Is Facebook the future?

I’ve been sitting on this topic for a while, waiting till I can write it perfectly. But that means it’s not getting written. So here goes.

I’m this close to quitting Facebook. Envision my thumb and forefinger very close together.

The biggest reason is the privacy encroachments being made incrementally by Facebook.* The malicious ones perpetrated by hackers are bad enough, but they almost don’t matter in the face of Facebook’s own progress toward making everything terribly connected so that better and more ads can be served to all users. Every change Facebook has made to the software or their policies seems to be more for their own benefit than for the users. I guess there are people who are happy to have their interest lists promoted to become connections to pages for easier, um, connections to other users and from advertisers. (“Connections” is apparently a big Facebook thing now.) I’ve been trying to avoid that for two weeks now, and apparently it’s impossible to do so.

Any attempt to modify or even understand account settings takes one into a labyrinthine world where one’s brain becomes a muddle of jargon, which leads easily to a decision to just throw up one’s hands and walk away. Maybe that’s unavoidable with the way the website has grown and expanded, but a company with an interest in the users’ needs would probably put a little more effort into making this work better. Or … they simply want every data item available at all times for the maximum benefit of their advertising partners. I’m just plain advertised at too much, already.

And yet … this next thought plagues me. What if this is the way it will all turn out anyway? If Facebook doesn’t do this, or even if/as it does, why wouldn’t any other social media outfit do it? Forget Facebook, or Twitter, or even MySpace. Don’t we all have some sort of profile on Yahoo, Google, or AOL even? Why wouldn’t those companies seek to exploit their users’ data thoroughly? Why couldn’t “regular” websites, the ones that aren’t classified as social media, implement some or all of what Facebook is trying to, and more? Why wouldn’t they if it works financially? So, is there a point to dropping out of one website if all websites move toward that same model? Am I just cutting off my nose to spite my face?

I guess I wonder, maybe the future is what Facebook is trying to pioneer. Everyone connected online, with little thought to what information is used, along with a continued onslaught of marketing messages. You either like it, or you lump it—all. On or off, no dimmer switch.

So, I’m this close to quitting Facebook, but the button has not been pushed yet. Anyone out there have an opinion?
____
* Many of which are documented at 10 Reasons To Delete Your Facebook Account or Facebook’s Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline

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About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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2 Responses to Is Facebook the future?

  1. changeling72 says:

    I’m only on two websites now – LJ and Facebook. I tend to keep personal details to a minimum – ie DOB and the like. I consider myself an open person, but everything I write in my journal I am happy to be in the public domain. I’m very careful of shredding post which bears my name and address. I don’t think anything’s 100% secure, but there’s no point in making it easy.

    • songdogmi says:

      I don’t think anything’s 100% secure, but there’s no point in making it easy.

      That’s a good point.

      I’m thinking about reducing the personal details I have on Facebook to the bare minimum. Thing is, the details I’d remove are the fun stuff. I never thought that my appreciation for Shostakovich, R.E.M., and Richard Shindell might be used against me!

      (If they would alert me to when a Shostakovich concert was coming up, that would be one thing. But somehow an advertiser will probably decide that I need to learn of a Styx/REO Speedwagon/Foreigner concert. Hey, “classic,” right?)

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