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    BBC Click: Facebook’s battle with privacy and profit

    BBC Click, the media group’s technology program, focuses on the privacy questions and controversies surrounding social-networking site Facebook. Recently, the Washington Post assessed the growth of Facebook (its membership recently hit 500 million) and the problems that have arisen with the company, including privacy controversies. USA Today also recently reported on the social-networking site’s troubles over its privacy policies.

    BBC Click says:

    In a little over six years, Facebook has gained more than 500 million users and an estimated value of around $10bn (£6.6bn). But the social networking site has also tied itself in knots over privacy, so much so that German data officials are now taking the company to court. […]

    Facebook’s mop-up operation included what it called “simplified” privacy settings. But has the company reached a crisis moment, where people begin to wonder whether the benefits of Facebook outweigh the costs? […]

    Some families rely on the privacy settings, settings that Facebook changed the default values of in December 2009 so that personal information would be shared with everyone.

    And in the company’s latest “instant personalisation” innovation, “everyone” now includes other websites you might visit.

    It is a game of privacy cat and mouse that has prompted some users to rebel and others to unconsciously outsmart Facebook. […]

    Facebook’s future could be complicated. Its business model is under challenge from data commissioners in Europe, where personal details are protected by law.

    And while users are far from leaving Facebook in droves, they might think twice if something like Diaspora works out – a social networking site currently under development that aims to put privacy at its core.

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