Other than the "Red Shirt Movement" in Thailand there is also a movement to stop using Facebook. This all started when Facebook announce their "Open Graph API" initiative. I am not going to explain the details of this API here, because there are extensive documentations on Facebook's Developers web site. The reason for concern is not because Facebook has opened its API, but how Facebook is doing so and the side effects of these actions.

From the beginning, users of Facebook have used it as a private network where people share personal information with only people they desire and no one else. In recent days/months due to various changes to Facebook it has betrayed this trust that over 400 million Facebook users have placed on the site.

One may argue that Facebook does have many privacy settings (100s), and these settings are design to protect the personal information of a user's account. Unfortunately Facebook set the default for these settings to allow "everyone" access to these personal data. So if a user is not familiar or not aware of these privacy settings, his personal information, which were originally private will all become automatically public.

Facebook's responds to these concerns from users by saying that any information posted to the Internet are public. This statement is correct, as I had already explained in my post Dangers of Young Generations on The Net, but this does not justify their recent actions.

The reason why people are so angry with Facebook is because Facebook originally established itself as a private network. So private that only people from certain US universities can join network. Even then only people that a user approves can see his personal information. Unlike services like Twitter and others, where the site/service owners explicitly remind their users the information submitted are public. In the recent months Facebook quietly changed this and began publicizing users' personal data onto the Internet and search engines. Each time Facebook does this, users will have to carefully examine Facebook's actions and revisit their Privacy settings to ensure proper personal privacy is maintained.

Due to Facebook's recent actions and attitudes toward personal privacy, the We're Quitting Facebook movement is asking people who agree with them to quit Facebook and delete their account on the site. To make this impact more public, they asked everyone to do it together on May 31st.

Unfortunately for many deleting their Facebook accounts is not an option. One reason may be because your Facebook account is associated with a Facebook Fan page, which you are an owner or administrator to. Deleting the Personal Facebook account will prevent you from managing these Fan pages.

If you're like me, belongs to the group of users who are concern with Facebook's exposure of our private data but do not want to delete your Facebook account, then the following will be the steps you should take:

  1. Log into Facebook.
  2. Go to the Facebook Edit Profile page.
  3. Go into each section:
    • Basic Information
    • Profile Picture
    • Relationships
    • Likes and Interests
    • Education and Work
    • Contact Information

    within this page and remove all content that you will not want to published on the Internet. Don't take into consideration your Facebook Privacy settings, because Facebook may change the meaning of these settings anytime.

If you are not administering any Facebook Fan page, you should still do the above and then deactivate your account.

If you want to voice your opinions you can leave them here as comments below and/or post them on the Facebook Site Governance Fan page.


Confidential Yellow EnvelopToday there was a report that a staff of the Hong Kong Immigration department accidentally allowed a highly sensitive confidential document to be uploaded onto the P2P network, Foxy. Reportedly, the documented uploaded to the P2P network is a document that contains personal information of individuals who were refused entry into Hong Kong, including the reasons and factors that lead to Hong Kong Immigration department to make such ruling. It is also reported that the reason this staff of the Hong Kong Immigration took this document home onto his computer, is because he is a new staff and wanted to take some cases home to study the associate procedures.

The Hong Kong Immigration claims that they had since removed this confidential document from the staff's computer and from the Foxy P2P network. They also claim that the said document can no longer be found on the Internet.

As many of you know, anything uploaded to the Internet will most likely be on the Net forever. Depending on the desirability of the file it could spread like wild fire on the Net. Allegedly this file was named "Private xxxxxx.doc", which is quite attractive to common users of P2P networks.

One thing going for the Hong Kong Immigration department, is that the Foxy P2P network is popular among Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China citizens. Therefore, even a file with the word "Private" on it, may not draw too much attention among these users.

What I don't understand is how can something like this happen in a city like Hong Kong. In most cases, Hong Kong is a modern cosmopolitan financial hub. Unlike its homeland, China, does have human rights, free of speech, free press, privacy policies, etc.

The privacy polices in Hong Kong is very lacking. If something is not done soon there may be more cases of confidential information leaked in wild or worst, more prevalent identify thefts.

I found out today, that Privacy laws in Hong Kong is extremely deficient. Although, there are laws to protect personal privacy of every citizens of Hong Kong. There are no laws to hold employees of institutions that manage and handle individual private data/information.

Without this accountability resulted in situations like the one today with the staff of the Hong Kong Immigration department. It is only a few days ago another case of personal data was leaked at the Hong Kong Hospital Authority. Similar case also happened with the Police department.

It is not that Hong Kong government offices are that much more vulnerable than most western countries/cities. There are similar cases in the United States and United Kingdom, both involved respective law enforcement departments.

So what so different in Hong Kong, I believe is the lack of accountability for the front-line handlers of these personal data of individuals. I do believe that it is not the lack of education or awareness of these front-line handlers. These same individuals if it comes to their own personal data, I believe they would be most diligent.

I think it is time for Hong Kong government to revamp the privacy laws, to ensure all parties in the chain-of-handlers are held accountable for the protection of this information they are appointed to handle.