Monday, May 17, 2010

Facebook Wins


Terms like "a lot" are only accurate when used in the correct context, unless you're a very small child, in which case, your perception and context is a bit skewed, not to mention a bit limited. Thus, if you're not a small child and have more than four or five years experience on this planet, you're going to have to use terms like "a lot" correctly so that it doesn't make you look and/or sound like a complete moron. Though in this case, I don't think that's all one will have to do in order to avoid the moron moniker.

There is apparently a movement underfoot (or under CPU) for folks to delete their Facebook account. According to the huffy folks over at
The Huffington Post, "A group of dissatisfied Facebook users have teamed up in an effort to organize a mass, coordinated exodus from Facebook". Whaaa...?? A mass coordinated exodus from Facebook? That sounds serious! And while the propelling rationale behind such a movement is serious, I'd hardly call what they have going on a "mass coordinated exodus".

The issue has become the privacy settings on Facebook. Now, I am one person who is fully behind the school of thought that if you don't want the world to see something, for God's sake, don't post it on the Internets (yes, all of them!). But I'm also someone who thinks that I should have control over my own stuff. I'm not a big fan of someone else telling me what is private and what is public. How about if I decide that? Uh, well, if you're asking Facebook, they're not going to let you.

Now, there's nothing making you use Facebook in the first place. I find it ridiculous, yet at the same time, rather entertaining. I am not a big fan of having anything about myself plastered all over anywhere. (It almost makes me cringe every time I see my own picture on this blog. I'm not comfortable with it.) That being said, I never really cared because I could always clamp down my privacy setting so that I could keep certain things (ie, everything) private except to those who were my "Friends". Granted, my life is so boring that there isn't anything on there that would cause scandal in my life, but I'm trying to make a point! Can we pretend that I have a social life just for the sake of a freakin' argument, for cryin' out loud?!

It's when Facebook decided that they would decide what its users had control over is when people started getting up in arms. According to Huffington Post again, Facebook's privacy police "...is now longer than the Constitution and offers some 50 settings and over 170 options." OK, do I care that it's longer than the Constitution? Not really. A lot of things are longer than the Constitution. Most owner's manuals are longer than the Constitution. That isn't reason alone for me to stop buying products. (Man, if you're going to come up with an inflammatory argument, try to make it better than "it's longer than the Constitution". That's pretty weak. The Constitution might not be very long, but I will say that with all of that swirly, old-timey writing, it is a bit difficult to read as it was written. At least the Facebook policy has a more eyeball friendly font.)

But if you're using the Constitution as a guide for what is an acceptable length for any sort of document and/or policy, and you are now considering deleting your Facebook account, then you're going to want to know about Quit Facebook Day. And it is just what it sounds like. The website cited is a proponent of that "mass exodus" I mentioned above. As of this writing, they have 1,745 folks who claim to be committed to deleting their Facebook account on May 31st. That's about twice as many as the 780 that had made the commitment when the Huffington Post article went up. If that sort of commitment continues, then it might turn into something that might be more interesting to watch than paint drying.

Facebook has over 400,000,000 user accounts. From what I can tell, only about a quarter of those are daily users. Don't get me wrong. That's a heckuva lot of people, that one hundred million. But it's a far cry from the user base that Facebook claims to have. And I'm sure that there's a point where it doesn't matter how many users there are for any practical arguments. But since I don't know where that point is, I'm still going with whatever it is that I've been spelling out up until this point.

Facebook is free because it is an information mining organization. It takes every single thing that you post on there and logs it in a very large book (I'm guessing here) and then sells that information to companies who can't figure out how to mine their own data (mainly because they don't know their ass from a hole in the ground). If you have even 100,000,000 active user's information to sell, having 1,725 people quit isn't going to even register a blip on the Facebook radar. They don't care. They're not going to care. Why would they? They're making a gazillion dollars off of the apparent fact that some folks cannot resist the temptation to post half-naked, drunken, frat party pictures of themselves every weekend.

Does it suck? I don't know. Maybe. I guess I wished that privacy controls weren't necessary. But in a world where online identity theft is rampant, they kind of are. Do I wish that I could post half-naked, drunken, frat party pictures of myself every weekend and not have to worry about ramifications? Sure, but only because I'd really like to be half-naked and drunk at a frat party (it's been a while). I think I wish more that people were smarter and more responsible than that, but I have better things to think about and wish for than the impossible, let alone, the improbable.

And while the only thing that is going to make Facebook reconsider whether or not it should be in charge of determining what is private and what is public is to have another option available, that's not going to fix things for a lot of people. The problem here is that the definition and probably more importantly the expectation of privacy is being changed. No one is going to use another option if they don't think that not having privacy is a problem. Granted, no one has to use any of these things at all. But if the definition and the expectations of privacy are changed to the point where real privacy no longer exists, then it becomes more than just about freaking Facebook. Then it becomes about all of the Internets (all of which I love dearly). And then it becomes one of those cases where it doesn't need to be about change right at the moment. It needs to be more about awareness.

Stumble Upon Toolbar Sphere: Related Content

No comments: