image: adapted from

image: adapted from

From a good article ‘Why I’m quitting Facebook’ by Douglas Rushkoff at CNN:

… Facebook is just such a technology. It does things on our behalf when we’re not even there. It actively misrepresents us to our friends, and worse misrepresents those who have befriended us to still others. To enable this dysfunctional situation — I call it “digiphrenia” — would be at the very least hypocritical. But to participate on Facebook as an author, in a way specifically intended to draw out the “likes” and resulting vulnerability of others, is untenable.

Facebook has never been merely a social platform. Rather, it exploits our social interactions the way a Tupperware party does.

Facebook does not exist to help us make friends, but to turn our network of connections, brand preferences and activities over time — our “social graphs” — into money for others.

We Facebook users have been building a treasure lode of big data that government and corporate researchers have been mining to predict and influence what we buy and for whom we vote. We have been handing over to them vast quantities of information about ourselves and our friends, loved ones and acquaintances. With this information, Facebook and the “big data” research firms purchasing their data predict still more things about us — from our future product purchases or sexual orientation to our likelihood for civil disobedience or even terrorism.

The true end users of Facebook are the marketers who want to reach and influence us. They are Facebook’s paying customers; we are the product. And we are its workers. The countless hours that we — and the young, particularly — spend on our profiles are the unpaid labor on which Facebook justifies its stock valuation.

It *is* creepy. And he’s right about the HOURS people spend updating their profiles and info for Facebook. One of the things I do for a living is data grooming … hours of it in sporadic bursts … because it can be worthwhile. Links and networks and ‘social leverage points’ are highly valuable. Some without scruples exploit them, as we have seen, following down the line of social networks, professional networks, church and iwi networks with their toxic snake oil, pyramid schemes and investment scams.

Be careful what you give away to Facebook. Yes, it’s where the young people are (and the over 55’s, according to research quoted by the lovely Cate Owen on Radio NZ’s Mediawatch last weekend, 24 Feb 2013) … but be aware there’s the Facebook corporation, desperate, urgent, striving to ‘monetize’ their membership with stunts and offers like: ‘promote’ your posts to your ‘friends’ (and their ‘friends’).

My working model is that Facebook is, and always has been, untrustworthy.

Your opinion may differ, naturally. I recommend you read Rushkoff’s thoughtful article.

– P