People post all sorts of status update messages to friends on Facebook, many of which they never intend to make public.But Storify, a social media curation tool, occasionally brings them to light. According to AGBeat, it can surface all updates, no matter a person’s Facebook privacy settings.* It also pulls in the person’s photo, name and time stamp along with their Facebook status message.
Julie Pippert, Founder and Director of Artful Media Group, discovered the Storify workaround. She accidentally pulled a message from a friend using Storify. It upset her friend, who thought her privacy settings were set to the max.
“I felt so terrible about what happened that I started digging and checking,” Pippert told AGBeat. “And I figured out that although anything can be copied, screen captured or otherwise shared, anyone who installs the Storify app can do it with one click, even if it is marked or otherwise set to be private.”
Storify also sort of makes private tweets accessible, although not embeddable through its service. If a Storify user wants to view and use a private tweet, the message will pop up on Twitter, but the screen will darken. The message is still readable but it’s tough to pull and share.
Storify says AG’s report isn’t really true. It only shows messages the person would be able to see themselves on the social networks.* So because Pippert was friends with the person who had strict privacy settings, she was able to see her status update on Storify and pull it. But a total stranger wouldn’t be able to find it on Storify.
Still, it’s easy to see why Pippert didn’t realise her friend had a private account. There was no notification on Storify telling her otherwise. Storify made it really easy to pull the message and share it with a wider audience, despite the privacy settings the friend made on Facebook itself.
Right now, there isn’t a way to stop yourself from occasionally showing up in Storify searches, other than to stop sharing completely.
For more on the privacy flaw, head over to AGBeat.
*Update: Storify has addressed the privacy concerns in a blog post. Its co-founder writes:
“To clarify, we want to reassure you that Storify does not make anything public that hasn’t been collected by a user and published in a story. Also, Storify users do NOT have access to content on the web that they couldn’t otherwise see themselves.
“…By using our bookmarklet or Chrome browser plugin, you can indeed collect text, photos and video from all around the web, including what is visible to you on Facebook. That media may not have been intended for a wider audience, but it’s up to you if you want to publish it more widely. This is something you could do using Storify, but also by copy and pasting the text or simply taking a screenshot.
“We believe strongly in freedom of expression and democratization of media in the Internet age. Anyone can now easily and cheaply publish to the web and reach a global audience. That also means each of us with this power must consider how we use it.
“On the other side, we also all must realise that everything we post that is viewable by someone else can be easily shared more widely. So you should always think about what you post — especially on Facebook when using your real name.”
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