Saturday, July 24, 2010

The deal with facebook

If you look around online you'll see that Facebook has become the new devil.

You read some of these articles and you hear stories about how Facebook is evil, steals your data and only a lunatic would even consider being a member.

Let me put some of this in perspective.

Yes, Facebook has very one-sided Terms of Service (That's the thing you didn't read and clicked straight through when you signed up). Yes, they make it difficult to delete your account… but am I completely wrong in thinking that this is 2010 and people should be a touch more web-savvy and think twice before voluntarily putting private, intimate data on the web?

Here's something from one of the articles I read:

"Essentially, they see their customers as unpaid employees for crowd-sourcing ad-targeting data."

Ok, let me point a few things out.

Firstly, Facebook is a business. It's not a charity or non-profit. They mine the data you put on there to target you with ads they think will interest you. Put a lot of info on Facebook about how much you love running, and it's highly likely you'll start to see ads by Nike. This is how they pay their bandwidth bill and make a profit…and it's not a new thing or unique to Facebook. Google Adsense does exactly the same thing. You put ads on your site and google's software looks at your site, and serves ads that will likely appeal to your users.

It's the way the internet works. Most stuff online is ad supported. Your favorite website isn't giving you all that content for free out of the goodness of their hearts, they give you that content for free, so you'll visit their site and look at the ads. They want as much info as possible on you because they want the ads they serve to be relevant so you'll click them.

However, the one thing I really take exception to is calling Facebook users 'customers'. Facebook users are not customers. The word 'customer' implies that Facebook users are paying for a service…but Facebook is free. Facebook isn't 'treating their customers as unpaid employees', they're giving their users free access to their site and all is features and pay for this with targeted ads instead of a subscription fee. If Facebook was a pay service, I would completely agree with all the nay-sayers…it's why I complain about paying 60 bucks for an Xbox game that's filled with product placement and ads.

Again, it's another classic case of people with a massive sense of entitlement being outraged that a business is trying to make money instead of spending millions to give them something for free.

Ok, I'll be completely fair and say that Facebook might not be 100% ethical, and they don't make it explicitly clear that your info is being made available to advertisers…but as I said at the start, this is 2010. If you have deeply personal, private information that you don't want the world to know about just don't put it on the internet.

It's for the same reason that I have a private, unpublished email address that I only give to people I actually know, and use a disposable web address for everything else. It's why my Facebook page only contains information that is already publicly available, and I keep my private information, you know, private.


Woman atop her Soapbox said...

I don't even use my real name on the internet and use tag names for everybody in my life just for that protection.

It's amazing how people put everything online.


rayray said...

Facebook:it's not just for attention whores anymore!