Facebook Hosts Offline Privacy ‘Pop-Up’ In New York City

At the time of Wrapping up a year of the privacy scandals, congressional hearings and some of the host issues, Facebook has also hosted a one day “pop-up” event in the New York City Bryant Park on the last Thursday, hoping to talk to the users about their privacy settings, ad preferences and whatever else on the mind.

Amid the park’s holiday market, food stalls and a busy ice-skating rink, the company set up a trailer to lure in passers-by from the cold with hot chocolate. Some did, though journalists and Facebook employees in gray fleece sweaters far outnumbered members of the public as of midday.

Facebook Chief Privacy Officers, Erin Egan, has now acknowledged that only some of the Facebook more than 2 billion users are likely to stop by. But she says that the hope is that those who do will “teach others” about what they exactly learn. Facebook has held some of the similar events in Dublin, Dubai, Cologne, Germany and London all within just the past year.

For those who did stop by, it was a rare chance to speak to a real person from Facebook about concerns such as being shut out of an account for using an alias, receiving a notification about a login attempt, or seeing what information the social network uses to target them with ads.

Privacy wasn’t a big concern for Janet Fabian, who popped in with a friend. She said the pop-up was “great” because “certain things you really don’t know who to ask.” Fabian, who lives in New York and gave her age as “over 50,” said she’s been on Facebook for nine or 10 years and loves it because it is easy to use.

“I’ve got nothing interesting to give them,” she said, adding that she’s much more worried about her financial information being compromised in hacks such as the recent data breach at Marriott-owned hotels.

James Matias, from Long Island, New York, meanwhile, nursed a hot chocolate and said that, while his brother-in-law and wife are “Facebook people,” he doesn’t use it much. “I am not good at surfing it,” he said, adding that telling people what he had for breakfast seems useless and he prefers talking as a “communications device.” “However, Facebook is a wonderful tool for connecting with people you haven’t seen in 50 years,” he said.

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