My wife likes to knit. And let's be honest, having this is pretty damn fashionable. Not to mention, it helps keeps me warm in a cold, cold world. So it’s been about two weeks since I ditched Facebook. And surprise, my life hasn’t gone into the gutter, people are still able to get a hold of me, and things are pretty much the same as they were, albeit with a bit less noise. Since that point, a few more things have come out to further muddle the issue of what (if any) privacy exists on Facebook. To quickly outline:

 

  • Their privacy policy is longer than the US Constitution.
  • To manage your privacy on Facebook, you will need to navigate through 50 settings with more than 170 options.
  • The NY Times had to do an infographic to explain the myriad of options (check it out here).
  • Mark Zuckerberg has basically been accused of everything from being an amoral sociopath to not giving a shit (not that he really should).

Every single shreader I've ever owned has jammed up within a few months, if not weeks. But I imagine that's par for the course. But this isn’t about all that. I’ve said my peace on the topic, and I deleted my profile. So it’s done. HOWEVER, I’ve had a few interesting discussions with folks online as information has come out. And that’s what has troubled me. Not what Facebook is doing, rather, what people’s reactions have been. More so, people’s response to my desire to have some privacy online. Or, more importantly, the desire to control what information is made public by any of the web services I use. Some of the comments I was given were:

  • No one cares what I am doing
  • If you want privacy, you must have something to hide
  • People will make judgments about me regardless of what info is available
  • If you don’t want it public, don’t put it online (no shit)
  • It’s a voluntary service (again, no shit)
  • Privacy is a myth

Think of it this way: your bank has a ‘social graph’ about you that makes the one Facebook has put together look like a bathroom wall scribbling. Think about all the places you use a debit card in a given day. Your bank has records of where you shop, what you eat, how much you drive, and when you do all these things. They have years worth of data, could pinpoint things such as when you begin dating, the birth of a child, or just about anything money related (which is, to say, just about everything you do). Now, imagine if they decided to write an API to allow companies to use this information to market products and services to you. Pretty creepy, eh? Well, don’t worry about it, because they won’t. In fact, they can’t. It’s illegal.

Now I’m not saying that banking is the same as using a social network online. They aren’t. But the fact remains that my desire to have some part of my life private is not anyone’s business but my own. And this coming from someone who is pretty open online. I tweet a lot, put photos up on Picasa and twitpic, maintain a blog, and even have my phone number on my portfolio site. So I’m clearly not ‘off the grid’. But there are a few things in my life that I don’t share. The reasons for which frankly aren’t any of your business.

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I know my big brother isn't LITERALLY watching me. He's busy. He might call or shoot over a text message, but I'm sure he has better things to do.

Over the weekend, I did what some would consider social media suicide. I deleted Facebook. You know, the place where EVERYONE is and EVERYONE needs to be. That one. Gone. Deleted. Goodbye. And not simply deactivating, but actually deleting the damn thing. It took a while to actually find how to do it, since they don’t make it obvious. So why did I commit seppuku to my online life?

It stopped serving a purpose. One could argue it never did.

Now a bit of background: I didn’t go to a college that had email for a while. It was a junior college, so they didn’t roll out email as soon as others. So inherently, I never had access to Facebook during the run-up with the college crowd. Also, I didn’t really attend college on a regular basis. Once on my way to class I stopped off to have a beer, and didn’t go back for 3 years. So there’s that. I was on the MySpace bandwagon pretty early on, and I held on to that for longer than most. But that’s gone, too.

A friend Ruth summarized her feelings on it pretty well, and coming from a different perspective. And that’s cool, it serves a purpose for her. But it doesn’t for me.

And then there is the privacy stuff.

Now I’m not some tinfoil hat person who thinks everyone is out to get me. Nor do I think that I have any real privacy online. Yes, it’s an illusion. But at what point is it just ridiculous? I understand that when I sign up for a website service, I’m giving them something of mine. Usually my data and some personal information. And I also know that’s probably gonna be used to market something to me. Again, I get it. Although some folks may not agree, the internet doesn’t run on rainbows and hugs. But when Facebook up and decides to give away my personal information to anyone who asks? That’s just a bit too much for me. It’s one thing for me to give away my information. It’s another for someone like Facebook to whore it out like a lonely girl with daddy issues.

Will I fall off the digital map? Doubtful. I use twitter, I have email, and even a *gasp* phone number. Crazy, eh? So I’ll see you around the ‘tubes. Don’t mess up the place while I’m gone.

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Maybe you need an additional spine to help with all the weight of social media rules now. Perhaps that's the problem. Like a lot of folks, I’m finally recovering from attending the South by Southwest Interactive conference. It was great to finally meet a lot of the folks that I’ve gotten to know on-line over the last few years in person, and meet a few more folks that I seem to have a lot in common with. And, without trying, I managed to generate some work for my freelance WordPress design business. I had a blast.

But I noticed something else. In these conversations, the names of a few people kept popping up with less than flattering opinions and statements made about them. One person in particular (name not required) came up over and over in a very negative light. Yet, of all the people who made these statements and shared their own negative experiences, only 2 of them had actually SAID anything to this person. They simply ignored them, or worse still passively communicated with them. A few folks actually told how they had been ‘bullied’ by this person when they attempted to ‘break’ their social media bonds.

This is sad on so many levels.

Here, let me wipe off my mouth first. I was busy mauling the latest blogging topic of choice right now, and need to get back to my 'community' of people who think that I'm awesome. Want to join? What happened to all the self-respect we talk so much about? Passion, personal goals, and all that jazz. Yet, when faced with a clear load of bullshit, we back down? Allow someone to speak FOR you, ABOUT you, and INSTEAD of you? What happened to this ‘voice’ we all had now?

You were taught better than this

Face it. You know that back when you were wee little ones, you were taught right from wrong, and how to stand up for yourself. It’s a worthy trait to have, self-respect. And I’m also guessing that you don’t enjoy dealing with douchebags and could do something better with your time. So I’ll make you a deal: cut the ties. If you think you’re missing out after 30 days, I’m sure they’ll still be there. But, will they even miss you?

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