2006 - 2008 Facebook changes my life:
When Charis was born in 2006 and I wanted to let everyone know she had arrived I was faced with two options, either phone around people, which I couldn't do as Charis was ill and we were stuck in the hospital for a week, or email. So I had to write out an email (twice as I accidently deleted it on the crap hospital computers), attach photos, make a list of all the appropriate people in my address book then finally send it. I then had to sign into Shona's email and do the same.
By contrast when Seren was born in 2008, I updated my Facebook status and uploaded the photos. Shona updated her status using her mobile. Within 3 hours of the birth everyone knew about it, could see photos, could talk about it, share their thoughts and messages etc.
It was during moments like this when I really came to appreciate Facebook. I could get my personal news to just about everyone I wanted to and only to them. I knew I had selected each of these people to be my friends and all of a sudden my friends and family felt much closer to me.
Fast Forward to November 2009.
By this time Facebook had changed. No longer did Facebook require me to accept friend requests from people who wanted to see information about me, they just made all my photos, groups, status updates, etc. open to anyone to see.
Yes, they told me that they were going to "give me more privacy controls" but when I clicked ok to this without reading the whole post properly (does anyone?) they changed all the of my privacy settings to "Everyone." Did this give me more control or did they actually take it away from me?
When I realised what had happened I went back and changed a lot of privacy settings as I only wanted to share my personal life with my friends, not the 2 billion people with internet access.
Why was Facebook manipulating me like this? When they understood that people were sharing their lives with friends and families they knew they could use that information to become a social search engine and to sell targeted advertising to their users. To do this Facebook needed as many people as possible into giving up and making public as much information about themselves as possible. Facebook weren't open and honest about this, they just tricked millions of us into making our closed networks open to all. I was no longer Facebook's customer, I was their product they were selling.
Fast Forward to last week.
Seren wanted a drink and asked me to get some juice from the cupboard. As she is only two and can't speak proper, she was asking me for "Black cunt daddy! Not orange, black cunt juice daddy!" I thought this was funny and posted it directly onto Facebook, not through Twitter like I usually do as I didn't want it on my website and broadcast to the whole world. It got a couple of "kids are funny" and "I was shocked until I worked it out" kind of comments until someone, who I didn't know, posted this:
C: Hey M, I don't expect to be reading garbage like this on C's web page. Tell your meat head friends to keep this jive to themselves. One more of this and I'm signing you off! Mr C.
What just happened? M had commented on my status update and because of the way M's, C's and my privacy settings were set, my status was show on C's wall. Her husband then read it, didn't get the joke, was shocked and posted that message telling me to keep it clean. This annoyed me abit as I had gone out of my way to keep the comment off my public Twitter feed and my website and it was still seen by someone who didn't know me well enough not to be offended.
When I went back to my privacy settings to rectify who could see and comment on my posts when I found a page there titled:
"What your friends can share about you.
Control what your friends can share about you when using applications and websites"
Websites? I knew that Facebook applications get to see all your data, that's why I don't use any, but websites? Since when do I share my Facebook info with other websites?
After a bit of research I found out that Facebook had launched it's "Open Graph" strategy which means other websites can embed widgets within their pages so Facebook users can "like" content, see which of their friends have visited the site and post the content back to their own Facebook page. At first glance this seems like a great idea until you realise that Facebook CAN NOW TRACK YOU WHERE EVER YOU GO ONLINE.
Did you know about this? Did Facebook inform you that when you are logged into Facebook they can now track you on other sites and can sell that information to other companies? Did you know that when one of your friends visits another website, that site can access your profile and any public information about you on facebook? Isn't this exactly what we were all campaigning against when it was the government doing it?
Even though social media consultancy is part of my job, I can't keep using and promoting a service I have so many ethical problems with.
Facebook is so useful, so brilliant, so well engineered and executed, so helpful and so pervasive but I'm sick of it.
I'm sick of running to keep up with a company who keeps moving the goal posts all the time.
I'm sick applications asking to know everything about me just to give me the result of a stupid quiz.
I'm sick of being Facebook's product, not their customer.
I'm sick of Facebook.
What do to? Simple. Delete my account. And I suggest you do too...
I'm sure we'll all keep in touch. If you want me, just google Nathan Rae.
Or you can email me using firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call me on 07891605962 or skype me at nathanrae or tweet me @nathanrae.
If you want to keep up to date with what I'm doing you can read my blog at www.nathanrae.co.uk/blog or just follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/nathanrae.
Anyway, it will take a while to sort a new forum and admins for the Kids Film Review Facebook group and a few other things but I'll be disapearing from your friends lists in about a week. You have until then to convince i'm doing the wrong thing.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about this so please email or post a comment on my blog if you have any comments or questions.
Ok, i'm sure most of you don't want to delete you facebook account, but please go through your privacy settings and make sure you are happy with them. If you don't want Facebook to track you on the web use Facebook in IE and do the rest of your browsing in Firefox.
For more info about what I've been talkintg about you may want to check out: