Facing the Future of Facebook

| 5/21/2010 10:50:20 AM

Tags: Science and Technology, Facebook, internet, information, privacy,

The internet used to be called the information superhighway. These days, however, the lumbering and snorting of Facebook represent exactly the kinds of traffic control that characterize our internet age. The future of personal data is trending more public than private, worries Laura McGann at The American Prospect. As she recounts why she decided to abandon Facebook, McGann suggests that information isn’t shared so much as automatically dispersed:

Then I stumbled upon a list of the various third-party groups that have access to my account. In all, there were 32, including the makers of "Which Jane Austen heroine are you?" (I'm Fanny Price), The Awl, a snarky, high-brow commentary site, and Business Insider. The latter two I didn't recall approving. The media sites, I discovered, were installed automatically when I browsed their websites while logged in to Facebook. Jane Austen, I'm afraid, I must take responsibility for. Reports are unclear as to what information applications can pull from your account. Some warn that developers have broad access and do not distinguish between what you mark as public and private, and some quizzes even get access to friends' information.

Considering Facebook's track record of shifting privacy settings, which the Electronic Frontier Foundation wraps up here, and you can get a visual sense of here, it seems pretty much guaranteed that user control over personal information will only get weaker.

Source: The American Prospect 

6/9/2010 6:31:11 PM

I use Facebook for sharing photographs and to keep in touch with younger members of the family. It's quite useful for that...but I believe that there are other sites out there that offer greater privacy. That said, I've reconnected with people I met 30 years ago through Facebook because it seems everyone goes on to Facebook first as it has the highest profile. The addiction usually only lasts a couple of weeks for anyone over 30!

5/27/2010 9:22:51 AM

Sites like Facebook and myspace are not just 'networking' sites, they've created this sort of mass hysteria. What I mean is people have a hunger to be famous , to be immortalized whether or not they're artists or not. Compare this age to the ancient sumerian myth Gilgamesh. A man who basically sold his soul for power and fame. We've seen it in this generation of 'reality TV' and Youtube. Having 'a page' and 'friends' who view your page makes a person feel important. Cuppa mugwort tea? :)

5/26/2010 12:10:31 PM

I am a member of FaceBook. I signed up for several trivial reasons one of which was curiousity. I pop on every now and again because of that curiousity. However, something always "feels" wrong. I rarely post and when I do it is something general like a school reunion comment etc. I see folks there posting about every bit of minusha about their day, including how well they are doing at some game on FaceBook. It's sort of pathetic and I think a reflection of where our society has gone. If people are willing to "share" their toilet habits what would prohibit something less intrusive like their Social Security number. I'm curious about the mindset of our culture. My job has required I fly every Monday and Friday and I have watched the dynamic of airports change. Their is an obvious withdrawal of people into their little eletronic worlds and a disconnect with humanity on a flesh to flesh level. Conversely (and ironically), there is almost a panic to be in constant contact with someone electronically. Almost like an umbillical cord. Has anyone explored this as a possible marketing tool for FaceBook?

5/24/2010 10:38:40 PM

Oh shut up!

kit kellison
5/24/2010 1:21:48 PM

There are many people who have reasons not to share their private information. Sexual orientation and medical history high among them. It isn't for others to decide whether our browsing history should be shared. Perhaps the odds are that any one of us won't feel any discomfort resulting from this state of affairs, but that doesn't make us safe, or reduce the pain of the repercussions should one fall victim. And if, at present, you aren't one of them, doesn't mean you don't have a moral obligation to stand up for those who do. Given the current political climate and the universal fear of terrorism, anyone can foresee a possible turn of events in which curiosity or research about some illegal activity can turn a person into a political or personal target. That we have to take measures to protect our privacy means that the status quo is settling the wrong way. I think it's time we had a right to privacy amended to the constitution. And to hell with those who'll suffer economically from not having access to our private lives.

5/24/2010 12:13:38 PM

Remove the applications in the privacy settings which helps. Then there are the search/locator sites which you have to opt out of. In the overall picture, there is no getting around lack of privacy on the internet. It is common sense never to put information out there that can be used for identity theft. Other than that, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.