This just in from Caroline McCarthy of Webware: “Report: Facebook threatens to ban Gawker’s Denton“!
So here’s what went down. Just this past Tuesday, Nick Denton, founder of the blog network Gawker Media, published the article “Emily Brill: The Second Generation“, where he featured some very unflattering screenshots taken from a Facebook member’s profile page. This is after Denton “took over as managing editor of Gawker.com this month after several staff departures,” reports McCarthy.
The victim is 25-year-old Emily Brill, daughter of Steven Brill, the founder of
CourtTV (I mean truTV), American Lawyer Magazine, and numerous other companies. The screenshots included a set of photos comparing Emily in a bikini against an older college photo where she was “significantly heavier,” adds McCarthy.
This could result in Denton being banned from Facebook.
Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time information from someone’s Facebook profile has been used against them. Back in August 2007, Lucy Morrow Caldwell of Slate Magazine published the article “Daddy Dearest: Rudy Giuliani’s daughter is supporting Barack Obama“. Since both Caldwell and the 17-year-old Caroline Giuliani are both part of the Harvard network, Caldwell was able to see that Giuliani listed her political view as “liberal” and joined the Facebook group “Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack).” She has since withdrawn from the group.
Also, back in October 2007, Owen Thomas of Valleywag published the article “Confirmed: Facebook and Microsoft flacks make friends before deal announcement” after noticing that Brandee Barker, head of PR at Facebook, added Adam Sohn, head of marketing PR at Microsoft (MSFT), as a friend. “Just buddies?” wrote Thomas. “I think not. But I’m sure writing up the press release announcing Microsoft’s investment and ad deal will make them fast friends, indeed.”
This almost led to Thomas being banned from Facebook too, his insiders told him.
What’s this mean for you and I? Well, for one, don’t post any naked photos of yourself on Facebook, or anywhere else online for that matter. “Well, duh Mike, that’s a no-brainer,” you say? Sorry kids, practicing safe Facebooking still means you could catch a case of public crabs. (Only abstinence is the true protection, but what’s the fun in that?) Let me explain.
- Someone else could upload photos of you
And if that person tags you in the photos, the photo is now linked to you. Fortunately, you can remove your tag from photos (and videos too). Whew.
- Strangers may be able to see your profile
McCarthy notes that it’s not clear whether Denton and Brill are friends on Facebook, but since both are members of the New York regional network, there’s a chance he could have seen her profile without being directly connected. For instance, if someone pokes you, you can see their profile. So if you poke back, they can see your profile. Fortunately, you can control what they see by altering your Poke, Message and Friend Request Settings.
- Strangers could see your photos if they have your album’s URL
According to Thomas, Facebook privacy is an illusion. Someone gave him the exact URL to a photo album of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, despite not being directly connected to him. This allowed Thomas (and any of us) to view the entire album. Unfortunately, there’s no way to counter this at the moment, though I’m guessing Facebook’s engineers are working on this.
How does Denton feel about being banned from a potentially plump source of stories? As Peter Kafka of Silicon Alley Insider writes in “Nick Denton’s Gawker Takes On Scientologists, Facebook, Wins“:
Denton tells us he doesn’t care if Facebook boots him off the social network: “I was getting bored of Facebook, anyway.” (Note to Gawker Media employees: Yes, we know Denton forced you all to join Facebook last spring. We don’t know whether this means you’re off the hook, though.)
And for the curious stalkers out there, sorry to dash your hopes, but “perhaps due to the Gawker incident, Emily Brill’s Facebook profile is no longer publicly searchable,” says McCarthy. Which is for the best; this Paris-Hilton-esque spotlight must’ve been Hell for her.