Everybody hates Facebook

Facebook is far and away the most successful social website on the Internet. It sprang from humble origins: Some smart Harvard kids had the idea of digitizing their college “facebook,’’ the slender student photo catalog primarily used for scoping out attractive members of the opposite s*x. MySpace had already commercialized the idea of Internet “friendship,’’ but Facebook proved to be better, faster, cooler, and so on.

Facebook now has hundreds of millions of users, including me, who don’t really do much of anything. We post pictures of families or vacations; we link to interesting articles or dopey videos. (The recent, not-safe-for-work-or-for-the-family-newspaper homage to Internet-hating author Ray Bradbury is an instant classic.) We make inane comments like, “Thinking.’’ Writers hilariously detail their various blocks and obsessions for the world to see.

In return for hosting our trifles on the Web, Facebook shows us a few ads on the right-hand side of the screen, which are easy to ignore. Because I am a member of several online Republican “communities,’’ Mitt Romney keeps trying to sign me up for something. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir? I have no idea. I don’t pay much attention.

It is all pretty innocent. Or is it? There is an active industry in Facebook-hating, generally equating the California-based company with Big Brother, various spy agencies, and worse. “Facebook is the gutter,’’ is a typical posting from Leif Harmsen, a Toronto-based artist who merchandises “Shut Your Facebook’’ T-shirts from his website.

Apropos, one of the most active Internet sites for Facebook-hating is Facebook itself. FB’s own “I Hate Facebook’’ page has 6,300 supporters. There is a nascent Community Page, “Hating Facebook,’’ with 670 fans. At least someone has a sense of humor, and it’s not Facebook’s many critics, that’s for sure.

Every few months or so, Facebook institutes a procedural change that drives everyone nuts. One sentence in an early privacy policy, for instance, read: “We may share your information with third parties, including responsible companies with which we have a relationship.’’ Cue predictable outcry, cue FB backing away from unpopular policy. Likewise, one’s “profile,’’ which contains personal information, used to show up in Internet searches. Supposedly, it no longer does.

Late last year, Facebook ignited yet another privacy firestorm, incurring the wrath of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Canadian government, and others. This one involved whether or not the world could find out who your “friends’’ are. (Facebook friends differ from actual friends, but the distinction is a subtle one.) A couple of weeks ago, Facebook launched a “Places’’ function, which tells the world that you are eating at a specific restaurant or ogling art at a specific museum, and may identify FB friends there with you. Facebook dodged the usual tsunami of online hate by consulting privacy experts before launching Places, and by making it optional.

But really — privacy? If you attend parties where idiots brandish their cellphones to photograph whatever it is people do at parties, you’ve diminished your expectation of privacy by about 500 percent. You’re so protective of the fascinating details of your financial life, yet you hand your credit card over to the high school dropout at the gas station. But you don’t trust Exeter- and Harvard-educated Mark Zuckerberg, the current CEO of Facebook?

People are very vain about their personal information. But as a recent Wall Street Journal series, “Your Privacy Online,’’ revealed, yes, Google and Microsoft are leeching lots of information about you from their software, but they have little interest in who you are. They care what you are: an SUV owner; a Sheraton rewards club member; a Red Sox fan. They sell advertising to marketing categories, not to clumps of Social Security numbers.

There is always talk of an alternative to Facebook. Google, which rules the world, might be able to create an instant “community’’ of hundreds of millions of users from its successful Gmail accounts. Earlier this year, the Facebook-killing flavor of the month was a start-up called Diaspora, which would be an open-source Facebook without the corporate controls emanating from FB HQ. They were supposed to have a product around now. They didn’t answer my e-mailed inquiry about their plans.

12 komentar:

  1. I recall the user community's outcry when Facebook introduced the mini-feed feature. I've heard some tales about identity theft, public Facebook photos that an be used as evidence in the court of law, amongst other things

  2. I don't hate FB but i don't love it neither, FB has its advantages and its desadvantages, it allows us to connect with our old friends and families but everybody can spy us...

  3. Good post. There's a simple way to avoid Facebook "security breaches" - stay off of it!

  4. Good post. Yeah facebook can sometimes be a burden. Anyways hey I'm trying to hit 100 subscribers on my blog so subscribe and follow my blog in the link above!!! Thanks =)

  5. very interesting and knowledgeable information, thanks for sharing it…..:)

  6. great....i think i agree with you

  7. cool blog. it's very useful for me. thanks.

  8. Very good blog.I agree with you that "Facebook is far and away the most successful social website on the Internet".I like this information very much.Thanks a lot for sharing.

  9. Being a Muslim I hate face-book & I think every one know why we hate it.