But not disproportionally so – if you’re a facebook addict and constantly on your FB app you’ll have the same effect.

      All in all I don’t see how the FB homescreen would benefit me in any way. I can see how it benefits Facebook though.

  25. The point it so highlight a given activity by a given company. Suggesting that some other company is also evil may in fact be correct, but doesn’t attack the core argument. Also: dumb.

  26. I don’t think that Facebook Home adds anything new in this regard…the current Facebook app can do all of these “nefarious” things already.

  27. Umm, it’s only ads people. Are you all so scared of receiving sidebar ads that are targeted to things that FB Home deduces you might need or appreciate based on your movements and activity? Ridiculous- just ignore them!
    Now, if Om Malik and others spent more time thinking about how in the probable near future private security firms, or banks, or government agencies, or GOVERNMENTS started knocking on Zuckerberg’s door for access to our juicy details, then I’d be interested. But I’ll take all the shaving products/reading glasses/kid’s toys ads FB can throw at me all day long, in return for a free social networking service. (oops, I just revealed all my darkest secrets!)

    1. @Ron, there already are private agencies combing facebook and other social networks and selling that information.

      Props to Om for at the very least calling out the privacy issues inherent with Facebook Home as a concern.

    1. What if he was? Does that mean you can ignore every point he makes?

      You’re looking for an easy way out. Don’t be lazy. Address the message, not the messenger.

  28. This whole Facebook Home idea is a massive fail. I want a phone with a good Facebook app, not a Facebook device. I think Facebook has definitely gotten an overinflated sense of its own importance.

  29. I was reading this article at work on my phone while waiting for some tests to run so that I could go home, when suddenly my phone displayed an alert. My commute home will be allowed by heavy traffic on the interstate. I’m not entirely sure how Google knew that it was almost time four me to drive home, or even where home is, but it likely did that through tracking. Is that creepy? A little, but it just saved me some time, so it’s worth it. My point is, these features can be very useful, and yet could easily be killed off by a poorly written law. The proper solution to privacy does not lie in our legislature. It lies in education, the media for pointing out three breaches, and the courts when it is found a company broke their published privacy guarantees.

  30. “Facebook/Google are doing this without me telling them it is okay.”

    Really? So, you didn’t click on the button/radio button/check box to accept the Terms and Conditions of the services they provide?


  31. Great article Om,
    As a digital advertising exec this is a dream come true…. as a consumer I won’t use it.

  32. So far, FB have sent me ads for weight loss products and larger size clothing stores, with a sprinkling of car ads. I’m a regular gym goer who uses a car share service. Frankly, if they need to stalk me to this extent to improve on that, they should just pack it in and go home…

  33. On Facebook are only those who are willing to share their personal lives for one reason or the other. Most people already check in where they are all the time on Facebook anyway so I don’t think that this is that much of a big deal to be honest. Facebook’s business is in fact selling information and data to marketing agencies on what people are consuming and they are very clear about that ever since day one. Most Facebook users are aware of that and willing to pay the price of giving away some information about their habits in return of satisfying their voyeur greed or having a powerful tool of auto promotion.
    What I DO believe is very dangerous is when Facebook sells data to secret services as they did during the Arabic Spring Revolutions. That is the real threat! The fact that Facebook doesn’t care who they sell their data to or how this will be used… And for that reason I believe that a serious and severe regulation should be debated to set the boundaries of what such business can and can not do.

  34. @Om The biggest risk is lot of people don’t understand what they are signing up for with Facebook or Google. With Facebook the biggest risk is they are so casual and flippant about security like the way they changed email ids, changing features without notifying. It is scary to continue to remain a facebook user.

  35. I really can’t see what the big drama is about, Google already collect all that information. Had a quick look at my facebook page, out of 7 adds, there might be one I would click on, the others is a waste. So if they can know more about me to serve me content that I would be more interested in, sounds good to me. Bigger question though is this, is this the right strategy for Facebook? I know they are trying to push the add dollars, but I don’t think they will ever overtake Google, because unlike Facebook, Google serves you the adds when you are interested in a topic, not when you want to see what is happening in your social circles. I think Facebook should rather look at what are their strengths and focus on different avenues for making money, surely pushing adds can’t be the only dollar channel.

