Tag Archives: facebook

Facebook, privacy and the new norm

29 Sep

Every time Facebook tweaks their interface people will find reason to complain. Yet the initial irritation wears off and people grow accustom to the changes. And it’s funny – the more intrusive Facebook becomes, we adapt ourselves to this sort of full disclosure and the more integral it becomes in our daily lives. Friends can peak into another side of our virtual selves. Whether or not it enhances our interactions is debatable but privacy still remains the biggest controversy of them all.

I remember thinking newsfeed was TMI when it was introduced. Now I can’t imagine Facebook without it. I disliked the ‘like’ button for as long as I knew it fed information to the third party advertisers. Now I’ve given in some and liked so far as my favorite brands.

Transparency, although similar to privacy, is not an issue for me. I don’t care if people see my wallposts, or notice when I comment on something. What I don’t like are the cookies that are being stored. I don’t like the thought of being traced and having that information used for data analysis and plugged into algorithms. Privacy policies always say they remove our identity from the stats, but we are a stat nontheless. Combined with the masses we create valuable information as a whole. Something seemingly mundane as entering age, location, the when and where we log onto Facebook reveal plenty. That alone can track the daily habits of a young professional like myself.

Facebook has more information than the census could ever accumulate. They say they use sensitive data to best serve us. Perhaps. But, serving us comes with new product placements from paid advertisers. According to one blogger/hacker, Facebook has tracked cookies even after logging out of their homepage. They have only recently admitted to it as a bug and “fixed” it. (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2393750,00.asp#fbid=F0HsYn-e0gy)

Facebook’s biggest change arrives with its introduction of the new timeline. Facebook has astonishingly and maybe not surprisingly stored all of your activity since you first joined. On your profile it has laid out all of the activity on a timeline for you and your friends to see. Information such as every poke, like, check-in and defriending is stored. Reading some of that history threw me for a loop. It knew more than I cared to remember. If that wasn’t enough, they analyze some of that data and chart it. For example, all of your checkins over the month are put together on a map. I can only guess the next step will be analyzing the data further into more charts and graphs and compiling all of your actions into mathematical formulas. Maybe it will predict future activity. We will become walking mathematical functions giving data away to Facebook while others cash in on it. Is it such a terrible thing? Depends on your view of privacy.

I wonder if people will adopt these drastic changes? Will it become the norm just as newsfeed did? Have we finally reached the saturation point of full disclosure? There isn’t much left to say as Facebook continues to excavate our lives. They may know more about us than our moms do and that to me is a very scary thought.

Revisiting Google Plus

4 Aug

A month has passed and G+ has integrated nicely into my life. In the few days I started using it, G+ felt like an exclusive club where we got to hang out with some of the tech bigwigs. People like Myspace founder Tom Anderson and VC/entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki were suddenly reinstating their influence and making a lot of noise – mostly good noise. They loved it and everybody loved it too and shared their devotion to G+ and prided themselves as G+ users.

Having been on G+ for a month now, the growing G+ community took me by the most surprise. I didn’t expect to find the majority of users to be programmers, engineers and nerds like myself who were also into technology. That’s a huge reason why I stayed on G+ and love about it. I’m biased however.

Besides that, people were also adding thoughtful dialogue, sharing new content and making new connections. It felt authentic, closer to a real life discussion than what I experienced on Twitter or Facebook. I felt more confident knowing people were actually adding me to their circles because they found me interesting. There was also little to no spam. That was a huge +1!

As I started using G+ more, I drew boundaries when sharing. Posting became more of a conscious effort and I became aware of my audience. I don’t sync my updates among all social platforms. I use each for specific purposes and feel like each has different effects in amplifying thoughts and ideas.

When I share a post on Facebook, I get responses from a core group of friends. I still tweet, but half the time it’s sorting through spambots and obsessing about your follower count. I still find Twitter trumps G+ on the news front however. With G+, it tries to be both, however it stands out by encouraging people to participate in a discussion with friends and strangers. That is probably the most amazing part.

Now the funny part about G+ is that the people don’t get tired of singing its praises. Somehow discussing G+ with other diehard users convinces themselves how great it is. Outsiders AND insiders hear the fanaticism over G+ and current users have dissected G+ more than the Google engineers who developed it! Bottom line: People really want to preserve this interactive community.

I am a believer in it too and actively using it. I’m still unsure whether I’ll leave Facebook altogether or if G+ will be interesting enough months from now to keep me engaged. I am observing my own social media behavior evolve as I spend more time on it. G+ does increase the social aspect of social media and that is a very good thing. While Facebook remains the lazy way of interacting with friends and Twitter focuses on popularity and online clout, G+ focuses on community. To my surprise, G+ is filling in the social media hole that I felt was missing in other platforms.