Sigh. I was not planning on writing a post on Facebook although I have been sharing extensively on the issue. Still, I was not going to step out on my own and say a word until Brad Shorr and Joanna Paterson double teamed me. Okay, they did not intentionally double team me. Unbeknownst to one another both published posts yesterday on Facebook. Both, in their typical style, examined the issue and offered honest, balanced opinions. That however is not what prompted me to write, no it was a comment by Brad on Joanna’s post that reminded me of my social responsibility to educate others on a key issue that is in fact in my area of expertise. Sigh.
So, is Facebook evil? I cannot pretend to know the hearts and minds of the Facebook team but in a word “no.” Like Joanna and Brad, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. To be fair, I also love-hate email, twitter and coupons. Welcome to my world. Yes, Facebook has convoluted, unbelievably complicated privacy controls, and I take my stand with others seeking a change, but evil is pushing it in my opinion.
Privacy online is a myth. I learned this years ago when we had nothing more than email and bulletin boards. I sent a “private” email to a recently fired colleague. My “private” email ended up as “evidence” in my friend’s lawsuit against the company. A simple gesture of kindness, and solidarity sent “privately” was in fact discoverable. The lesson stuck and 9/11 pushed it deeper.
Yet, the platforms we use also have a responsibility in making it easy for us to manage the flow of information. This is the “hate” part of my relationship with Facebook.
There are those that will diligently plow through the information, read the policy carefully and take precautions. Others will ignore or tune out the hubbub and continue to play Farmville, chat with friends and post funny pictures. Still others will protest loudly and lead an army of people to quit altogether.
The people who will ignore the warnings are largely the “real people” that brought many of us to Facebook in the first place. You know the people who don’t live in the social media echo chamber, are not opted in to a million lists and simply take the web and its content at face value. Yea, the people we marketers salaciously went after once we discovered they were on Facebook.
I find it hypocritical that “we” descended upon Facebook in droves and happily took advantage of the freedom to grow our networks and market our careers, products and services yet we now spit venom at the “evil ones” for daring to actually collect and use that information.
Again, this is no defense of Facebook’s policy but perhaps we should take the plank out of our own eyes before we remove the speck in our brother’s eye. We created this with our sharing and connecting. Did we really believe that a free tool would not see an opportunity to monetize our actions?
I am all for protesting to make things better and safer for everyone. I am joining the one day Facebook black out and I will continue to loudly add my voice to others urging for change but I will not cry foul and leave entirely. We have a responsibility to protect ourselves and I believe our communities. So, I will continue to love-hate Facebook but I will not blame them for a monster we collectively created.
How about you? What precautions do you take online? What are your feelings about online privacy?
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