  36. All of these capabilities (tracking app usage, location, etc…) can be done by any Android apps with the correct permissions requested. Facebook can do this with the existing FB app, and in their Home app if they choose. So why the concern now? If you are worried about FB’s privacy breaches, then don’t install any FB apps at all. The normal one or Home.

    1. You can always improve on current technologies and capabilities, that’s what FB is trying to do with home. Om’s message is for the great unwashed masses that have no idea that they are the product, not vice versa. Unfortunately, his message has limited reach (grandma in Iowa ain’t reading his tweets or articles) and it’s to the informed.

  37. One of the best and most articulate articles I’ve read on FB and more importantly on privacy in context.

  38. Anyone who argues that privacy is a thing of the past and you should get over it, or that only people with something to hide should fear having no privacy, has never had a stalker.

    Everyone needs to be aware of the erosion of privacy right now, because *right now* (or at least, soon) is the tipping point, after which your intimate details will have leaked out and be forever searchable and accessible by not just your friends, but also:

    your enemies
    predators eyeing your children (knowing your schedule, so they know when your kids are alone)
    government agencies
    insurance companies interested in your doctor visits/medication/recreational activities/etc.
    employers who may not look fondly on your activities outside of work
    potential employers who may decline to employ you because of your personal activities
    criminals looking to steal your account details or your identity, or extort you
    any extreme group who may wish to vilify you for views different from theirs on any number of hot button issues
    etc. etc.

    Corporations wishing to better target us with ads (and our children, and parents, and friends, and…) are actually one of the least of our worries. They are, however, the main ones trying to collect this data. And they’re the ones playing playing fast and loose with it, allowing it to leak out and pass into the hands of other actors like the ones mentioned above. (Where did you check in? When? So, you’re not at home right now and you can be burgled… Or that stalker now knows where you are because you were automatically tagged in a photo or video that has geolocation data and that you had no control over uploading… same goes for insurance companies, government agencies, employers, criminals, etc.)

  39. Here is what is going to happen

    Alot of people will complain, then we will forget, and then will post more and more stuff on facebook.

    Then facebook will come up with something new and the cycle continues.

  40. luv this post. will still install on my note2 as facebook are beyond crap at implicit local personalisation. will make me delete facebook quicker fwiw.

  41. I’m just a little concerned about this matter but still, it itches.

    Can anyone share an alternative that is similar to Facebook’s service, or Google and others for that matter, that has less potential to be “evil”?

    Is there any social network that I can trust more or are we stuck?


    1. Two alternative social networks: identi.ca and joindiaspora.com …currently not as well populated as the “biggies”.

  42. The history of privacy concerns on the internet is one in which service providers have taken incredible risks and liberties with their customer’s privacy. To date, no one has really cared because the perception of return has been so one sided; we get an incredible social network that our aunts and uncles are on in return for a rock climbing ad because we rock climbing: no big deal. But personal security is going to become a hot button issue and FaceBook is the reason why.

  43. All these privacy issues… I’m not sure what on earth they’d do with my photos and my location data? I can only think of targeted ads, but I don’t mind them, rather that then random advertising right?

  44. I feel like the constant uproar over ads is really drowning out a bigger, more important discussion on how these data can be used by law enforcement, politicians, employers business competitors, insurance companies, foreign governments; anyone who stands to gain by learning our secrets and using them against us.

    At least the “destruction of privacy” that comes from seeing better ads helps me in some way, by getting all that Acai berry crap out of my news feed / Gmail.

    The privacy that matters is the kind that keeps insurance companies from denying me coverage because I check in at McDonald’s too often, or a bank from rejecting my loan because several of my Facebook friends have low credit scores.

    And let’s not even get started on what its going to mean to run for President in 20 years when every candidate has been online for most of his/her life.

    There are just so many more dangerous, truly privacy destroying uses of our digital lives than ad targeting, and the amount of airtime they get relative to stuff like this is unforunate.

