Just a couple Facebook Privacy thoughts I’m willing to share…

I’ve come across a lot of stuff about Facebook Privacy lately– for example, there’s this piece from Read Write Web, “More Web Industry Leaders Quit Facebook, Call for Open Alternative,” which has a ton of links both in the article and in the comments on the “quitting Facebook” trend, and then there’s the often reposted “Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook.” In no particular order, I had a couple of thoughts:

  • There’s something interesting? odd? ironic? well, maybe just something– about how people seem to be rediscovering the privacy issues here a couple of years after the conventional wisdom for sites like Facebook and MySpace is that “kids” were being pretty stupid by putting up stuff that will come back to haunt them later. I realize that part of this new wave is a result of Facebook’s increasingly squishy privacy issues, but some of it also has to be because the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is “grown-ups” who supposedly know better.  And who don’t.
  • The concept/definition of “privacy” is not exactly stable, and this is by far from the first time that it’s been a contentious and potentially interesting issue. Remember Jennicam? Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia page I am linking to here says that Jennifer Ringley, who once pretty much broadcast “everything” out to the web, says she is now “enjoying her privacy.”  And maybe that’s part of what the deal is here too:  a lot of people kind of went a little over-board on the whole Facebook thing and now want to scale back a bit.
  • A lot of the complaints about Facebook seem to forget that it is not a “public space” or a completely free “community asset.”  Sure, they might be kind of asshole-ish as of late with various policies (not to mention just kind of tone-deaf to public critique), but they are a business that is trying to make money.  Part of the way they do that is by using your content; if you don’t like that, then don’t put up your content.
  • On the one hand, I don’t really care that much.  I mean, I’ve already got over 1600 pictures on Flickr all pretty much share-and-share-alike and there’s this and previous blogs; it’s not as if I’m leading that super-private of a life as it is.  And given that folks are okay with Amazon and Netflix making “choices” for you based on stuff you’ve browsed before, I don’t see exactly what is so wrong with Facebook targeting ads at you and treating your pages as if they are not completely private.  On the other hand, all of this dust-up is a reminder that Facebook is a public space, that those updates and pictures and stuff you post really can/will be seen by lots of people.
  • 16 or 15 years ago, I remember going to a talk at BGSU where someone was talking about this newfangled “email” system that was going on campus, and the presenter warned people then of their privacy:  don’t email anything you wouldn’t want to see showing up on a billboard or in the New York Times. That’s probably a little extreme for email nowadays, but words to live by on the book o’ face.
This entry was posted in Reading, Social Networks, Teaching, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.