Back in March we posted access to a Facebook information to have you stand at the center of the conspiracy working to bring Communism to the United States. After the cackles died down (and the secret handshakes of the Illuminati were shared), we at MKCREATIVE wondered about the privacy implications of such a video. One short-term point we made, and one that bears repeating, is that by enjoying the video with our own mugs and friends-as-co-conspirators we are simply drawing from information we have already chosen to make public about ourselves. But the possibility of our semi-private (pseudo-private?) information running away from our control has been further heightened by Facebook’s latest move to have us link our likes around the net – what CEO of Facebook calls the ‘Social Graph‘: “We’re building toward a web where the default is social. Every application and product will be redesigned from the ground up to use a person’s real identity and friends.” Who will vouch for that ‘real identity’ and what will be bought and sold with the information linked are but two questions worth asking.of the Fox News/Glen Beck phenomenon – a video that can, if you allow it, tap into your
As our readers know, Facebook has far outstripped other in terms of hours logged and new accounts per annum (even with an accepted fudge that some people have more than one account). The phenomenon has influenced our computing habits, our language, and our tolerance for the private to be public. The latest development, the ‘Social Graph,’ will be linked up with a web application/object labeled ‘Like.’ By clicking on the button, where ever it will be throughout the internet landscape, your Facebook page will link your interest in the page, product, or blog with your friends. One of the things that commentators have quickly noted is that the need for a Fan page (usually associated with bands, community groups, non-profits, and businesses) largely disappears, as any ‘likes’ the organization registers becomes part of the shared information anyway.
The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson is cautiously optimistic about the development: he sees a potential for privacy dangers, though he reminds us that your Likes are tagged all over the net precisely because you have chosen to link them through your account and your Social Graph – hardly a sinister effort on Facebook’s part. ‘s blog “Scobleizer” lauds the (though his test case is the rather innocuous sharing of his musical interests). Dan Costa at PCMag.com presents what we think is the important caveat: Facebook is not forcing us to do anything. But Facebook has a vested interest in enticing us to have all our metrics public to garner corporate interest, and Facebook skews the presentation of our choices toward simply accepting the inevitability of all-things-public.
The striking undertone to the discussions we have been following on this issue is the acceptance by both the excited and the paranoid of the ‘slippery slope’ argument – that the presence of Facebook’s ‘Like’ web app will spread like wildfire, that any site that does not have such a tie-in will seem weird, that we will simply accept following our ‘Friends’ around to their Likes (and expect them to follow ours). Again, friends (in the, uh, classical sense of ‘supporters’ or ‘close associates or partners’) and foes alike seem prepared for a certain amount of ‘bullying’ (my term). Costa states the issue succinctly:
In the past, Facebook would ask you to share your data with each app that wanted to access your profile. Not anymore. Make something “public” and it won’t just appear on Facebook, but throughout the Facebook ecosystem. Again, this is a user-choice, but it is rarely an informed one.
In other words, be careful about who you friend because your information will show up when you visit one of these pre-approved sites.
For groups like non-profits (i.e. organizations that have no need for ‘privacy’ AS an organization) the Social Graph could certainly be a godsend: a site visited and ‘liked’ by one could quickly draw hundreds of interested readers following their friend’s link. We shall see how individuals take the changes as they check out those non-profits, only to find their visit metastasize into a friend’s friends’ node, comment, or sales pitch.