Facebook. Everyones love it. Some people hate it. Most people love to hate it. I am in the last boat on this one. Facebook is a marvelous invention for social networking but I’m definitely not loving the privacy invasion going on. I know most people are saying, “If you don’t like the non-existing, all encompassing lack of privacy, then get off Facebook”, but it’s not that easy. Facebook is:
- a valuable marketing tool
- a valuable way to understand your target demographic
- an awesome way to keep up with people who are changing their relationship status daily in hopes of someone noticing and caring your family that you live far away from.
- planning events and raising money
Now, I know all of these things can be done off of Facebook. Supermarkets use those keytag cards, so you get some discounts or gain points, in order to watch your shopping habits and understand what is moving through their store. You can send snail mail letters (which I actually do love getting, by the way. Nothing beats a handwritten letter), you can do the good old fashion bulletin board plastering for events… there are ways to get around Facebook. I use my personal email WAY more than I could ever use Facebook. It’s open all day long and I care way more about anything that happens in there throughout the day.
You may have heard that students from NYU were raising money to start a privatized social network much like Facebook. Ilya Zhitomirskiy, Dan Grippi, Max Salzberg and Raphael Sofaer are doing just that. They started raising money slowly, and before they knew it, it was flooding into their hands left and right. I won’t get into the details of what they’re doing because it’s rather long, but the New York Times has a rather nice wrap up on it.
But in the short attention span of today’s world where we can’t even remember birthdays or events unless we have Facebook in front of us, how much information are we unknowingly giving out to there for people to sell and use? How about social media possibly affecting our credit? The IRS using social networking to find people that are evading taxes?
Why are the new Facebook privacy options OPT-OUT rather than OPT-IN. This sends a very subtle message saying, “Hi! You’re using my platform and I am going to automatically opt you in to every possible invasion of privacy in hopes that you won’t see it and opt-out!”
Don’t get me wrong, the open graph concept is AMAZING and I can’t wait to see what else is done with it, but I think the aggressive and sometimes shady pushes of it are what I don’t appreciate. What Facebook is doing is revolutionary- it’s literally changing the world around us. They are a monster; a good monster that’s pushing us towards innovation. But when is there going to be a line? Has it already been crossed? What exactly should be kept private?
You do know that every application you sign up for can access your information, and the developers can see all of that, right? You do know that your information is not just locked up on the Facebook platform and only accessed by those developers… right?
Also, remember: What goes up must come down.
We shouldn’t be putting all our eggs in one basket because I suspect that in the next couple of years, something will happen and Facebook will be taken down, abandoned, or try to go too far and completely mess up its business model and destroy all hope of living.
Now, there are some people that don’t give a sh*t about their privacy. I think this is because:
- They cannot wrap their heads around the security implications
- They like that Facebook is becoming somewhat of a bad realty TV show for you to read
- They don’t understand that the changes aren’t “really” for our benefit- Facebook and other businesses are the true benefactors
- They just really honestly believe that our information is not being used for anything malicious
I’ve read articles that warn mothers not to put their children’s full name in pictures, for the sake of keeping them private from pedophiles and other sickos. I’ve read things that have said not to put your full birthday (month, day and year) on your Facebook profile because it can be accessed for credit card fraud. It AMAZES me that people can be so hyper focused and paranoid, but not see the big picture.
OPEN YOUR EYES. Embrace this change but ALSO know where your data is going and make SURE you protect what you don’t want out there. Don’t be naive.
Next thing you know, we’ll be calling each other by our social security numbers in public.
*I realize that this comes off as a huge rant that I am against Facebook and social networking, but it’s not true. I am completely immersed in it (I am in the internet marketing field after all) but it doesn’t mean I have to be completely supportive. I am merely expressing my concerns. If you don’t like it, then go stand in the middle of a busy highway. Thanks.