Thursday, June 3, 2010

Facebook and Privacy

Recently there has been a big stink about Facebook's privacy settings, and I just saw on the news that the founder of the company got grilled at a tech conference.  He was made 'visibly uncomfortable' and most of his answers are rambling.  These are the classic signs of someone who knows he is not being honest but is afraid to tell the truth.
Here is what he would have said in a rational world:
"Yes, of course we are making money by using your personal information.  We have to.  We are giving you all a valuable and expensive service for free, so we have to make some money somewhere or shut down.  Running a massive website with millions of users is expensive.  We have to pay millions of dollars for web hosting and bandwidth and technical support.  Untargeted ads bring in alomost no revenue, so the only way we can stay in business is to run targeted ads and make deals with other companies.  If you don't like it, you can go somewhere else.  Good luck finding or making something that is as useful as my site."
Personally, I never saw what the fuss is about.  Changing the privacy settings is easy, and I have done so.  In addition, I only put things on Facebook that I would be comfortable with the whole world seeing.  Facebook was never meant to be a private system; it was explicitly designed as a way to broadcast things about yourself and make it easier for other people to learn about you.
But having said that, I have no problem with people who choose to leave Facebook.  If you do not like something, then you should stop using it.  That is the right and proper response to a company doing something you do not like.  Just don't whine and complain and make it a political issue and try to get the government involved.

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