Facebook Home is now available for (some) Android devices, aside from its launch device, the HTC First. It is easy to understand this direction that Facebook has chosen to take. There are many users who would find something like Facebook Home useful and would like it: people who use their mobile devices primarily to connect with their Friends and share likes, updates, photos, and other such social activities.
However, people are becoming genuinely concerned about how much of our data is ending up in the hands of Internet companies. Facebook Home doesn’t collect new types of information that existing apps already don’t, as their officials went at some length to explain. The concern though is that they said nothing about the quantity of data that will be gathered. This in and of itself is of great value to Facebook; increasing the amount of data to correlate can only “improve” what Facebook knows about its users.
What we would suggest is for people to be genuinely mindful and thoughtful about what they do share online. Do you really have to share that photo? Do you really want to send this status update out into the public, where future friends, partners, and employers will be able to find it down the road? A good way to moderate the sharing of information is through privacy scanners, (which we offer for free in Google Play, and is a built-in feature in Trend Micro™ Titanium™ Security) but of course the users’ mindset would play a crucial part.
One more thing to consider is how companies will treat our data if it’s no longer in use. Google recently released the Inactive Account Manager, which lets Google know what to do with your data if you’re no longer accessing Google. While the advertised use is for someone’s death, it could easily be used for less morbid uses. In this case, if you want Google to forget about you, just stay away for at least three months. Google deserves kudos for steps like these, and other companies would be well encouraged to follow suit.
In the end, users should remember one thing: nothing ever goes away on the Internet.
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