While we've always known that Facebook has the final say in how people use its service, a new study reveals just how effectively the social network can nudge its members to behave in ways Facebook might consider most fitting.
An unprecedented study from Carnegie Mellon University followed the privacy practices of 5,076 Facebook users over six years, between 2005 and 2011. Researchers found that during the first four years, users steadily limited what personal data was visible to strangers within their school network. Yet through changes Facebook introduced to its platform in 2009 and 2010, the social network actually succeeded in reversing some users' inclination to avoid public disclosure of their data.
In fact, the social network's new policies were not only able to partly override an active desire not to post personal details publicly, but they have so far kept such disclosures from sinking back to their lower levels, according to the study. They also found that even as people sought to limit what strangers could learn about them from their Facebook profiles, they actually increased what information they shared with their friends.