Saturday, August 14, 2010

Facebook the future or is it George Orwell 1984?

With over 500 Million users, Facebook is basically one of the biggest countries in the world, even if it is only a virtual world. However facebook does know more about their citizen than any other country. This is almost scary, George Orwell's 1984 happens right here in facebook and nobody seems to worry.
I went to an after hour party, somebody made a picture of me and 10 minutes later it was on facebook with my name tag and location, thanks to GPS phones and face recognition.
Once I drove home from work in my Miata. The girls in a car left to me thought it is funny that I wear a hat, bang shortly after a picture of me was in facebook.
I am a very inactive Facebook user but my life is growing in facebook. People tag me in pictures or writing on my wall. A friend of mine got fired, because some of her old friends posted on her wall if she did already find a new job. She was even not looking for a job, but her boss did read this and told her to leave that she can find a better job.
There are privacy settings in FB, but the are complicated and don't prevent things like this easily. Even if I decline to be tagged in a picture, it is too late the post is out in the new country called facebook and everybody knows about. You can delete entries in your wall, but they only get flagged. Facebook does not delete anything.
Many new startups are jumping on the Facebook train and are helping Facebook to collect more data. Facebook is going to know more about people than the CIA, KGB and FBI together. There is no need to hire hundreds of investigators, the crowd of 500 million people do it for them.
I could delete my Facebook account, but then I can't see anymore what is going on with my information in the Facebook land.
But now the next level is starting, FB knows your social behavior but has not a real understanding about your buying habit. This is changing with FB connect. More and more companies are allowing users to use their FB account to place orders, to make the life for the consumer easier. Who does not want a single sign on. But the danger is that FB is now collecting much more data from people outside the FB country.
Like I would travel to Europe and any purchase or action I do, would be transmitted to the American government.
I see a big change in our privacy thinking and life, i am pretty sure it does not take long till the court is accepting FB as a tool to identify criminals like a finger print.
I love FB, I love to be connected with my friends from all over the world. I love to hear the stories about sisters did find each other after 30 years through FB.
But we need to define better privacy laws, any human should have the right to define what the public or government is allowed to know outside of name, social security etc.
FB is big but has only really 14% very active users (and 20% of the users are responsible for 80% traffic). However it is getting more and more information from inactive users through other companies, which are using facebook connect or FB login.
Right now there is no threat, because we think we don't have to hide anything and nobody is using the data collected against us besides for marketing.
But the threat is coming when FB is changing our live outside the virtual world. It happens and it happens more and more.
People will get fired because of virtual rumors and stories, marriages are getting divorced because of information the spouse found on FB. People get robbed because FB helped the robber to know when the house is empty.
Maybe I am just too negative, but in this case I don't believe in self regulation in a space where everything is stored digital and controlled by an institution.
Zuckerberg did something genius and dangerous.
FB never forgets, as the Internet never does, we need to have something in place which will delete data older than 3 years but how? The Internet is now so big with billions of pages and servers impossible to control. A digital fingerprint is harder to delete than cutting a finger off.
We all should be aware that internet and FB changed our life. We can't control and we can't escape, but at least we can fight that certain information in internet or FB can not be taken against us.

- Posted using My iPad

Location:Spinning Wheel Ln,Spring Hill,United States

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