  45. The current Facebook app on Android can do just the same as the new Facebook Home app so what’s the big deal?

  46. This article should be re-titled, “My List of Absurd Assumptions”. Since you probably regard yourself as a journalist, I ask you: Do facts mean nothing in the blogosphere? Or, are you just spitballing this? At any rate, so Facebook wants to target ads to us. SO WHAT? We’re going to have ads one way or another, and I’d rather have them make productive use of my time and screen real estate than not. But again, it is business as usual to sound the privacy alarm bell, when people have been under corporate and public scrutiny for GENERATIONS.

  47. ANY app can do this if they want to. NOT just facebook. You are going to get fed ads anyway. If you’d prefer them to be irrelevant and a waste of space on your screen than don’t use the app. If you don’t mind getting relevant ads, use it. Stop crying about it.

  48. What makes me go bonkers about this shit is the legions of idiots who put my data on their Facebuck / Googlefuck phone without me having any chance of stopping them. I can get the phone number of total strangers by simply asking some of their friends. This was absolutely impossible just a few years ago. And since everyone is so happy to use Gmail and Facebook without understanding the implications, we really don’t have to argue about things like governments, privacy or common sense. Those days are gone.

  49. If facebook want to track us only to “target (us with) better marketing and advertising messages” like the article suggest, then who cares? What a stupid reason to be against it – most people would rather relevant ads than irrelevant ones.

    I’d be more concerned with other things they might do with your information though if they know everything about you.

  50. What if the ads pushed to you were for things you really were interested in? The upside of this level of granularity is that things really can be tailored to your experience.

  51. An interesting move by Facebook who are now trying to become the hub of your online presence not only on one device, but on all of them (at least the Android ones for now…).

    Whether we like it or not (see privacy issues) it’s important to note how Facebook adapted to the changing role of mobile devices: from communication to lifestyle.

    Here is a bit more on that:

    Facebook Home: How smartphones and tablets are now lifestyle devices


  52. Om, I hear you loud and clear and many people dont look at Facebook as an exchange, yet it really is. FB creates a platform for social interaction in exchange for your personal data and the ability to attach value to that data to make money from advertisers who perceive that value as well.

    The monetization cycle is complete and that is FB’s sole objective. What Zuck tries to do is push to exploit users enough to maximize this objective while maintaining a high level of interaction. The more he con do to exploit your data the more he can charge for it.

    The difference between Zuck and Google is that Zuck disdains privacy as a matter of course and Google side steps the issue whenever possible. As users all you have to do is ask the question; is the loss of privacy worth the social benefit I receive from the service?

    In my case it was a definative NO from the get go as I knew where this would go and he couldnt offer anything compelling enough to make use his service.

    Choice is still volentary in the end no matter how you look at it!

  53. If you don’t like it…..don’t download it. It’s not mandatory. Facebook by nature is designed to be less private. It’s a venue to share your information. If you don’t want you information getting out….don’t use facebook….or the internet for that matter.

  54. When Facebook forced an unauthorized update to their app to my phone, and added nasty permissions that could potentially affect my monthly bill a few weeks ago, that was it for me. I uninstalled all their apps from my phone and tablet. Any company that’s willing to flaunt the rules of the platform like that is not to be trusted, in my opinion.

    This ‘Home’ thing is just as bad. Years ago, before contact syncing was a thing and people stored all their contacts on their SIM cards, I remember having this conversation with friends – the cellphone in your pocket is the final frontier for ultra-personal data. As Om correctly points out, it’s the only device that can give away EVERYTHING if compromised.

    I share darn near everything – I work in social media, and unlike most, I appreciate that by giving up a bit of personal information, the ads that I’m going to see are more likely to be things I’m actually interested in. If I’m going to see ads, I’d rather at least see ones that interest me. That being said, I like to think that I’m still in control. GPS is disabled automatically when I get to my phone – I don’t check in there, I don’t geotag photos taken there, etc. On purpose.

  55. Keep up this fight. Apparently, the average FB user has all the time in the world to play Farmville and chew gum but no time to educate themselves about the issues surrounding modern technology. It’s complicated and that’s how the tech giants want it. We need expert watchdogs ~ thank you Om!

  56. I’m really curious to see how popular Facebook Home becomes. I feel like Facebook hasn’t actually been that successful with pushing out their secondary apps.

    For example, I haven’t really seen that many people who have Facebook Messenger. This is anecdotal, as I haven’t seen very many of my friends who have it. I actually have Facebook messenger, but that’s in lieu of the “actual” Facebook app.

