To all my Facebook Friends:
Thanks for including me in all the new Facebook apps; Iím really flattered that you would think of me. I really wish that you would just email me instead, though. These new apps and games are not things I open or would ever participate. I donít think playing these games is in anyoneís best interests.
As soon as I saw the questions about my friends that Facebook wants me to answer I got a little concerned. Asking people to share sensitive information about the sex lives, integrity and drug/drinking habits of people they know is awfully creepy in the Internet Age. Google your own name and you will see that what you put on the net never leaves.
Care to speculate on why Facebook is asking specific questions about whether your friend would have a one night stand and then call in sick to work? Have any concern about what they are doing with that information?
Here is a hint Ė there are a lot more people looking for work than there are jobs, and because of the endless extensions of unemployment insurance it is more expensive than ever to hire traditional employees. Businesses donít want to hire, and if they do they want the very best employees. Facebook is gathering information that employers would love to have, and they are developing software applications to mine it out of the huge databases they have built.
With off the shelf software and a little knowledge of statistics, social networking analysis and Python programming just about anyone can find out what your friends have to say about your personal habits Ė even though they might not really know anything for sure. Just Google NodeXL and youíll see what I mean. This is an add-on for Excel that is already configured to download information from any Facebook page for which you have a password. Of course, a little programming opens up a lot more pages than just the ones for which you have a password.
I donít know how easy it is for someone outside Facebook to access all the data the apps asking for personal information have gathered, but there is a company that seems to have an agreement with Facebook Ė and employers Ė to do just that. Check it out:
And donít think Iím the only person to have second thoughts about Facebook. It seems that Facebook is losing users, first in Europe and now in North America. The reasons arenít fully understood yet, but one of the suspects is ongoing issues concerning privacy.
Facebook must find itself in a difficult situation. It is getting ready to go public so it wants to cast itself in a favorable light for investors. That means it has to give the impression that it will make many more tons of money in the future than it has in the past. To do that it has to convince business that it will be able to produce a lot of valuable information. What better way than to aggregate their usersí opinions about the quality of their friends as employees?
So Iím pretty much done with Facebook. Iíll keep my profile up for a while at least, and I get email notifications when anyone sends me a message through Facebook, but thatís about it.
Please, old friends, send me an old fashioned email! My address is easy Ė if you know my name you know my email address -- email@example.com. I really want to hear from you.