2010-05-06

Aborted Experiment: Facebook

I've read  some opinions recently about how tools such as Facebook might be the "new paradigm" of post-email communication on the Internet that some of us have been waiting for.  Email is just like writing letters, but faster.  But Facebook is a new, fundamentally different way of communicating with people.  Even my mom is on facebook now!  And I'm supposed to be technically savvy?

So, I decided to start an experiment, since I'd only have one chance: I signed up to Facebook with the intent to see how long it took for someone, anyone (except Marla) took to find me and send a friend request, without me actively looking for anyone.

The closest answer I have is "a week or two."  Even though I was not an early adopter of Facebook, I'm an early adopter of the latest new trend: cancelling your Facebook account

Like many folks, I recently read Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook as well as a few related posts. I had heard of the spate of privacy violations and snafus that have happened lately regarding Facebook data, so when I read about why I should cancel, the only reason I needed was very straighforward once I thought about it: As a Facebook user, you are not Facebook's customer; you're Facebook's product.  The way they make money is by selling your personal information.

Now that I've cancelled, don't send me a friend request; I need to go 14 days without logging in so my account will be purged.

I still think tools like Facebook represent a new and useful means of communication.  I only want to wait for the time when an open tool is available that provides similar functionality.  I'm confident this will happen.  One side effect of opening up Facebook data to more and more consumers is that it makes it easier for customers to move away and take their data with them since it's already visible to the world.

Today, news arrived of the latest Facebook privacy problem: when you're logged into Facebook and visit some web sites, they install a Facebook app for you whether you like it or not, without asking, and without telling you they did it.  If anyone else tried this it would be called malware or a virus, why is Facebook allowed to get away with it?  The fact that these apps are installed is visible to all your friends, which also happens to tell everyone about some of the web sites you visit.  Maybe that's the point, since it spreads word about the sites that are paying Facebook to do this; but maybe you don't want the world to know what sites you visit?

You don't need to stop using Facebook.  Just know that when you use it, every piece of information you post to Facebook is owned by Facebook, and will probably be used to sell you to companies so they can sell things to you.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. I hate Facebook. I really want to delete my account, but I am afraid it will mean I no longer exist. I mean, if I delete my facebook account, how will I know about the public lives of people I haven't spoken to in 15 years and have no desire to ever speak to again?

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