In fear of Facebook

facebookHaving spent most of my career* in marketing I was fascinated when I first joined facebook, about 12 months ago now. I was simply blown away by the amount of marketing information the owners of facebook held. It’s pretty difficult to know how many people are now registered, but with howies now producing t-shirts which say “NO I AM NOT ON F*!#ing FACEBOOK” we can guess the numbers are pretty high.

Get me straight, I am not worried about facebook in the way a number of other luddites have been, I don’t particularly worry about

a. the demise of blogging

b. the time I might/might not waste on facebook

c. oppression of non-members

What concerns me more (and is an ongoing concern in many areas of public life) is when too much power is held in one place.

Let me explain… when I worked in Marketing, the idea that I could so easily find the date of birth, gender, relationship status, personal tastes, educational achievements, workplace, political and religious views of my customers, was just a dream come true, then to know the same details of their friends, was just too incredible to be real.

Of course I’m not suggesting this information is given away at the individual level, but at a macro level this kind of information would enable me to create products, offers and propositions and develop new markets. Again, I am not particularly averse to this… … but what I am struggling with is some of the bedfellows of facebook, may not have such pedestrian intentions.

Perhaps the bigger irony is that Facebook is opensource. Opensource was once hailed as one answer to dispersing power and the reducing the ability to extort.

*This makes it sound intentionally planned and meticulously managed… which is really quite comic.

ADDITION: See this interesting article by Tom Hodgkinson Editor of The Idler – this is much better stuff than my rather vacant ramblings… makes you want to pull out of Facebook altogther.. in fact I might start a group!

About this entry