There’s been a lot of news lately about Facebook and how it disrespects its users privacy rights. While I have not taken the time to examine every line of Facebook’s privacy policies, I side with the folks who believe that information, photos, likes and dislikes, etc etc, that I submit to Facebook should belong to no one else but me and it should be I who decides who gets the privilege of seeing this information. But what makes Facebook different than any other site on the web, the internet is a public space and where people scream privacy invasion they forget that users themselves have to be responsible for their own actions.
After much thought, I’ve decided to play the safe card and minimize what I post to Facebook to just status updates (think twitter). I have removed everything from my Facebook page except for a profile pic and a link to my website. Gone are all my likes and dislikes, movie preferences…almost everything. My profile now only shows my blog URL and that I’m married to Nicola (and you’d even have to be my friend to see that). Instead of posting pictures to Facebook, I’ll post them here instead. Now I don’t have to worry about Facebook abusing content I post to the site.
Examining my actions
Some might be asking themselves, ‘Whats so bad about Facebook?’ Recently there were changes in the Rights and Responsibilities statement, specifically section 2.1 that states that Facebook shall own and have basically free use of any IP content (photos and videos). So the second you click upload to photos, boom, Facebook has “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content”. See? You think your photos are yours until one day you realize Facebook has used your profile pic to advertise itself or worse use your pic as a “stock photo” for who knows… Viagra ads. The way I see it, if I legitimately took a photo and wanted to share it with my friends, that should be the end of it, but with section 2.1 like it is, no way José.
Ok so what about like’s and interests. Why did I erase those? Who cares? Well FB just recently made it so if you like something, you’re automatically associated with a page that is specific to that like. Let’s say I started a facebook account when I was in college and happened to like ‘Getting Drunk’ and I was stupid enough to post that as my interest. Now ten years later, I’m out in the work force, I’ve turned my life around and now work for a non-profit organization combatting alcoholism. My boss could, by chance, stumble upon this in the new ‘Getting Drunk’ page and find me in there. This would be at least embarrassing and at most, could cost me my job. These new ‘Like’ pages group me in with others that share these likes and where I thought it these keywords were just for friends that I approve to see is actually a keyword that grouped me in with everyone else.
The truth is that there is no real safe place on the internet.
Your facebook page is going to be spewing ads at you to buy all the things you’ve listed as your likes, interests, activities, etc. While on the surface seems helpful (‘At least I’m not getting stupid ads’), beneath the surface, consider facebook not as a place to share stuff with friends but instead a movie theatre where you’re the only one sitting in the audience and the movie you’re about to see isn’t what you came for but instead was advertising for all of the things you like. To some this might seem trivial, but to me, thats a little bit of an exploit of my information. Truthfully this issues is the lesser evil but again, I came here to talk to my friends, not read ads. I get it Facebook, you make money off of ads and that pays for the site. But should I trust you when you say you won’t share my love of Pinot Noir with every wine maker in the world just so they can spam me? Nope.
How am I any better off elsewhere?
This is a good question that I’ve been asking myself. In the Facebook environment, I had the option of hiding my profile to non-friends. But this blog you’re reading is readily available to anyone on the internet. You don’t have to sign up, you don’t have to have me approve you. You just gotta know my URL and/or know how to find me on Google. Sadly this is true, and this is where FB is nice. The truth is that there is no real safe place on the internet. You are responsible for the things you put on the net. Don’t go posting things on the net unless you’re ok with it being public domain. But in doing so, you’ve got to limit your chances of being exploited. I’m ok with having stuff on the net and because decide and filter out what photos to post and what information to share. I just can’t trust corporations like Facebook especially when it’s their business to make money off of me.
So that’s it, my Facebook page has been minimized and I’ll be posting more content on this blog. In practice, it will probably be just photos and the occasional rant but you can rest assured that you won’t see any ads.