Facebook’s Kingdom

When there is a new announcement in IT, for some reason it is presented with far more fanfare than any other industry. Bring out the blaring trumpets and the dancing girls, because Facebook/Google/Apple is holding a press conference!

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Another big problem being created here is the casual attitude that Facebook is apparently taking with people’s private information. They are getting more and more invasive. Read this to see what is going on - it is not pretty. Somehow Facebook doesn’t seem to care.

One of the arguments that could be presented is that it is a free service and you should be grateful. Well when I signed up I believed that they would take care of the information that I am entrusting them with. This is no longer true. I feel that Facebook has broken my trust, numerous times now. They changed the rules without asking me. And “Yes!” I did expect my own personal individual expectations of privacy to be respected.

Another shockingly poor assumption is that all these knots of friends have everything in their lives in common. Apparently they like the same books, they go to the same restaurants, they drive the same cars, and they can give each other sagely advice at the touch of a button. The articles about Facebook generally contain sentences like this: “Next time you’re buying a car just let your Facebook friends know and you will get great suggestions.” or “wondering what book to read next? Ask your friends on Facebook!”.

I would never ask my friends for advice on what car to buy, I do my own research (on the internet, whoops! And generally I can’t afford the cars they drive) and none of my friends have the same taste as me in books.

There is some kind of sense of excitement and amazement that is brought forth in the articles about big IT companies like Google or Facebook. Both companies do great things but somehow that morphs from an opinion held by the general public like “a company that provides us with products or services that we enjoy” to “this company will own the future of the earth and you need to be there!” when communicated by an “analyst”.

Here are some examples from the article How Facebook's Newest Feature Could Change the Internet.

“Maybe this could pave the way toward true targeted advertising: browsing CNN on my smart phone in Dupont, a mobile ad pops up with a happy hour coupon for a restaurant I said I liked on Yelp.” [I don’t even know where Dupont is, and I don’t know what Yelp is either. According to people in the know, this is a crime.]

“Or imagine a better news aggregation site: a waterfall of links with all of the articles "liked" by friends who self-identify as conservative on Facebook.”

Seriously, how badly am I begging for a “waterfall of links” to land in my lap?! Please, I am begging here, give me my waterfall of links! Sometimes I worry that I’m the only one who has a BS-Meter that explodes when I hear something like this. But I don’t think I am. Most big companies seem to make the assumption that their customers are not intelligent but I think this is wishful thinking on their part. I think most people actually have a fair amount of common sense.

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