Today is Quit Facebook Day, but I won’t be participating. I have many concerns about Facebook’s apparent complete disregard for the privacy of its users, but the baby isn’t going out with the bathwater, yet.
Canada’s privacy commissioner has scolded Facebook in the past and forced them to make changes but Facebook is like the cat who came back. They keep making changes to their privacy because they want to monetize their site. I don’t have a problem with that, but it needs to be in a way that protects the contributions of Facebook users.
I think the best approach is to lock down your privacy as much as Facebook allows, going to “friends only.” I also have a policy of not adding people whom I have not met or are not identifiable. I have added a couple who do violate this policy, but I felt comfortable adding them because of connections to other people I know, so there’s no problem there.
There are some “friends” that I have not added that aren’t actually people but maybe something like Lucy the elephant. These profiles are more appropriate as fan pages and I have not added them. How do I know who is behind the profile or who has access to it? Deny. As a fan page I’d consider “liking” them.
It would also be wise to limit potentially embarrassing or damaging information on your profile. I hear stories about potential employers finding these types of things on Facebook profiles and I always wonder why these people have open profiles in the first place.
I don’t have embarrassing information in my profile, but it doesn’t matter. No potential employer is going to see my profile unless they’re already a friend, in which case they already know me well enough to know my talents and flaws (hoping the talents outweigh the flaws!).
Facebook is one of the primary ways I keep in touch with friends and family. I would be very reluctant to eliminate it from my life. That’s not to say it won’t happen if Facebook continues to abuse its position with the site’s users.
While I don’t talk to everyone all the time (who has the time for that), I do try to go through everyone’s profile on a regular basis just to see what everyone is up to. Status updates, in my view, are the seeds of conversation.
My advice to Facebook is to respect user privacy and find a way to make money that doesn’t involve selling out its users. You as a Facebook user create a lot of value in your activities.
Facebook knows that data miners love things like Facebook so they can learn new ways of selling you things. Consider yourself “ore” in Facebook’s eyes. Facebook has a huge deposit of 400 million or more users and that’s a lot of value.
All Mark Zuckerberg has to do is find a way to mine the ore without destroying the deposit. So far he hasn’t done such a great job, which is why government regulators have to step in and slap his wrists. Facebook is his to destroy. I hope he makes better decisions in the future.