    I feel like there’s a good chance this won’t actually become that popular. I don’t know, I guess we’ll all have to wait and see as it rolls out.

    One easy way to avoid all of these privacy issues is to.. Well.. Not install the Facebook app. That’s how I plan on going about avoiding this. Until they start offering “home only” features that become super important, I guess.

  57. Remember when parents were concerned about how much time their children spent on the home or family computer? How much time they spent chatting with friends while doing their homework. I know many family’s that really tried to monitor use and to define an appropriate “balance” of study, video games, “computers”, phone use (yes, talking). Now fast forward, and we give 10 year olds their own iPhone, in essence their own computer to do with as they see fit. No nanny filters, no restrictions! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a technology person and think for the most part we are enabling our kids and even protecting them by providing a smartphone. We’ve dropped the ball however, when it comes to security and privacy. Almost like we’d just prefer to look the other way.

    The new Facebook phone epitomizes the lack of any semblance of concern.

    Om, this is a great piece, but it’s frightening to think, that this what we’re going to give our children.

    — Howie S.

  58. If anyone saw The Social Network then they know how Zuck feels about privacy. Kind of the same how Google feels. MS same I would presume. Not sure Apple is the same but I will concede that they have gotten worse since Jobs’ death. Good article, Om.

  59. never have been able to understand how better targeted ads or in other words stuff that I would be more likely to purchase is some major problem. OHHHH NO something I want to buy is coming up on my screen as opposed to something that I would never want the horror.

  60. Granted, I haven’t compared the permissions for the current Facebook app with the upcoming Home app, but I would think they could do pretty much any of the things mentioned in the article now, on any phone with a Facebook app installed (with the exception of tracking the launch of third-party applications).

  61. Seriously Om, who has any notions of privacy? Privacy has been over for some time now. Just ask DoubleClick, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, AMX, MasterCard, our Government, etc. etc.etc..

    We the consumer trade our privacy for utility. That’s the deal.

    Wanna use Google search? No problem, hand over your data.
    Wanna use your AMX card and get rewards. No problem, hand over your data.
    Wanna buy on Amazon? No problem, hand over your data.
    Wanna use any smart phone? Guess what you are handing over your data.
    Wanna use any Web site. No problem, hand over your data.
    This goes on and on and on and on…..

    Facebook makes money on user data. But all those users are opting into Facebook’s TOS to use the service. Just like all the companies I mentioned above and many many more…

    We live in a privacyless world. Next topic please…

  62. So basically FB is making FB Home the entry point to the Android UI….completely overriding Google?
    So who gets the Ad $s, when the inevitable Ads start coming on to your home screen?
    And what is stopping other companies from coming up with their ” Home” skins which will keep layering over the UI?
    I think this is not just about privacy but also about the fact that FB is basically hijacking (or maybe putting a Tap on ) the data/info stream going from the handset to Google.

  63. Old news.

    Call me when cameras and mic are set to auto-record continuously for the new “touchless sharing” feature.

  64. Each of them saves every keystroke, every edit, every thing you ever said or did to pin down what you are in what amounts to a really strange and alien study.

    Silly parsing engines, connection readers, influencer indentifiers, whatever else they’re doing it’s trying to establish patterns of behavior … disgusting observation of all of our intimate humanity.

    All your data is scanned. Every communication. People act like it’s part of the deal but it’s not.

    Facebook reflects Mark Zuckerberg’s really odd personality and value system. It reeks of his personality. he is trying to have people live their whole lives in the shadow of that blue F logo. Dude it’s not going to work, stop trying to be a monopoly!

  65. Fuckerburg got all cheesed off when someone posted his family holidays on FB! Stalk the stalker ! Anyone who sees him should photograph his every move and use the GPS TO LET PEOPLE KNOW WHERE HE IS!!!! Just saying! He’s helped to ensure that big brother is on us! Well – there are a lot of people out there and he can’t stay locked up in his house forever! POST! POST! POST!!!!!!!!

