I started writing a post on Facebook’s privacy issues the other day but I never really finished it. I decided to give up because I wasn’t sure I could put into words exactly what I wanted to say. I just posted the article privately so it won’t show up in my feed but you can read it here. It actually touches on what I’m about to say here and what I think Facebook has again missed the mark with in their attempt to clarify their privacy controls.
What I find disturbing about Facebook is the fact that it has basically turned into one large focus group. The problem is, if you’ve ever been on a focus group, not only are you obviously well aware that you’re on a focus group and that your thoughts and ideas are going to be used for marketing purposes, you’re actually financially compensated for your time as well as your point of view.
For me, that’s where Facebook misses the mark and makes me feel a little dirty by going there. Don’t take my word for it, check out their new, revised explanation of your facebook privacy:
We never share your personal information with advertisers. This includes information on your profile that you’ve made available to everyone. Advertisers may target ads to people according to their interests, age group, geographic location and gender, but they receive only anonymous data reports.
In one breath they’re saying they don’t share my personal information with advertisers and in the very next sentence they go on to list all of my personal information they share with advertisers. I don’t know if Facebook is really that stupid or of they really believe that we’re that stupid to fall for that nonsensical doublespeak.
Just because you’re not sharing my name and phone number with advertisers doesn’t give you the right to say that you “never share my personal information with advertisers” when you obviously do. Guess what, my “interests, age group, geographic location and gender” are all part of my personal information whether it’s given out anonymously or not.
That’s what makes this whole Facebook privacy issue so hard to swallow. On one hand Facebook is trying to take the high road by saying they’re not giving out any personal information, while on the other hand they’re running Facebook as a giant focus group and you’re the rat in the cage so to speak and Facebook plans to make as many dollars off of that as they can.
You can’t have it both ways, either you stop monetizing our habits and patterns and personal information or you be more up front that Facebook is a giant testing ground for corporations to use as much of your information as possible to set up marketing strategies for their products.