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Who’s Afraid of Facebook?

Who's Afraid of Facebook?

If you weren’t already, this might change your mind.

And though that well-researched little flash project certainly made me consider considering deleting my profile, a recent Guardian piece furthered the idea…

Writer Tom Hodgkinson quickly states his angry thesis:

I despise Facebook. This enormously successful American business describes itself as “a social utility that connects you with the people around you”. But hang on. Why on God’s earth would I need a computer to connect with the people around me? Why should my relationships be mediated through the imagination of a bunch of supergeeks in California? What was wrong with the pub?

And does Facebook really connect people? Doesn’t it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually isolates us at our workstations.

This I’ve all heard before, and considered. For me, Facebook has never made me feel any disconnect, rather the opposite when I live a bizarre lifestyle of splitting my time between three cities. I’ve never felt any change in my social life, if anything it makes it easier to know whats going on outside of the computer. Its also a business card, a game (both Scrabulous and simple name searching itself), a friend finder, a family tree exposer (I made contact with long lost cousins I’d never have had the chance to otherwise) and a method of communication that – in a way – is just a flashy, extensive version of a cell phone or messenger. And yes – it promotes a bizarre type of vanity and allows people to create a self-image that is possibly erroneous and over-flattering and who knows what this kind of process will do to the youth for who Facebook is a giant part of their social lives. But people that use it in this way already have the self-image negative plethora that is the media to deal with, so I wonder if this really changes that. Our body is already a facebook profile and always has been. A canvas for clothes, makeup.. And language that can lie and construct “cool” images just the same as a profile. And if someone is gonna drink alone on a Saturday night with facebook, I doubt NOT having facebook will really change much. He’d be at home drinking with a phone call or a video game.

This is what I’ve been saying for months in my facebook defense. This article changed my view a tad. Take a look:

Facebook’s privacy policy

Just for fun, try substituting the words ‘Big Brother’ whenever you read the word ‘Facebook’

1 We will advertise at you

“When you use Facebook, you may set up your personal profile, form relationships, send messages, perform searches and queries, form groups, set up events, add applications, and transmit information through various channels. We collect this information so that we can provide you the service and offer personalised features.”

2 You can’t delete anything

“When you update information, we usually keep a backup copy of the prior version for a reasonable period of time to enable reversion to the prior version of that information.”

3 Anyone can glance at your intimate confessions

“… we cannot and do not guarantee that user content you post on the site will not be viewed by unauthorised persons. We are not responsible for circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures contained on the site. You understand and acknowledge that, even after removal, copies of user content may remain viewable in cached and archived pages or if other users have copied or stored your user content.”

4 Our marketing profile of you will be unbeatable

“Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (eg, photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalised experience.”

5 Opting out doesn’t mean opting out

“Facebook reserves the right to send you notices about your account even if you opt out of all voluntary email notifications.”

6 The CIA may look at the stuff when they feel like it

“By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States … We may be required to disclose user information pursuant to lawful requests, such as subpoenas or court orders, or in compliance with applicable laws. We do not reveal information until we have a good faith belief that an information request by law enforcement or private litigants meets applicable legal standards. Additionally, we may share account or other information when we believe it is necessary to comply with law, to protect our interests or property, to prevent fraud or other illegal activity perpetrated through the Facebook service or using the Facebook name, or to prevent imminent bodily harm. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, agents or government agencies.”

What do we do? Getting rid of as much information as possible is probably a way to reduce the damage. Take off favourite movies, your age, applications exposing various realms of yourself.. Go in and make sure your privacy settings are set where they should be (I just did).

But personally, I don’t know how much more I can spare. Even all of reading all that, getting rid of the whole deal feels a tad like quitting smoking… Im already a bare-bones profile kinda guy… Is Facebook Addicts Anonymous around yet?

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