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Business Models, Internet, Society

Facebook oh Facebook, why betray us like that?

Who´ve read my last post and who´s following the news, knows already about what Facebook is up to these days, and I must admit, that I´m a little disappointed but not nearly surprised.

Big Brothers New Clothes

As Froma Harrop so wonderfully wrote, big Brother had quite a fashion update: T-shirts, sweats, boyish grin, curly hair and now you go by the name Mark Zuckerberg.

 

 

 

There is no such Thing as a free Lunch

If you decide to join the facebook land it´s pointed out that: “It’s free and always will be.”  We all know nothing is for free – micro and corporate finance taught us there is no such thing as a free lunch. So what is for free? Free access to my data for the highest bidder? Well that must be it, since Facebook has a value of approximately $100 billion and as Ms. Harrop so sharply remarks, it has absolutely nothing to sell except information about its 800 million members.

Spy Glasses are Old-School, Facebook knows the real Stuff

So how do you get the goods to sell? So far it went roughly like that: I hit “like” on the SATC page on Facebook and next thing I know is I get informed of the newest Manolo Blahnik designs. The new approaches lure already around the corner. April Dembosky, reporter for the “Financial Times” informes, that Facebook is set to announce an advertising system based on the new Timeline feature. Personal data will be taken and repackaged into ads. Of course there was an uproar about that announcement, but as Rebecca Lieb, an analyst with the Altimeter Group said in the Financial Times:

“After the initial hue and cry, people settle down and accept this stuff. People care more about getting free media than they do about their privacy.”

And that Timeline really helps everyone to follow your life on facebook in a neatly sorted way, warns Sarah Jacobsson Purewal on pcworld.com. Up to now, to see posts from 2008 for example, you needed to go to the Facebook profile, wait for the 25 most recent posts to load, and then click “older posts” about 500 times, to take a look on your thoughts from 2008. Now events or wall posts are way easier to find because now you can search the Facebook profile by date. Isn´t that convenient?

Privacy Settings 2.0

Froma Harrop further mentions, that Facebook recently settled with the US Federal Trade Commission over changes it made to its privacy settings without obtaining users’ consent. They would have published pictures, hometown, friends list and other information for everyone visible. The explanation or excuse was simple: changes offered a “simpler model for privacy control.” I´m not sure whether simpler is always better, because if you write things simpler don´t you have to skip a few facts? Take Google for example. It just got rid of over 60 different privacy policies and replaced them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Members of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee looked into this simplification and complained that Google “danced” around the details while going on and on about its efforts to “enhance the user experience.”

 

The transparent Users

Mark Zuckerberg wrote:

“By giving people the power to share, we’re making the world more transparent.”

Hmm… transparent for whom I wonder? Transparency might be reasonable in financial statements and government plans, but must it be applied to when and where I bought the orange juice for last nights tequila sunrise?

No of course not, you can actually make your profile more private.

To do this, go to Privacy Settings and you will be led through the whole process. Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, described very easy and step by step how to make your Timeline more private, how to hide posts and how to delete your posts from other people’s timelines, so it is at least not that easy for everyone to get to know you, though you´ve never met before.

But even with these privacy settings, that are just as dependent on Facebook’s rules as the font size of your posts, have we maybe reached the point of full disclosure? Could it be better to pull the plug and draw back some of Facebooks money bags, by simply quit?

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