I have been observing the growth of Facebook in the social space for years now, and after growing more and more frustrated at the ‘facebook effect’ taking place online I’ve decided to start posting about it. My fear is that facebook will become the defacto internet login ID which will cause your entire online self and your privacy to be tracked and sold to the highest bidder.
Quick explanation of my beef: tracking is OK, in fact, it’s natural for computer systems to store (log) the various paths that clients (browsers, mobiles, etc.) peruse. I also know of the business model where you provide a free service/entertainment and it’s supported by advertising, and sometimes that advertising is targeted directly to the users based on their data, but these are opt-in users.
There’s where the switch, the trick, the slight of hand happens to help make Facebook billions unethically. They provide a free service, it is opt-in, and damn right they are collecting and processing every last bit of your information posted through your facebook login. And trust me that’s alot. It’s a treasure chest for marketers, private investigators, law enforcement, hiring services, resume scanners, market analysts, bosses, peer review boards, license review boards, business competition, even foreign governments studying consumer habits, and facebook divies up that treasure (your privacy) and sells it repeatedly to whoever will pay.
This is my problem: They make a killing killing the internet as we know it. Our private information – family, friends, mood, health, hobbies, opinions – is facebook’s gold. Every time you touch your facebook from anywhere you are giving them gold in exchange for your sanity. Anytime you post somewhere tied to your facebook login you are helping to pollute that site with this disease of self-flagellation for other’s profit.
Listen, social is fine. I’ve been social on the web since before most of you could even type. I have extensive personal information posted on the internet as far back as 1994. But I was never tricked into posting it, it’s in bits and pieces spread around, I was never forced to attach my name and real ID, and that personal data I typed was never sold to the highest bidder. If you slide my timeline back to 1994 you won’t see anything because I don’t let facebook into my life. To track me you need to know me, know my stuff, know my aliases, know my style and personality, and form your own opinion.
People back in the day used to worry about being “just a number”. I’m afraid it’s coming true and many of you will be nothing more than a facebook ID any day now.?UNLESS Facebook jumps the shark soon. I think I see the signs coming:
- the clumsy IPO, showing an overvalued company with a muddled business plan, and a trend that may be peaking
- the purchase of the Instagram photo app, which will soon morph into full face and location recognition tied into the facebook database. Snap a pic with this and the whole world will know who/where/when immediately. Hello big brother!
- the rumored facebook browser will start their ‘new AOL’ phase, where all interaction with the web goes through your facebook account. Ad blockers will be blocked and you’ll have to basically submit to zero privacy to use it. People will, but the line will be drawn and their slight of hand will be exposed.
- the rumored facebook smart phone running their own fork of android, or at minimum a much more ambitious push into the mobile OS space, will bring facebook into more people’s pockets and out into the real world. Facebook phones will start to get banned from sensitive areas and the idea of a device reporting everything you do back to a single advertising company will hopefully start to sink in with more people.
Of course, I see hundreds of people a day logged into their facebook and using it for just about everything so this could all be wishful thinking on my part. Then again, I’ve started to notice that when I bring up facebook at meetings as a way to promote something, people scoff and claim they hate facebook. Not sure I believe them but it’s a start ;-).
Are baby pictures and the desire to feel ‘liked’ by a website so important as to give away the whole thing that is the internet? Time will tell.