Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Today I’ve been thinking about Facebook, partly inspired by this piece by 8 Gram Gorilla. Gordon asserts that “Facebook “[Facebook is] a for-profit company that sells emotion, memories and relationships and the more we feed it, the more dangerous it becomes.” Essentially, Facebook makes money by selling, well, me. They sell the single most valuable thing I have, my attention, to the highest bidder. Shouldn’t I have some control over that? (And I don’t mean “Facebook Privacy” kind of control, I mean real control.) Is it fair that Facebook gets paid by luring me (and stalking me in a way… like) around the internet?

Of course, all paranoid ideas about privacy aside, there is a potential upside although I haven’t really seen it yet. Facebook, (or twitter or Google or …) already knows a lot about me, including what I’m really interested in. They should be able to hyper target advertising to what I’m REALLY interested in. I’d be more than happy to see ads for Sounds Online or 8dio come through. And I think about how unhappy I am to receive yet another Uline catalog in the mail. (They’re the AOL mailer of the 2000s). Or even worse, retirement and senior offers for Betsy. (Those really bug me because they’re based solely on the fact that she’s a widow. It’s the moral equivalent of lawyer ambulance chasing.)

The paranoid me definitely feels resistance to Facebook because I know they’re just selling me. But ultimately I’m an optimist, and I’m hopeful that as the information age progresses, marketing will actually become somewhat useful… or at least less annoying.

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