Oh, just what the Doctor has ordered: more junk food coming your way, left and right, from the social network that’s taking over the Internet: Facebook. McDonald’s will be the first advertiser taking advantage of Facebook’s soon-t0-be-releasing location feature.
The first reaction from most is this will kill leading location-based services: Hey Foursquare, Time To Close That Round Of Funding Before Facebook Chops Off Your Head. Yes, probably true, but now I am more worried about Facebook users – all of us – then businesses, and not just as a defender of healthier diets. Greasy or not, it’s not the ads that worry my, it’s yet another level of thoughtless surrender we’ll soon be committing: broadcasting our location every step of the way.
Yes, I realize there may be social benefits from bumping into friends via Foursquare Facebook, but have you really considered the danger of letting the world know where you are every step of the way? While you think about it, also consider just whose hands you leave all that data in: not exactly the champions of privacy.
The Relationship Between Facebook and Privacy: It’s Really Complicated says Mathew Ingram @ GigaOM this morning, and I strongly disagree. There is nothing complicated about it. Facebook does not give a *** about privacy: it’s a concept CEO Mark Zuckerberg finds obsolete, simply does not believe in at all. Now, in reality, even Facebook caves in to demands of privacy, but they are either careless or incompetent, or both, plugging one security hole after another.
Three strikes and you’re out – I guess Facebook is exempt from that law, now that they are becoming the New Internet.
But people are actually worried about privacy implications to consider quitting Facebook entirely: 10 Reasons To Delete Your Facebook Account. It’s a post worth reading in full, here are just the headings:
10. Facebook’s Terms Of Service are completely one-sided
9. Facebook’s CEO has a documented history of unethical behavior
8. Facebook has flat out declared war on privacy.
7. Facebook is pulling a classic bait-and-switch
6. Facebook is a bully
5. Even your private data is shared with applications (you are no longer trusting Facebook, but the Facebook ecosystem).
4. Facebook is not technically competent enough to be trusted.
3. Facebook makes it incredibly difficult to truly delete your account.
2. Facebook doesn’t (really) support the Open Web.
1. The Facebook application itself sucks.
I must admit for all my grumpiness I have not deleted my account, and I likely will not (not that it would be easy ). I resisted joining Facebook in the first place, was probably a year or so late, and even when I joined, I created a separate email account just for FB, and disallowed saving any Facebook cookies (remember Beacon? ). But resistance became just too inconvenient… so now I am in. That said I am not particularly active on Facebook, hardly maintain my profile and generally my presence there is a mess (this is where my marketing friends can jump in chastizing me for the lost opportunity). I’m only sticking around because Facebook has proven to be too pervasive, it is everywhere and (almost) everyone is on it. So yes, it is great to find long-lost friends and even discover some new ones. But that’s all for me, and I seriously suggest you all reconsider the level of your presence.
And even if you are very disciplined in your Facebook usage (are you?) read #5 above again. Just yesterday I was setting up my shiny new Android phone: I decided to enable location information, for the benefit of Google Maps and other really useful services. But… but..but … I am also tweeting and communicating in a zillion other ways from that same device, and although I will try to be careful about reviewing the permissions of every single app, it’s likely I will slip sooner or later.
So think about this: in this API-driven intertwined ecosystem of mobile and web services, just how certain can you be that Facebook (and others) won’t get information you never intend to give them in the first place, no matter how careful (you think) you are?