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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | post

Another Low for Facebook

by Neal O'Farrell on

Because of yet another unbelievably tasteless tweak in Facebook's already less-than-trusted commitment to user privacy, Facebook's own founder Mark Zuckerberg recently found himself unwittingly enlisted in the North American Man/Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA.

For those of you not familiar (and I had to look it up too), NAMBLA has been described as is a pedophile advocacy organization that wants to abolish age of consent laws and decriminalize adult sexual contact with minors. You'd think the big story of the day would be that such a prominent billionaire would be caught supporting such an organization in any way, especially given the story came out at the same time as the controversial movie The Social Network that presented a less-than-flattering version of the birth of Facebook and the rise of its founder.

Instead the real story was about how yet another attempt by Facebook to turn privacy on its head can end up snaring innocent victims in very uncomfortable, awkward, and even life-changing situations. In the latest case of privacy abuse, Facebook quietly introduced a feature that allows any of your friends to "join" you and all their other friends in any club, organization or group they want to. Without your permission. And there's nothing you can do about it.

Well, not quite nothing. In an interview with PC World, a representative of Facebook offered the following advice:

“If you have a friend that is adding you to groups you do not want to belong to, or they are behaving in a way that bothers you, you can tell them to stop doing it, block them or remove them as a friend — and they will no longer ever have the ability to add you to any group."

The spokesperson added, “If you don’t trust someone to look out for you when making these types of decisions on the site, we’d suggest that you shouldn’t be friends on Facebook.”

Have I used the word unbelievable so far? So Facebook's advice is to choose your friends carefully, and un-friend them if they drop you in the pig pen. But beyond that, you can't stop them enlisting you and your good name in whatever frightening fringe group they choose. You can be opted in without your permission, but you can't opt yourself out.

Imagine the fun you could have with that? Especially if you're about to dump a particular friend for a perceived slight but they don't know it yet. And how do you explain to a spouse, friend, family member, employer or police officer that while you're listed as a member or supporter, you don't actually support pedophilia? Your friend made you do it? How about we all just stop being Friends with Facebook? See how they like that. NAMFA. National Association for Mankind/Facebook Aggravation.

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