Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Facebook Is Big Brother

An excerpt from a fascinating editorial appearing in the Chicago Tribune:
Rolling out now, a new "Timeline" format promises to document the entire history of our lives, or as much of it as we're willing to share — and we generally share too much. The look of Facebook is about to change, and our profiles will turn into slick digital scrapbooks. "It's your life," proclaimed Zuckerberg from the stage of Facebook's annual f8 developers conference, where he flashed tantalizing details of his own life ("first road trip with my girlfriend!") to wow the crowd — and some 80,000 people watching on a live stream.

The Timeline will likely appeal to the narcissist in most of us, but it's another new feature that marks the real sobering crossroads. As you provide all of your Timeline life data, new "Open Graph" apps, Zuckerberg said, will expand the notion of sharing for a "frictionless user experience."

... in the very near Facebook future, much of what you do online — listen to music, watch videos, read news stories — will be available directly through Facebook. One-stop shopping, or listening or viewing. That's convenient. But Facebook, mostly through your "likes" — and with its growing list of partners, including Netflix, Spotify and The Washington Post — will track all of your shopping, listening and viewing and identify patterns so that it can suggest more things to buy, listen to or view.

Then, because this is a social network, all of your shopping, listening and viewing will be announced immediately to your friends.

Swept up by the feel-good effects of "friends" and "like" buttons, 750 million of us have unwittingly allowed a business model that relies on our giving away information and then celebrating the "free" access we have to it.

The things we surrender in the name of convenience...

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