Combine Facebook's massive photo database with its new Timeline feature -- the profile redesign that lists life events such as births, graduations, and weddings -- and Facebook has pretty much become the world's biggest online scrapbook. Today Facebook is a living breathing genealogy of our family and friends, but could become where people turn to find links to distant relatives.
6. Facebook Rules Our "Private" Data
Facebook controls our privacy. I know what you're thinking -- we control our privacy, to a certain extent...don't we? Well, yes, but many of us have given almost complete control of that privacy over to Facebook.
Sure, I can adjust my Facebook settings so that only my friends can see what I write on my Facebook wall, or only my family can see my date of birth, hometown, and phone number. But I did put all of those things on Facebook to begin with -- and my "privacy" hinges on Facebook's "promise" that it will protect that privacy. Had I not put any of those revealing details about my life on Facebook, I would retain control over my privacy.
So what does that mean? It doesn't mean that Facebook is suddenly going to expose your private data to the public -- because that would be stupid. What it means is that Facebook, when it does expose your data (and it will -- it's a social networking site, and social networking, by definition, can only exist if people share things -- willingly or not), will do so in a controlled manner, and likely for profit. For example, whenever you "Like" something on the web, you give Facebook explicit permission to expose your data to that company, or product, or brand, and it's only a matter of time before Facebook figures out how to utilize such exposure to its maximum advantage.
7. Darth Facebook: The Internet's Biggest Scapegoat
The darker side of Facebook and social networking: alienation. In the book "Alone Together," author and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Sherry Turkle notes that "friending" people on Facebook has replaced "friending" people in real life. Turkle argues that technology causes people to disengage from real people and prioritize convenience over real human emotions.
In other words, thanks to Facebook and other technologies (such as texting, e-mail, Skype, and role-playing games), people no longer feel the need to communicate in a more typical human fashion -- talking to each other, either on the phone or in real life. Turkle interviewed hundreds of children and adults about technology and discovered that many adolescents disliked using the phone because such conversations were revealing and "prying." One adolescent said that "When you talk on the phone, you don't really think about what you're saying as much as in a text. On the telephone, too much might show."
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