If a Facebook profile is private, is it for public consumption?

I ask this question because PAWS is after a Facebook user who posted pics of a dog on a clothesline.  A man is also on trial over Twitter ‘affair’.  Not to say that the Facebook user is right, or that PAWS is wrong, I ask this question in general.  I think we need to redefine what is public, and what is private on the Internet. I think it could mean a difference between defamation or crime someday.

If a profile on Facebook or on twitter, set to private, and only N people are allowed to see that profile, and not the public, does it translate to the same way as we hold privacy in our home?  Or is it then equivalent to a conversation between two friends or a group of people?  Is there a difference if we say this thread is private?  Does it elevate the correspondence and communication to a certain degree of confidentiality?

If a profile is locked private does it have bearing on Information published without the consent of the person who first said so?  Should that then be inadmissible as evidence?

What say you Internet?

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/gmanews/status/80985165471559680″]

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Image credit: Courtesy, Facebook

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • Information privacy is tricky. Because of the “social network” character of sites such as Facebook and Twitter, there is a lower expectation of privacy when a user provides his/her personal information to the website. For example, even when an FB or Twitter account is set as private, this does not prevent either website from allowing other users to search for the profile using any identifiable bit of information (user handle, real name, email address). So on that level alone we have a lower expectation of privacy, regardless of your privacy settings. Nevertheless, since the use of the privacy settings is part of the service sites like FB provide, then once used there is at least that expectation that the information they set as private will, in fact, be private, and will never be publicly displayed nor shared.

    In Jerzon’s case, as with the man who blogged about his wife’s affair, it can be argued that by placing the material in question on the Internet, without any restrictions on access, we can presume that they had meant for the material to be accessed and viewed by the public. And if it’s in public domain, then it’s fair game.

    The hypothetical example in the last part of your article is somewhat different, and honestly doesn’t apply to the present cases. The answer would be found in the laws on criminal procedure somewhere. Personally, if the info was obtained/shared legally, then it should be admissible.