Haven’t you heard? Facebook is evil. The social networking site wants to snoop on you, snaffle all your personal info, and flog it to advertisers. There is no escape. Oh, and the ‘like’ button will eat the internet. Or something.
Facebook rage is everywhere right now. These rants range from the high-minded and academic to the shrieky and hysterical, but they all basically express the same fear – that Facebook is rapidly on its way to becoming the next Google: an online behemoth that tramples competition and erodes civil liberties in the pursuit of market dominance.
Well, maybe. The thing is, I just can’t bring myself to care. I don’t know about you, but all that’s on my Facebook profile is photos of cats, quotes from Black Books and links to Robot Unicorn. If Facebook can sell that on to anyone, good luck to them.
Besides, the information’s already out there. You’ve probably given your details to some competition or survey at some point which has already sold it on, and on, and on. Or maybe you’re on the NHS database, in which case someone’s probably left it on a train to save you the trouble.
And it’s not like we haven’t colluded in all this. We are the generation that has uploaded, Flickrd, Tweeted and Tumblrd every element of our lives by our own volition ever since Web 2.0 first made it possible. It’s a bit late to whinge about privacy now.
Hypocritical, too. You’ll notice the most vicious criticism of Facebook comes from the kind of gung-ho internet libertarians who refuse to pay for anything – because information supposedly “wants to be free” – and who blithely grab everything gratis (music, films, journalism) while railing against any company that attempts to make money out of the web.
What’s the big crime, exactly? Personally, I don’t care how much my profile is sold for. As long as it’s only one of millions, sold to some faceless Facebook-reaper who doesn’t know me, who will then use it to try and sell me shit that I will not buy, they can carry on with their futile efforts as long as they like if I get to use Facebook for free in return.
Yes, free. Don’t forget, this is a site that enables you to stay in touch with your friends every minute of the day – and you’ve never paid a penny for it. There’s bound to be a pay-off somewhere.
So if you’re really upset about Facebook profiting from your html soul, then you’ll either have to drop out and make your own social network out of tin cans and string, or simply accept that someone, somewhere, will try and flog you something based on what you’ve posted. Because ultimately, Facebook is a business, it is not our friend.