Home opinion-and-analysis Fuzzy Logic Randi Zuckerberg’s photo sharing privacy snafu stuff-up

Randi Zuckerberg’s photo sharing privacy snafu stuff-up

The outrageous hypocrisy of Randi Zuckerberg, former Facebook Marketing manager and sister of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has been on full display with the lamentation of a privacy lapse and the lack of “human decency” that saw a private family photo shared to the wider Internet.

Facebook is the company that takes your privacy and puts it into a shredder on a regular basis, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg regularly wheeled out to apologise for whatever is the latest Facebook privacy scandal.

Facebook’s customers aren’t you, the users, but advertising agencies or anyone else that can pay for access to the data on all the users, thus making users the product.

Because Facebook is free, and purportedly “always will be”, the company doesn’t charge end-users a subscription fee, but certainly does sell advertising, while offering users the ability to “promote posts” to followers. It has also floated the ideas of video ads in timelines and letting strangers pay $1 per email guarantee delivery of a message into your Facebook email inbox.

There’s also the very recent and appalling Instagram scandal which we wrote about earlier this week. 

The latest Facebook scandal, however, comes a little out of left field, and while Mark Zuckerberg is literally part of the picture, or rather Randi Zuckerberg’s photo, it his sister, Randi, who has landed in an unexpected patch of hot water.

As explained over at the brilliant summation of the situation and take-down of Randi Zuckerberg’s stunning hypocrisy by ReadWrite.com’s Dan Lyons, Ms Zuckerberg seemingly shared a photo while thinking it was to close friends only.

Unfortunately, a photo was shared to friends of friends by mistake, though a specific setting not being unticked in the photo sharing settings on Facebook, with someone then deciding to publish the photo they’d seen appear at the top of their feed and thus thinking it was a publicly shared photo, to the Internet at large.

Dan Lyons’ piece has the photo, with family members standing in the kitchen making funny faces at the things they’re supposed to be seeing from Facebook’s new messaging app, Poke, also in the news for creepily being an enabler of sexting messages - and for those messages being accessible on the device afterwards if you know how to access them, even though the messages are supposed to "disappear" after a set time.

Because the person that shared the photo did so without Ms Zuckerberg’s "permission", and has since apologised for having shared it, Randi went on a rant, decrying the lack of “human decency” in sharing something without asking the photographer’s permission first, something which was apparently "way uncool". I wonder if Mr Zuckerberg is listening?

Of course, Facebook is famous for helping itself to the data of its users, and while the company would argue it lets users know of changes to its terms and conditions, Mr Lyons notes that while Facebook once had a super easy to understand privacy policy, it has since morphed into a document you might need a law degree to fully understand.

My observation of this is that many people presumably don't understand what it is they're agreeing to when they click "I accept" on all manner of things, and with companies clearly giving themselves the right not only to all manner of once heretofore private information, location information, messages, photos and more, but also to change those terms and conditions in any way it likes in the future, whether for better or worse, with little recourse to the end user. 

Other than to quit using the service in question, of course, but not everyone wants to do that, and in the absense of a privacy-respecting social network, which may be an oxymoron, it's no surprise that it has been widely observed that even an inner-member of the Zuckerberg clan can be tripped up by Facebook's own privacy settings.

Dan Lyons then goes on to explain a range of disturbing actions Facebook has taken, including an episode where it violated US Federal Law - an eyeopening list you must read. 

All the while, Facebook wants us to trust it, but if the company’s own former Marketing manager and the sister of the CEO and Founder of Facebook is tripped up by what are obviously fiddly privacy settings, which can unexpectedly end up meaning "no privacy" if set incorrectly or even used at all given the changes made to things on an ongoing basis, you just have to wonder what is going on at the world’s sneakiest and most cunning social network.

Hopefully Randi Zuckerberg’s misadventures in social media are a stark lesson for her brother, Mark Zuckerberg.

Sadly, however, given Facebook’s propensity to ask for forgiveness rather than permission while introducing startling or startlingly creepy “features”, I’m not holding out much hope that the this latest privacy scandal will change Facebook’s behaviour in the slightest.

Finally, if you want to know which privacy setting tripped up Ms Zuckerberg, and how you can avoid befalling the same fate (at least for now), take a look at this Forbes article for the details.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.