In the wake of the flap involving Facebook's Beacon program, which circulates information about a user's online purchases from third-party retailers to relevant Facebook friends, Internet privacy is coming under ever-increasing scrutiny. One discouraging conclusion from a panel of privacy experts at today's State of the Net conference is that it's almost impossible to keep putatively private data out of sight on the Internet.
That's all well and good, UC Berkeley's Danah Boyd said, but true transparency in a social context is rare because your friends have data about you that they may in turn share with others. "You don't necessarily have a good idea of how you've been 'outed' by the people around you," she said.
Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly defended Facebook's efforts to protect privacy saying that society in general makes it inherently difficult to keep things private. "We've always erred on the side of giving you control, not perfect control, because that doesn't exist in the real world."