Sunday, May 9, 2010

Is Facebook Skynet?

Lots of folks are linking to this illustration of the changes in facebook's default privacy settings.  Funnily enough, that page also shows how powerpoint and other presentation software can be used intelligently to demonstrate a point. 

Anyhow, Facebook continues to make changes, aimed at increasing its ability to make money for itself.  I cannot begrudge that, but the way they do that may not be optimal for themselves or their users.  Perhaps it makes sense to alter the default settings so that the new networking stuff aimed at making Facebook as tied into the internet as Skynet.  The irony is that by facilitating social networking, Facebook has made it much easier for information about Facebook's new policies and how to react to them to spread.  This may not entirely offset Facebook's efforts, but the irony remains nonetheless.

There is no way to avoid some exposure to the world if one joins Facebook, but that is the point of the exercise.  After that, one has to be aware that this network that was once very limited is now global and has a built-in tendency to reveal information.  The keys are to post only stuff that is not embarrassing and engage in constant vigilance about one's privacy settings.  And it seems to be the case that at least the younger folks are getting it

“I don’t think they would look out for me,” she said. “I have to look out for me.”

Whether the folks who are less quick to adapt (say, those over 45) get it is not so clear.  Indeed, I wrote the preceding line before reading today's NYT piece on this topic.  Turns out that older folks are not as conscious about their privacy on Facebook.  Of course, such folks are less likely perhaps to post embarrassing stuff online. 

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