Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Off Topic: Why I kissed Facebook Goodbye

In the spring of 2006, I created my facebook account.  In May of 2012, I shut it down.  Why? Lots of reasons.  Mark Zuckerberg created an empire, that much is certain.  His little networking tool for keeping in touch with his classmates bloomed into a multi-billion dollar juggernaut, and finally went public this year.  Perhaps that's part of the problem.  The new facebook doesn't match the values and principles of the old, and it's slowly killing it from inside.

[Editor's note: this is the first of the off topic rants I mentioned in my "One Year Later" post.  While I could easily include gaming topics, I'm going to avoid that as much as possible during this rant.  I have enough material as it is...]
Within the past six months, there have been numerous attacks on the civil liberties of "netizens."  These came to a head with SOPA and PIPA in January.  Since then, ACTA has been drafted in Europe, and is scheduled to come to a vote with numerous nations already pledging to vote no on it.  Currently, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, is making its rounds through congress.  It has passed the House, where it originated, but is currently in committee in the Senate.  CISPA is written with the intent to make it easier to share intelligence between ISPs and the government.  This is fine.  But it's what's also written into the bill that worries me.  CISPA would effectively allow warrantless monitoring of network traffic.


Never mind the fact that CISPA, if passed, would get struck down over violations of the 4th amendment. Facebook supported it.  They also supported SOPA and PIPA, which does not sit well with me at all.  I simply cannot sit idly by and let this pass without my input.  I do not approve of censorship.

When facebook went public, some analysts batted an eye at it.  How would facebook bring its shareholders a profit?  Sure, they advertize, but that's not going to give the returns it needs to keep the shareholders happy.  What do they do? MOAR ADS!!!  That always works!  Except when they're downright creepy.

And you thought conservatives got up in arms over GoDaddy...
Part of the problem that facebook runs into is that Zuckerberg and company have access to more personal information than anyone else on the planet.  What's more, people give them this information, freely!  Facebook probably knows more about you than you know yourself.  The ads on the side of the website are very, very personal.  They're meant to be for things you'd be interested in.  Now, this can work.  Look at Hulu's ad system.  If you're a registered user, responding to ads you like and dislike will give you more ads like it.  After watching a handful of shows and movies on Hulu, all I get are ads for Geico and Reese's, amongst others.  And for the ones that aren't from those companies? The ads are the "funny to watch" type of ads.  I don't see anything about botox or ED or any other bullshit.  Facebook doesn't quite have that art worked out.  They know about what you'd want to buy, but you haven't told them that you're okay with them advertizing to you.  So they let condom companies send creepy friend invites from your future child.  When was that a good idea?

Now, don't get me wrong.  I loved having my facebook account.  It was an easy way to keep in touch with friends, catch up with classmates from high school, and plan events.  I had over 1,000 friends when I shut down my account.  All but a handful were people I had met in person.  I've seen a lot of the major changes to facebook.  I saw the advent of the global groups, the News Feed, the day Facebook went public for anyone to join, and the Christmas shopping fiasco.  I've seen the good and the bad that can come out of using facebook.  But what they have done over the past year just doesn't sit with me.  Yes, my jimmies are rustled. Yes, I mad.

 Also, as a reminder, submit your questions for Treasure Bin's first Ask Me Anything, coming August 1.

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