Category Archives: Social Networking

Facebook is only free because *you’re* the product!!

Perhaps you’ve heard that before. Perhaps you’ve seen this (hilarious) image:

Two pigs discussing why it's free to live in the barn.

Author unknown

But OH MY GOD relax! All that’s really being sold is a marketing profile of you. Never before in history have you ever been given so much in return for such information. Yes, before, it was obvious, when you filled out an entry form to win the beautiful car parked behind velvet ropes at the mall, that you were exchanging your address and phone number for a 1 in a million chance of winning the car. Now it’s not so obvious, but it’s the same thing and the service that Facebook provides is nothing short of amazing. Much better than a 0.0001% chance of winning a car.

So, yes, Facebook is free for perfectly capitalist reasons. It’s ok. Really.

All the other complaints in this article about how FB threatens to Zuck up the human race? They’re legit, but singling out Facebook is overreaching. These problems are the inevitable outgrowth of our increasingly connected technological environment. It was always going to be the case that we’d start to abuse that easy connectivity just as we abuse easy access to food. See Diseases of affluence on Wikipedia.

You might as well blame Cisco.

New Facebook privacy scare!

Massive social network

from Rich Kid's Campus

I love social networking. Say what you will, it’s never been easier to keep in touch with friends and family.

As a technologist, I particularly love the “network” part of it. I’m really happy about the way the big companies have opened up their APIs, which allows third party developers to add all sorts of functionality that no one company, however large, could or would build on their own. I also roll my eyes when people complain that Facebook and other social networks areGASPexposing our personal information without our knowledge. Why? Because it’s not without our knowledge. You don’t even have to read fine print to understand that. Sharing personal information is the purpose of social networks after all. It does mean that people share more than they used to, and that can be embarrassing in ways that didn’t used to be possible, but I think it’s worth it.

Yet I’ve realized recently that I shouldn’t be quite so dismissive every time I see yet another “FaceBook Privacy Scare!” headline. There’s a valid point to the concerns about what happens to your data in social networks. Even though it should be obvious that saying/revealing/posting things on a free public site is by nature a public exposure, what isn’t obvious is that modern data-mining techniques have ramifications here that almost no one is truly prepared for. After all, sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic: Continue reading