Should You Delete Your Facebook Account?

I saw this op-ed in the San Antonio paper yesterday (it’s a couple of weeks old, first appearing here). I shared it with my wife Amy. Her reaction was similar to mine: Whoa.

The claim is that Facebook, led by 26-year-old founder Mark Zuckerberg, is systematically liberalizing it’s privacy policy and practices. Why?  To earn more revenue by packaging and selling your and my data to advertisers. Zuckerberg justifies it by saying he is just trying to make it easier to share information with friends. Right.

These two paragraphs stand out:

The truth is, Zuckerberg needs your data. His business is built upon it. The most important thing to understand about Facebook is that you are not Facebook’s customer, you are its inventory. You are the product Facebook is selling. Facebook’s real customers are advertisers. You, as a Facebook member, are useful only because you can be packaged up and sold to advertisers. The more information Facebook can get from you, the more you are worth. In response, a FB spokesman told me: “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

In 2005 the Facebook’s privacy policy was one sentence long and said that none of your information would be shared with anyone who wasn’t in one of your groups. Today the policy is longer than the U.S. Constitution and requires a lawyer to parse its meaning. Why doesn’t Facebook just use its original one-sentence policy? I’ll take a wild guess and say advertisers, not members, were the driving force here.

Now, I’m not terribly paranoid, so my concern is not so much about my privacy but about choosing to not participate anymore in this billion dollar business. I’m considering deleting my account.

Check out Facebook’s privacy policy for yourself. It is long, and it was recently revised.

What do you think?

Posted in Responsibility on 06/07/2010 07:00 am
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