  66. I can share your sentiment with privacy- but the issue hardly means anything to me, at least for the time being.

    When the Facebook AI System becomes Self-aware on August 29th, 2037 and positions itself toward extinction of the human race (Terminator, anyone?), maybe then I will be concerned with Facebook and other services having the *potential* of knowing where I sleep.

    Those who recognize privacy risks are often well-equipped with the knowledge to avoid them- or at least know how where to go to attain such knowledge.

    But anyway,

    I use Facebook fairly often, and probably won’t even download this app.

    -There’s nothing in it for me. I don’t need to know what others are doing all times of the day.
    -I don’t see much of an advantage to using “Home” vs using the app / widget or my PC.

    I suppose this app isn’t for me.

    -This app is for people seeking to easily extend their online social activity and looking to further integrate it into their daily lives.

    But more importantly, this app is for the investors.

    Teams of analysts and number-crunchers have determined that this will be a solid move for Facebook.
    -It stirs the pot, generates buzz, and plenty of people will use it.
    -Aside from sales revenue, the HTC First will bring Facebook to the fingertips of even more users, and entices existing users to use Facebook more.

    -More Users + Increased Usage = Increased potential ad revenue
    -Increased Ad Revenue = Happy Investors

  67. Agree with some of the comments below. “Privacy” has gone through different definitions over the years. What your grandpa thought was private in the 1920s is totally different than what your kids think is private in the 2020s.

    I would argue more and more people actually like this “invasion of privacy” or at least will trade their privacy for the service they are being provided (by Google, Apple, Facebook, etc).

    Just a thought. Could be totally wrong.

  68. I too worried but as long as I have the option to opt out, I am fine. People want to use it can use this. I hope iOS keep fb out of lock screen.

  69. Reblogged this on David Ryan and commented:
    Om Malik brings excellent privacy concerns about Facebook Home.
    We are always going to be served ads. The question is: do you value your privacy or do you value being served hyper-relevant ads?

  70. Lol some people here are way too paranoid. If you think Facebook will be watching you just don’t get the phone. No one is forcing you to get it. Furthermore Google, Amazon and Facebook do this already. As does every ad supported app you’ve downloaded.

  71. How unfair. This piece is supposition reported as fact. This presentation must be directed at those who are more easily taken in by loose logic…as if trying to create pandemonium over a lower peanut count in a cracker jack box.

  72. Kindle Fire is considerably more wired for user surveillance than Google’s Android products. And if you are a heavy user of Facebook now, the further loss of privacy is only a small increment.

    Facebook Home sets a new standard for deep integration of one’s ecosystem into Android without removing Google’s ecosystem. more app developers should start thinking this way. not to say that intrusiveness should be part of it, but the deep integration into Android’s system of intent filters and modularity is something many developers don’t consider, having developed their apps for the more constrained app environment on iOS first.

  73. @Om you could do better. lets see,
    – sensationalist article: check
    – missing facts on what facebook will do or not do: check
    – missing pre-existing practices from Google, Apple, others: check

    Next time please try a bit harder.

  74. If your app needs a custom OS and phone to run, as we say in Hindi “deal me kuch kaala”… Something very wrong is afoot 🙂

  75. This is why facebook sucks and has sucked since the beginning. Even the website itself is a horribly calculated and hard to navigate layout that obfuscates the minimal control over privacy you have. The average facebooker doesn’t even know or care about how this all works. It just like Zuck said in that infamous chat with a friend:

    Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

    Zuck: Just ask.

    Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

    [Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

    Zuck: People just submitted it.

    Zuck: I don’t know why.

    Zuck: They “trust me”

    Zuck: Dumb F#CK$

  76. After reading the comments below I think my biggest concern with this is FBs target audience. They target kids who may not have the skill set necessary to make an educated decision about whether or not it is wise to open this door.

  77. Facebook may be a repeat offender on privacy changes but I do not think it is accidental, rather FB push the boundary and seeing where it gets pushback. The FB business is built around sharing and the more they open this up the better their business model. I have more concern about Google at the moment.
    FB is not the problem. Privacy is being breached by the users or precisely their naivety.
    It would take me less than an hour to duplicate the identity of ‘friend’ or a friend of a friend. The stuff that people think it is okay to put up astonishes me. I had to explain to someone on the weekend who was going to send someone a ‘private’ message that NOTHING is private once you let it go.

