Proper Facebook Etiquette

#861 evil Facebook

Friday 14th May, 2010

Dear Mariann,
I have been reading the buzz about Facebook and privacy. Should I deactivate – although this seem very difficult. Is Facebook evil in that it has loads of info on us and we can’t get out of it or say how it might use it? Should we really have to constantly monitor privacy settings and just how complicated is this. Thats my rant!
(From Ranty in reply to post #260 Hung-man syndrome)

Ranty, I’m replying to your query with rather rumbumptious Latin musico in the background. Imagine my swiveling hips as I type – which might (or might not) add something to my streams of thought.

You have every right to be concerned by Facebook’s coveting of your information. But Facebook isn’t the ‘nasty face’ that it has been given. ALL information that you post and share with friends is after all on THEIR site. It is, thus, by rights THEIR property. And, yes this means that they can do what they like with it.

…share a status update regarding your romantic status. ‘I thought that this was the best way to signal that I was single to him’. So was the reply of a good friend over a a sharp Chablis.  Although I have not met the ‘him’ in question, I am sure that there are better (more conventional(?)) ways to declare a single status. Is this not part of the ‘buzz’ of getting to know someone?  Equally true though if someone is your friend on Facebook, then they (like Facebook) have access to your everything. EVERYTHING.

Until now, sitting in front of a screen told only part of the story, there was a gap of intervening years, holidays, loves, friends, work etc. that could go unnoticed as gaps in time, but also as gaps in the Who you are. When you will out ‘information’ on Facebook you seek to fill those gaps in order to indicate to friends that you are who you say you are. Equally Facebook is keen for you to fill in those gaps as the same information lends much to the advertisements that show up on the right side of the screen.

Perhaps a decline in innocence then? Modelled on what we say; what’s our Buzz if you will.  Every rather griege surface is splattered with stuff. Your stuff. Which is why it is so popular. It’s populated by you, with people who are ‘like you’ (well they are your friends after all). Those new to the site SHOULD check the privacy settings, lest their profile lead them into the arms of less funky, more flunky – this makes me think of the decline of the quality assessment of one another. Of how Facebook has got bigger and bigger, moved out of the ‘online’ to become a networking demi-god of other people’s friends, and left us to re seek our notice of friend/ships then, now and in the future.

And it reminds me too, of how others have fallen by the wayside, such as my diaffection of MySpace quickly waned all those years ago (and no I still cannot delete my account there either). Still, back on Facebook keep yourself in check by remembering that you are part of some greater global network, and the expose’ that come to be revealed will deal with ‘them’, rather than ‘you’. As secure as if you were watching a horror film behind the sofa. Until you realise its not a film and the zombie’s there with you in the same room.

One of the problems with putting stuff on Facebook is that it doesn’t necessarily feel as though you are giving up too much of yourself. The site is cleverly (and quite deliberately) crafted in this way. To take up space on the site is akin to the occupancy of a hotel room.  You take up space that is part of a bigger building, and give it that unique air and personal flavour; just because others seek to put up posters of Russell Crow, it doesn’t mean that you  have to.  This takes me back to my single and in lust friend with her Chablis who, if her status updates are anything to go by, basically lives a hectic and appealing lifestyle of long lunches, partying, flying, taxi, taxi, taxi, out, out, out, and bikini images to signal as much as possible ‘hi i’m single and ‘exciting”! She has now got into the habit before every update to send her text to me so i can ‘double check’ her standard of presentation, which must be unnervingly upbeat ‘Really excited about my gym class this morning‘, but always sounding a little (and she won’t thank me for this) *ahem* desperate around the edges, ‘I’m getting so buff right now!’

And thus, we return to the ‘evil’ of Facebook.  I know the Facebook landscape well because, well I’ve occupied (and researched) it since the beginning. It is a networked path that tells the tale of its many pebbles as they wash up on its shores. The first thing that I did with my Profile Page was to seek to accumulate as many friends as possible. But then it was 2004 and I was away from home in Australia. I happened to also have my MySpace profile, but trying to engage ‘properly’ with others who called themselves ‘blackknight’, ‘surfrider’, ‘eatingout’ and so on smacked of seedy chat(back)rooms and quite frankly made a mockery of the whole friend network thing.

So far Facebook has bought us little offerings of ‘long lost’ friends (now reunited – what ever did happen to that OTHER site(?)), enabled us to be amused by our now friends, and even to (on occasion) have introductions to friends you do not yet know. None of this makes me feel sad or insecure about the future of ‘what They might do with my data’.  To prevent such potential pitfalls and draw in your rant the ‘safest’ thing to do is not to be on Facebook at all. OR any other socially led site. And you had better delete your email and end your mobile phone contract whilst you’re at it. There’s LOTs of surveillance data there too.

And so I stop short of your ‘Facebook is evil’ digression, and insist rather that, like anything, if handled in the right way you can enjoy the endless jibber jabber of what your friends are doing, and then lunge into new connections with a flurry of entusiasm – just so long as you do check your privacy settings.

One Response to “#861 evil Facebook”

  1. says:

    LOL Facebook’s privacy policy is now longer than the US Constitution – 50 settings and over 170 options
    No surprise than mass leave Facebook movement takes off – will it happen?

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