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Facebook's Folly
Michael considered fate at 13:16   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
If you haven't been paying attention then perhaps you have missed some recent Facebook goings-on. Nevermind the insipid way that "invitations" by friends to use applications that they have added are worded in such a way as to sound personal, when they are completely auto-generated. Nevermind the craptastic sharing of your personal data that must be agreed to, almost universally, if you want to add any of those applications. Now you get to share your shopping habits, without being informed or having the option to opt-out. Super:
"Facebook should explain why they chose at the last minute to put the wish lists of corporate advertisers ahead of the privacy interests of their users," MoveOn spokesman Adam Green said in a statement from the organization. "Facebook has the potential to revolutionize how we communicate with each other and organize around issues together in a 21st century democracy. But to succeed, they need the trust of their users. The fact that Facebook proactively chose to make it harder for their users to keep private information from being made public will rub a lot of Facebook users the wrong way. The ultimate act of good faith would be to switch to an opt-in policy."
Not surprisingly, Facebook is doing the run-around, proving that better interface design and pokes does not necessarily imply that Facebook is any more caring of the end user than Myspace.

Meanwhile, Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing puts into words what we have all been thinking about social networking for some time:
.. For every long-lost chum who reaches out to me on Facebook, there's a guy who beat me up on a weekly basis through the whole seventh grade but now wants to be my buddy; or the crazy person who was fun in college but is now kind of sad; or the creepy ex-co-worker who I'd cross the street to avoid but who now wants to know, "Am I your friend?" yes or no, this instant, please.

It's not just Facebook and it's not just me. Every "social networking service" has had this problem and every user I've spoken to has been frustrated by it. I think that's why these services are so volatile: why we're so willing to flee from Friendster and into MySpace's loving arms; from MySpace to Facebook. It's socially awkward to refuse to add someone to your friends list -- but removing someone from your friend-list is practically a declaration of war.
I linked a link to the article on BoingBoing, not the Information Week article itself because of the comments on the BoingBoing post, pointing out all the other things people hate about Facebook, and social networking in general. Some even predict a bursting of the "bubble" that is this little craze.. Sadly, I have my own personal doubts that any significant social networking recession will arise anytime soon. Some things are fads, like bell bottoms. Other things, like TV and AIDS, are a lot more impossible to shirk once they've attached themselves to your society. The bottom line is that, for every person who is worried about privacy concerns and actual, useful social networking features, there are 10 tweens in the O.C. that don't care so long as their pictures show up and their pokes get through.

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