Thursday, May 6, 2010

To Facebook or Not to Facebook?

A couple of weeks ago I set up a Facebook account. I did it more out of curiosity than anything else. I wanted to know what this thing was. I'm still not sure.

I didn't do anything to make my presence known, but some friends found me anyway.

I've only been looking at the thing for a little while, but I'm not all that sure I like it. The user interface seems to be poorly designed. When I want to change privacy settings I have to do a lot of clicking. And it's not all that intuitive. I've tried to use a couple of applications, but some of them don't work right. I've been told that when Facebook updates its system it can cause some apps to fail. That's pretty clumsy right there.

Then there are the privacy concerns. Just scanning the web today I see articles in PCWorld, The New York Times, and Bloomberg. ZDNet has lots of stuff, including an article on how to secure some measure of privacy on Facebook.

The more I look at it, the more it seems to me that the people who run Facebook are not to be trusted. Their business model seems to be one of exploitation. The users of Facebook are not its customers. They are its commodity. That's true of any successful social media network or any free web service. The real customers are either advertisers or people who are paying for information about users. Services I like to use seem to understand the balance between making money from the paying customers and keeping the users happy and secure.

I found this piece, advocating quitting Facebook altogether, thought provoking.

My question is, should I just lock down my account or should I kill it? I link some of my Tweets to Facebook, so my friends who don't use that service can see what I'm saying. It's nice to see what friends who don't Tweet or have blogs are thinking about. For that, if nothing else, Facebook is kind of nice. Other than though, I don't think I'm going to use the service very much. It's just a little too creepy.

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