I’ve closed the Book of Face…

I've closed the Book of Face...

Yep, it’s another article on Facebook. Why? Because Facebook is yet another step towards Huxley’s Brave New World…

Not having a Facebook account is like only living half a life. It’s like buying a box of chocolates, eating the cardboard box and all the wrappings and forgetting about the chocolate. But only someone wilfully ignorant would’ve done that? Well, people who started up the whole Facebook business are very clever. And they employed clever Facegeeks who run the site, develop applications and take care of facebooked people. Or so they say.

Legal stuff: Becoming the property of Facegeeks

Facebook is yet another step towards Huxley’s Brave New World. Once you sign up, your identity becomes a public commodity – and there are already plenty of articles on Facebook concerning themselves with this potential Big Brother dystopian approach to social networking. Facebook can sell your posts, photos, videos and updates to whoever, whenever they feel like it. Sure, you can delete your profile but it’s going to stay archived as long as Facegeeks want it to. From the moment you click the “Register” button you’re legally the property of Facegeeks.

In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what all the fuss is about, Facebook isn’t nickname-based – people sign up with their real names. I’m quite certain that most Facebook users haven’t read the Privacy Policy. But they should, because it’s more compelling than any novel. And far creepier than any gothic story, too. Let’s take a look.

Facebook: The little privacy policy of horrors

“When you update information, we usually keep a backup copy of the prior version for a reasonable period of time to enable reversion to the prior version of that information… You understand and acknowledge that, even after removal, copies of User Content may remain viewable in cached and archived pages or if other Users have copied or stored your User Content.”

What exactly is a reasonable period of time? Archived and cached information could be accessible for years! By the time you apply for a job, pics of drunken nights and crazy things you did with friends might still be floating about in Facebook’s archive. Employers actually often use Facebook to check their potential employees’ background.

“Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (e.g. photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalised experience.”

That’s just awesome, isn’t it? Facegeeks collecting information about me from “other sources” in order to provide me with a more personalised experience? No thanks, I’m quite happy to get along without more useful information… Just leave me alone!

“You post User Content (as defined in the Facebook Terms of Use) on the Site at your own risk. Although we allow you to set privacy options that limit access to your pages, please be aware that no security measures are perfect or impenetrable.”

Okay, all social networking sites include this in their Privacy Policy but the thing is, other social networking sites like Myspace or Bebo don’t store your full name and similar sensitive personal information.

“…Generally, you may opt out of such emails through the Notifications page, though Facebook reserves the right to send you notices about your account even if you opt out of all voluntary email notifications.”

Wait a minute. I can’t really opt out, can I? This is like saying “Yeah, you can tell us you don’t want to receive any notifications but if we decide we’d like to invade your inbox, there’s nothing you can do. Blahdy blahdy blah.”

“By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States.we may be required to disclose user information pursuant to lawful requests, such as subpoenas or court orders, or in compliance with applicable laws.Additionally, we may share account or other information when we believe it is necessary to comply with law, to protect our interests or property, to prevent fraud or other illegal activity perpetrated through the Facebook service or using the Facebook name, or to prevent imminent bodily harm. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, agents or government agencies.”

Now this one is a true gem. Yes, of course they’ll cooperate with the police and the government – that’s all fine and dandy. But they clearly state that they will protect their interests. Everything is processed in the USA and it may include sharing information with government agencies. The FBI is probably not out to get you, and the government can always get your personal details – but why make it easier for them? Also, Facebook is ideal for identity theft – you can get in trouble because of something you haven’t done.

I’m quite sure that Facegeeks would be quite happy to sell information to various marketing companies if they got paid for it. Advertising is already a big part of Facebook. Whenever you click on ads, Facebook collects information about what interests you and passes it on to firms who advertise so they get a better idea of their target audience. Advertising is what makes Facebook free, it’s what made Facebook flourish. You pay for it by being attacked by ads all the time you’re online, by helping companies to manipulate and focus on people who aren’t likely to resist the power of advertising.

Facebook Social stuff: The resplendence of OMGROFLWTFLMAO

Facebook sparked a new trend of status-whoring. People update their Facebook status every 30 minutes, as if everybody was interested in what they’re doing. I love my friends. I care about them. But honestly, I don’t want to be informed of their actions every single moment. That’s just sick. I don’t have to know whether they’re picking their nose at this precise moment or not, I’d rather they didn’t tell me. And they don’t need to bust their brain trying to show how popular, loveable and witty they are – I’ve already made that judgement for them myself. That’s why I’ve chosen them as a friend.

Then there’s the dreaded (or the celebrated, it depends) relationship status. My friend’s ex boyfriend is a FB master of suspense and status-whoring. He once changed his relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship”. Messages came flooding in. “Who is she?”, “How long have you been dating?”, “Awwww, that’s so cute!”, “I’m so happy for you!”. Nope, he didn’t spend his free time with his new girlfriend… He had to change his relationship status first to attract as much attention as possible. Apparently his girlfriend wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about all this either; they broke up a few weeks later and he got another chance to change the relationship status. I’m wondering why people even bothered to comment…

And this brings up another problem. Facebook is the epitome of egoism. It’s my profile, people will visit it to see my photos, post comments about my status and check my updates. Why would people meet up with friends for a chat when they can change their Facebook status to something attention-grabbing and wait for others to log in and comment? Well, perhaps I’m the weird one here but if my “friends” can’t be arsed to tell me the news in person, it can’t be anything important anyway….

“Meh, the only reason you don’t want to join Facebook is because you have no friends, HA!” Ow, you got me now, I don’t have a life. Because having less than 20 so-called friends is synonymous to being dead and everybody wants to take part in the feverish friend race. It might be nice to get in touch with classmates from primary school and childhood friends but people who really matter are already safely stored in my head and my address book. Those who aren’t there just aren’t that important. And if the friendship between me and all those long-forgotten people can be reduced to “hi how r u”, it’s not worth having. Facebook claims to connect its users with real people – look at the number of your Facebook friends. Can you name all of them? Would they know you’re one of the numbers on their list of friends? Would they even notice if you stopped updating your profile? Are people to whom only your virtual existence matters really worth knowing?

Besides, why do we all feel the need to be in touch with others 24/7? When you don’t hear from someone for a few weeks, isn’t it wonderful when you finally see each other again and exchange news? I don’t like the feeling of being accessible all the time. I think it could make people forget how much I mean to them.

I have absolutely no interest in sharing all the details of my daily life with others. I don’t need to do all sorts of things to remind my friends that I exist. I don’t want to be part of a statistics report of a large company. I don’t want a virtual version of myself. I don’t need two lives. I’m quite happy with one.