Facebook: You Are Not Its Customer, You Are Its Product

February 5, 2012

Now it’s not just about whether my dinner will be interrupted by a telemarketer. It’s about whether my dreams will be dashed by the collection of bits and bytes over which I have no control and for which companies are currently unaccountable. – Lori Andrews

Orwell’s Big Brother is here and instead of coercing you to reveal everything about yourself you do it willingly, eagerly. So you can share pictures and music and private thoughts and brand choices. And play FarmVille and Words with Friends. Good for Zynga and Mark Zuckerberg. But good for you? Didn’t we have ways to do all those things before Facebook, even before the Internet?

I am not on Facebook though I make my living with my software skills and use my Mac every day.

I know people who are afraid of online predators and concerned about online bullying that allow their adolescent children to have Facebook accounts (all their friends are on Facebook, they say). I know people who rail against big government and telemarketers who complain of Facebook “withdrawal” when they can’t access their accounts multiple times during the day.

One of the heaviest Facebook users I know explains that it’s easier to deal with her friends and family via Facebook, instead of say, actually visiting or interacting with them. (I’m sure that’s true). I have had people tell me that I don’t really “exist” because I don’t have a Facebook account “like everyone else.”  These are folks who have never read Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay.

For some reasons to be concerned about Facebook (and social networks in general) I highly recommend this article in the New York TimesFacebook Is Using You  by Lori Andrews, author of  I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy.



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