Seriously folks, it's a FREE site, and it's on the Internet. And really, who, in 2010, is actually naive enough to think that Anything they put on the Internet is really "private"? [pullquote]If I have a thought, opinion, picture, story, etc., that I don't want people to know about, I wouldn't dream of putting it on the Internet.[/pullquote]
As for me ....
But since, generally speaking, I Do want people to know what I think, and what I do, I have no problem with the fact that my status updates on Facebook are now searchable by the entire Internet. In fact, truth be told, I think it's good.
I'm a marketer. One of the reasons I jump on the computer every day is that I want to meet, and connect with, interesting new people. The easier it is for them to find, and learn about me, the better.
Which is why, to me, one of the strangest things about this whole "controversy" is that many of my marketing friends are some of the people throwing the biggest hissy fits about facebook's privacy settings. I honestly don't understand?
Facebook Instant Personalization Pilot Program
I also have no problem with the idea that if I visit a site on the Internet, while I'm logged into my facebook account, and they have access to my facebook interests, they might use that information to present me with more relevant advertisements.
If these sites are going to show me ads anyway, why wouldn't I want to see something I might actually be interested in?
What, am I afraid I might be more likely to buy something if the ads are relevant to me?
If you really need privacy on a network ...
Here's the cold hard truth: if you really need a "private" place to interact and share with your friends and family, Facebook (or any other "free" social networking site, for that matter) is probably NOT a good option for you.
Here's what I'd do if I wanted to set up a (theoretically) private network online ...
- I'd buy my own web hosting account (you can find them for $10 or less a month)
- I'd install either wordpress with the buddypress plugin, or I'd use a free message board script such as phpBB or SMF (which can be installed with one click via fantastico).
- I'd password protect the directory, and just for good measure upload a robot.txt file with "User-agent: *
- I'd invite (and give the password to) only the people that I want to share my stuff with
This is probably a workable solution. But, it's not terribly easy, and it's not free. Plus, honestly, how many of my friends are really going to take the time to read and/or post anything on "Todd's private network" anyway?
Bottom line, if you want to network online (especially when using a "free" site) you should expect that your information will be shared with others; and that the site will try to monetize your content and information in some way.
If either of those prospects are unacceptable to you, I'm sorry but you really shouldn't sign up for the "free" sites in the first place.
Thought to remember:
On the Internet (actually really in life) "free" is almost never actually FREE
Til next time ...