Quick Edit | Privacy worries

Quick Edit | Privacy worries

The debate over privacy can often seem abstract and theoretical—which makes the occasional tangible case all the more eloquent.

In the US recently, three men burgled 18 houses by monitoring the updates of residents announcing vacation plans on Facebook. The thieves were not “friends" of their victims; the vacationers were simply unaware of their default privacy settings, and of who could see their updates.

This is another argument for keeping default settings on maximum privacy. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, thinks otherwise; in a profile this week in the New Yorker, he says of Facebook’s loose privacy policies: “[P]eople will probably criticize us for this for a long time, but we just believe that this is the right thing to do." That view is hardly tenable: If Facebook users want more privacy—and they will, if abuses of personal information persist—Zuckerberg will have to relinquish his dubious stance.

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