Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Deletion of Facebook Account (and) Privacy Rights Violations

Yesterday, we were amazed to see -- on an unrelated online page -- a banner advertisement featuring five profile photos of five of our own Facebook friends, who were unknowingly being pictured there as "Yahoo users"!

Privacy violations at Facebook have reached such proportions that we today have deleted our Facebook account, and we suggest you do the same.

Deletion of a Facebook account is not so simple. We only found the requisite link today at our Facebook account site online after resorting to the Facebook "help" menu item and entering "delete account" in the keyword box .

If Facebook currently has the option to deactivate or delete a Facebook user account in its normal account management settings, we were unable to find it.

We are guessing that this needle in a haystack situation is "by design" to make it difficult to find "account deletion" and leave Facebook.

In any case, we "deleted" our Facebook account today, although we were informed that the account would first only be "deactivated" for the next 14 days, during which we could reactivate it.

The whole thing reminded us of trying to cancel a client user's anti-virus program subscription at McAfee some years ago, which proved to be a complex and laborious undertaking and not even possible online, even though subscribing online had been the easiest thing in the world.

We think that it is prima facie fraud to entice users to enter subscription contracts easily but at the same time to make legal cancellation of such subscriptions a great expense of time and effort for users, indeed, very difficult or impossible for normal users not well versed in online or related communications technology and/or practices.

The reason for our account deletion is the apparent virtually unregulated privacy encroachments being committed by Facebook, violations which regulatory authorities such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or perhaps even the DOJ Antitrust Division should long ago have stopped before they got out of hand. 

The use of private actions and private photos for commercial purposes falls in our category of being "strictly illegal".

We are very certain that such exploitation of private information, regardless of the unilateral terms of use of Facebook, is illegal, because there has been no arms-length bargaining to arrive at exploiting, uncompensated uses of such private information.

Frankly, if we were to advise young people in law schools today, we would advise a good number of them to go into "social networking law", as you will have a lot of work to do in the future.

We ourselves will remain on the lookout for some smart young people to come up with a normal social networking portal that respects user privacy and can figure out a way to make money without violating that user privacy.

We have nothing against online advertisements, by the way, we simply do not want to see our own uncompensated visage or the uncompensated visages of unknowing, uncompensated friends being posted online as alleged "testimonials" for a product, whereby private activities and photos are being diabolically used for the commercial profit of some greedy company.

That is a terrible "Brave New World" that in our opinion starts to go beyond what even George Orwell imagined.

So, ladies and gentlemen of the FTC, the ball is in YOUR court.
The time for quick and decisive action is LONG past.
What excuse do you have for not acting?
Do we need to press your "like" button?
As if users knew what pressing that button means!

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