Fred Stutzman recently commented on Facebook's use of data, saying that he happened to see
an accepted manuscript in the Journal of Public Economics entitled The Old Boy (and Girl) Network: Social Network Formation on University Campuses....*
The article used data from Facebook to examine racial segmentation in the social network. Stutzman continues,
All of this made me think back to a post I wrote a few months ago. In it, I documented Facebook saying "we certainly aren't selling your information to ANYONE. That's yours". When I went back to check on this page, I found it missing (though the Internet Archive has versions of the page containing the text). I wonder if this means a policy has changed, or simply if this page was swept up in a redesign. Perhaps I'm the only person who cares.
Stutzman should not be the only person who cares. Maybe there's nothing for us to worry about. But anyone using third party platforms to connect alumni should have a very good idea of what each site's privacy and usage policies allow. And if you have an official group on Facebook, LinkedIn or elsewhere, it is a good idea to link to those sites' privacy policies from your own web site. This provides cautious alumni with an opportunity to preview the external sites' policies before they register - and they won't be able to say they didn't know your site's policies were different from the commercial networks'.
* If you're a staff member on a college campus, you can use your library privileges to retrieve the article online.