Has Facebook become too big for it’s boots?
May 16, 2010 18 Comments
The recent controversy surrounding Facebook and its use of users data set me thinking. Of course there are many who consider that if you are willing to access the Internet and place any of your personal data on any website for whatever reason, then you can more or less kiss your privacy goodbye and that none of us should expect anything different. But is it really inevitable? An impossibility to be able to use social networking sites and still keep most of your details private? Or allow some users to view some data but not others? And should we expect social networking sites to have the right to use our data in whatever way they like?
I make no secret of actually not being a huge fan of Facebook even before all this controversy about their use of our data. I only joined in the first place because a family member asked me to, but since then quite a few family members have also joined, thereby creating a kind of snowball effect where you stay on there because everyone else is using the site. Because of its popularity its hard not to find anyone who isn’t on Facebook! But is all that about to change? Is the tide turning? There have been some defections of late especially from a few media savvy type of users who feel that Facebook set out to be one thing in the first place and has now turned into an entirely different beast altogether as it has become more popular.
I also happen to think that there are much better Social Networking sites around that are far superior, but of course that’s my own personal view. I hate the way that if you do want to take a look or try out one of the Games and/or applications on there, they blatantly refuse to work unless you supply not only your personal data, but that of your friends as well. Yet strangely, not many users on Facebook actually seem to question this. Why? Why do the applications on Facebook need to know the names of your friends before they will let you access them or begin to play them?
You could argue I suppose that its a way to gain more users so if one person begins to use your application or game and a proviso of that usage is that they supply you with their friends data, you can then contact all those friends and they will also join. But why not just simply leave it to the user to ‘spread the word’ about your application? After all, I could argue if its a brilliant game or application then surely your users will tell others about it and especially in the case of a game, encourage their family and friends to join them in playing it? Why not use that strategy instead? The other annoyance of course is the constant updates arriving in your Facebook feed from friends and family about the applications! Grrr!
It also left me wondering just what these applications were actually doing with all this data that they collect? The other annoyance for me personally is that Facebook is the only Social networking site where I can’t use my nickname. (which is actually the name that most others know me by on the internet anyway.)
I tried. Oh how I tried! It would not accept any of my ‘workarounds’ that I vainly used to get it to accept me as Technogran! The argument given regarding that pet peeve is that Facebook is a site where others can find you because they know your real name. Now that might have been true when Facebook first began and was aimed solely at old friends that you had lost touch with from University, College or school, but now its a feeble reason in my opinion, especially where women are concerned who have probably changed their maiden name at least once, thereby rendering the insistence on users such as myself to use my real name in order that old school chums, work colleagues etc can easily find me, as completely irrelevant.
But it does allow advertisers, businesses etc to be able to access my real name AND all my data that they can use to their advantage. And this is the big problem. WHO really does have access to your data? Or is it rendered no longer yours by the very fact that you have bothered to fill in all those details in response to the excuse ‘so that your friends can easily find you.’ Who asked users if it was okay to hand out that data? Who asked users if it was okay to change privacy settings and allow other sites to be able to access your data? Did Facebook users give permission for all this to happen, or was it just enabled without so much as a ‘by your leave.’ I have to ask myself, now that Facebook has become so gigantic, has it now become ‘too big for its boots?’
Some other reads about this subject.