  78. Facebook can already do all the things you fear they will do on iOS or Android. On Android you get a warning when you install the current app that tells you what they can do. On iOS you do not get any warning because the functionality is baked right into the iPhone now.

    Any app that Facebook tries to make for Android will have to compete directly with everybody else making apps. Google does not have any draconian anti-competition nonsense like Apple does, where Apple will strike down a better app if their feelings get hurt by a better developer. This is a GOOD thing. It means we get the best apps possible. If Facebook wants to make me an outstanding Google Drive replacement, or Gmail alternative, and it’s clearly better, that’s fantastic. Yay. That’s the entire POINT to competition.

    Note: Please enable Google Auth. Everybody else has it.

    Thank You

  79. What most everyone responding here is failing to realize is that this is a warning of yet another big business invasion of privacy and peace of mind bent on squeezing more of your personal time and energies into manipulating devices with said invasive application, sold on the premise of fun and entertainment, but very much so built on the foundation of grouping and categorizing human beings into clusters of manipulable herds, ripe for the picking. At no time in the article did he mention the others because that is common knowledge and many topics about of the invasions of Google already. Must one be redundant, as a technology writer? Wouldn’t it seem that he is not in the loop if he was writing about all the others too? It was a singular warning of a new threat and very well done. Thank you for the fine article. Have a great day everyone!

  80. iOS apps can deduce your home address using GPS API, but won’t let another application to run like a dashboard, i remember some time ago some API made to allow partners gathering personal data.

  81. One ramification of Facebook Home not mentioned in the article is how — if Home becomes widely adopted — it may impact corporate IT departments that have instituted bring your own device/BYOD programs. It may not just be personal privacy that is at risk over time, but employee privacy and corporate data. A blog post at http://bit.ly/12u1J0A raises some of these concerns.

    – Dwight Davis (http://bit.ly/VeacEJ)

  82. The deal with the devil is done. Zuckerberg and my own children are of the “Privacy — get over it” school of thought and perhaps, they are better people for it. There is a quiet rebellion against living public and private and Facebook is a manifestation of that .

    the fact that it’s ad subsidized? The Medicis, Madison Ave. — someone always subsidizes culture.

  83. I don’t see why anyone cares… the idiots who install something like Facebook Home deserve what they get. Same goes for people too stupid to install Adblock. I don’t even SEE Google Ads… if they’re “selling” me to advertisers, the advertisers are getting ripped off, because I never see any ads on the internet! All of this crap is easily circumvented. It’s 2013 people, assume every corporation is scum, and act accordingly.

  84. This are good news for the iPhone and the Windows phone!! people that are not stupid will not get that HTC or any android with that useless feature. Why should share everything with facebook? and FOR FREE? what is next, they are going to have a direct access to my bank account and mortgage?

  85. Regarding GPS, correct me if I’m wrong but couldn’t the iOS Facebook app occasionally wake up, read the GPS, and go back to sleep, as it is today? Assuming you’ve granted Facebook access to Location services?

    Before I revoked Facebook’s access to GPS, first thing I would see whenever i launched the app, was the GPS indicator flicker on for a few seconds. Facebook is already watching you as it is.

  86. hmmm but this gps thing… shouldn’t it only be able to be done if you actually KEEP THE GPS ON ALL THE TIME?? if you have clicked the option on your phone to allow android have your gps location? I’m not saying facebook isn’t taking bits and bits of privacy matters but… if the exact location is the problem here… shouldn’t you be able to avoid this with ANY app by not using the gps function at all times?? Maybe I’m not seeing the whole picture here, if I’m wrong please correct me, I may not understand that much of the techs behind this thing but from what I understand this should only happen if you allow the gps track on your phone, right? so if you keep it off and only tag on locations (if you want to) from time to time like people do on facebook fully knowing that they’re sharing a location they are or were in… then what is the issue here??

  87. Turn your GPS off…
    Turn your phone off…
    Turn off GPS function in the app…
    I mean mitigating these issues isn’t exactly the hardest thing to do in the world.

  88. I think the way Facebook will die will end up being because of privacy. Many people I know have jumped ship because of this reason and I can see people continuing to jump ship until something is done and faith is restored in Facebook.

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