IT Management Minicase Facebook Users Want to Control More of Their Personal Information While in 2010 Facebook reported having 500 million global users of their

IT Management Minicase Facebook Users Want to Control More of Their Personal Information While in 2010 Facebook reported having 500 million global users of their social networking site, at the same time some people are leaving Facebook because the site changed its rules such that a lot of personal information—like where you went to school, where you work, and what music you like—now gets made public by default. Some information is even shared with companies that are special partners of Facebook, such as Yelp, Pandora, and Microsoft. While there are ways to protect some of this information by tinkering with the privacy settings on Facebook, it is tricky to figure out the settings. At the end of 2009 Facebook changed the default settings on its privacy controls so that individual’s personal information would be shared with everyone on the network rather than selected friends. Facebook argued that this reflected a shift in society toward greater openness and noted that users could still adjust privacy settings back again. Privacy activists have lobbied for it to be reversed. Activists fear that people are being lured into Facebook with the promise of a fun, free service, and do not realize that they are paying for it by giving up a lot of their personal information. Facebook then attempts to monetize the data entered by users by selling it to advertisers that want to send targeted messages. The switch should not have come as a surprise. Initially, many social networks impose fairly tough privacy policies in order to attract and reassure users. However, when more users join, controls are gradually loosened to encourage more sharing. As people share more information, Facebook can increase the traffic against which it sells advertising. The more Facebook learns about users’ likes and dislikes, the better it can target ads that generate hundreds of millions of dollars. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Why did Facebook decide to make it more difficult for users to control who has access to the personal information they post on the Web site? 2. Which type of control is of concern to the Facebook users and privacy activists—feed forward, concurrent, or feedback control? (Use the internet to research these concepts) 3. Should Facebook use more control in managing how the information is used among the users of the social networking Web site? What is the basis of your answer?

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