Facebook wants to turn you inside out.

This is a post I started about a month ago and had left sitting in the draft bin, but due to yesterday’s post and topic, I decided to dig it up and polish it…

Most people, unless you’ve grown up entirely in the Internet enabled world, think of “being social” as joining groups.  You play sports.  You have a book club.  You form a tabletop gaming group.  You go to a party.  You sit at a lunch table.  You go to the company picnic.  Your kids play at the same park.  And so on.  Being social involves joining people doing something.

When I first joined Facebook, it was all about joining groups.  Your college, your high school, your jobs both past and present.  Groups still exist on Facebook, but just barely.  When people post things in the groups I belong to it doesn’t show in the feed, in fact it doesn’t show anywhere unless I go look at my list of groups.  Groups are a thing of the past, now everyone are “friends”.

Facebook is all about getting all your “friends” together from every activity and dumping them all into one place.  Of course, people in general don’t really function that way, and it has caused issues for many folks as they have dived into the “social web”.  Work friends and other friends used to be separate groups, and with a lot of work on your part they still can be on Facebook, but by default they are all the same.  Facebook doesn’t want you talking about things in groups privately among your friends, they want you to put everything in your feed where everyone can see it (unless you’ve taken the time to protect your feed and group your friends).  Facebook wants to take your segregated group, integrate them with the whole and put them on a stage, and they want to put ads on the page in the column next to it.

Facebook, Real ID and other such efforts are slowly eroding privacy.  Is this a bad thing?  Not everyone cares, especially younger folks, but many of them haven’t run into an issue where something they said on Facebook or Twitter or some other forum has cost them a job yet.  Maybe they won’t.  Maybe by the time it matters for them, the people doing the hiring and firing won’t care.

I can see the draw, I really can.  I grew up watching Cheers on TV and singing alone with “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name” and the social web feels like that sometimes, it feels like this intimate group of people who you can talk to, who you can trust.  But can you?  Once you’ve racked up over a thousand “friends” on Facebook that includes former coworkers and employers, current ones, old friends from a decade ago, ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends, and all the other random people who’ve come into contact, can you really trust them all with that thought that just ran through your head, down your fingers and spilled out onto your keyboard?  Do you want that random thought to exist on the Internet forever?  I know I actually consider everything I put out there before I hit the publish button here.  I’ve scrapped entire posts because I didn’t feel comfortable with the content, and others I’ve hacked up and removed specifics to keep a level of separation.

What the hell am I getting at?  I don’t know… perhaps I’m just an old man yelling at the kids to get off of his lawn…

4 comments

  1. Michael says:

    I’ve refused friend requests on Facebook from current coworkers and only have one former coworker as a friend. I post on Twitter, Tumblr and my blog under an assumed name so that, on the rare occasions when I do post, I can do so without having to spend a great deal of energy worrying about whether or not it will come back to bite me in the butt.

    I’d love to be able to express myself, my thoughts, my views, my beliefs, without it being held against me at some point, by someone. As it stands, however, the only way to do that is from behind a curtain.

  2. Tesh says:

    My Facebook account is primarily for work contacts and possible networking if I need a new job. So, I treat it as such, with the occasional quirky humor piece or dire warning about the screwed up math in the economy, since that affects everyone.

    It’s a bare bones account, since I really don’t want a big footprint out there in the “social networking” space.

    I will never understand the appeal of the platform in general. It’s a tool for me, nothing more.

  3. Jason says:

    I would think that a LinkedIn account would work better for work contacts than Facebook, given the level of noise on Facebook.

    Personally, I go clean my Facebook account every couple weeks and de-authorize anything I’m not using. All my friends are in groups so I can control exactly what they see from me. I just wish I could set my default feed to one of my groups so that I don’t have to navigate to the feed that it important to me every time I go there.

  4. Tesh says:

    It would, if the guys I work with were on the LinkedIn service. 😉

    I’ve turned off almost everything on my Facebook account, and I have very little in the way of personal information up there. It’s really more of a stub for anyone who wants to get a hold of me. *shrug*

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