Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Facebook, Privacy and You

My boss linked to an article on Facebook today that discusses how keen advertisers are to find out information about you that you've posted to Facebook. It seems like a month doesn't go by without some uproar somewhere about Facebook and privacy, and I know there are quite a few people up in arms about it. I've been a Facebook user for quite some time now, but I've never been all that worried about privacy. Let me tell you why.
  1. Apparently unlike many Facebook users, I actually take the time to get to know the privacy features of Facebook and set them up the way I want them to be set up. I go back periodically and check to make sure everything's still satisfactory. Facebook is there for my friends to be able to find out what I'm doing and contact me if they need or want to. It mirrors my blog. On the whole, I'm a fairly open person. This leads me to my next point.
  2. Anything and everything I post to Facebook I assume could go public at some point. There's nothing on there that leaves me in a cold sweat thinking about Joe Public stumbling across it at some point. Here's the thing, folks: once you upload or post something to the internet, it's out of your control. Someone could copy it and post it somewhere else. Who knows where it goes? If you don't want something getting out, don't post it. Those pictures of you doing the limbo while dressed like Catwoman? Don't post them if you don't want your mother seeing them. (Better yet, don't take them to begin with, but that's another story.)
  3. Advertisers want my data? Great. I personally don't care all that much if they find out what music I like or what my favorite TV show is. Maybe they'll stop sending me ads for junk I don't want. If someone wants to make a buck off of telling an advertiser that I like martial arts movies, fine. They could find that out easily enough from my public personal blog. I know other people might care more about this, but to that, I say see #2.
Facebook is always changing their privacy features. People seem outraged that the company might try to use their site to (gasp!) make money. Folks, "free" doesn't exist online. You get what you pay for. If you want ironclad privacy, maybe using a for-free site isn't the way you want to go. Find a site that charges you a monthly fee and in return promises complete privacy. I don't think that site will catch on too much, because people in the end go with their wallets first, privacy second. Just don't feign outrage when someone calls you on your bluff.

And remember, please Facebook responsibly.

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