Internet

How Dare They Change This Service We're Not Paying For?

|

Facebook, an endless fucking high school reunion that never fucking ends

Color me agnostic on the Facebook terms of service rebellion. Facebook/Livre du Visage is a wonderful service that didn't exist just a short time ago. (At least it feels like a short time to me; you kids today think you invented sex.) It's been useful to me in getting contact information for many people. I have no expectation of privacy online and in fact would be flattered if even my family members took an interest in anything having to do with me.

Nor do I understand the problem with the new terms of service (beyond the apparent law of nature that every change to Facebook's TOS infuriates people). Is it the (now kiboshed) prospect that you would be able to see the list of friends (or fretends) in search results? That seems like a useful function: If you're looking for a particular Joe Blow and the search returns fifty Joe Blows (Joes Blow?), looking through the friends list seems like a good way to figure out if you've got the right yegg.

That having been said, all these TOS rebellions are sort of meta-struggles over how much people want their networks interacting with other networks. Facebook is called a "social networking" app, and the real value of a social network has always been the ability to exclude people. To a degree, a more public Facebook is a less attractive Facebook.

In any case, people are fuming. The Electronic Freedom Foundation's Kevin Bankston tells the San Jose Business Journal, "These new 'privacy' changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data."

TechCrunch's Jason Kinkaid writes, "Facebook is giving up its reputation as a 'private' social network — where the default is to restrict access to everything that is shared — in favor of something that can challenge Twitter head on. And, as I wrote last July, it may well be a disaster in the making."

And from one of my own fretends, whose privacy I am guarding with my life: "What's this Facebook is now CHANGING the 'privacy' rules so that I can NOT keep my profile picture or name private? This AFTER the disclosure that 40% of registered sex offenders prowl social networking sites for potential targets??"

Maybe there's a reason for all those scare quotes around "privacy." Back when the Web was new, Miss Manners recommended treating email as a more or less completely viewable medium like a postcard. Because of the infinite nature of electronic media, online communications are actually a lot more viewable than that -- as Paris Hilton and the generation of sexters she inspired have all learned. But the premise still holds. Putting stuff online (other than password and financial information on a secure server where you see the little lock icon, and even then don't expect miracles) is a form of publishing. If you're not publishing something with the goal of having it seen by as many people as possible, you've got it backward.

As Facebook security/hygiene concerns go, I'm much more concerned about a measurable increase recently in "Youu have been caught on camerrra" messages from my fretends. Unfortunately, while a Million People United may be able to get Facebook to change its policies, no force on earth can stop your friends and family members from being numbskulls who pass along virus spam.

Related:

You should have seen the February Facebook Terms of Service rebellion. I tell ya, it makes this one look a tiptoe through the tulips.

Only the guilty need fear, as GesichtBuch helps catch barroom criminals.

See Cult of the Amateur author and professional abuser of the English language Andrew Keen refer to "an immense amount of followers" here.

Sexual predators, the truest Facebookers of all, can't get Illinois to accept their friend requests.

And you guys probably haven't heard about this, but you can follow Reason on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.