Fatal flaw in Facebook’s privacy promises?

I follow Calvin and Hobbes on Facebook. And some of the cartoon strips are such gems that I cannot help but share them beyond Facebook. Given Calvin and Hobbes has a public page and makes its posts public, I can just copy the post’s URL and share it on Twitter. But, like many others, I hate sharing links from Facebook on Twitter. Mostly because it loads slowly on mobile or asks people to sign in, or *invent your own excuse*, etc. So to work around that problem I copied the image’s URL (right click, select “copy image URL”), and checked to see if it works in an independent browser tab.

Sure it does. It is a publicly shared image, so it should work.

Then I tried the same thing on a personal image that I’ve shared only with friends on Facebook (not even friends of friends). Even that URL works. It works in an incognito tab on Chrome. It works on another browser where I’ve never signed in on Facebook. You can even see a private image from a person’s albums as long as you have the image URL. This shocks me. What happened to all the things that Facebook said about protecting our content?

Up until now I haven’t taken social media privacy too seriously. I’ve tended to follow the mantra: everything I do online is public. And Scott McNealy (CEO, Sun Microsystems) said in 1999You already have zero privacy. Get over it.

But that doesn’t stop me from calling out Facebook’s empty promises. Facebook insists that it is up to you to decide how much you share. Bullshit.

Update: A user has found that Facebook doesn’t kill the link even after you delete the photo.

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