Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    Facebook/MySpace and Privacy

    So, I don't have a Facebook or MySpace account. If I was going to get either, I'd go with Facebook (it seems more upscale and professional). That's not to say that I would, though.

    I don't want to rule it out completely, but I don't see a lot of advantage for me in having a Facebook account. From here on out, let's call it SN (SN = Social Networking).

    I think the thing that has always gotten me about SN sites is that you are placing lots of personal info out there for anyone to look at. There is no expectation of privacy when you use SN. None. I just can't imagine that that's a good or smart thing.

    In the video I embedded, the guy they interview, Clay Shirky, talks about no existing "social contract" to govern the use of SN information. An example of a social contract is how it's "rude" to eavesdrop on someone's conversation even when they're in a public place. It's "frowned upon".

    How does that play out practically? Your boss can see what you're doing, or a potential employer. What if that info contributes to your eventual firing (or being denied a job) because of perceptions? Further, once the info is out there, how do you contain it? What makes it worse is that the absence of a social contract means that this isn't even remotely off-limits. There's no brake on how people can use this information to perceive you.

    So, for me, I just don't think that I want to run the risk of having something out there that can shape how people perceive me that I can't control. Granted, I can't control how people perceive me in real life, but there's no need to toss more grenades out there.

    This does, however, make me wonder what the benefits of SN really are in a practical way. There must be some kind of motivation that I'm missing, or else millions of folks wouldn't be doing it. I'm sure I'm not operating with the whole picture. Maybe I should find out, but I don't want to do it with my real info.

    Maybe I should create a fake Facebook account...