How many times have you read “Facebook” and “privacy” in the same sentence? It’s not just me, right? So what exactly is stoking this anxiety?
For decades, I have been bristling (and acquiescing) to being asked for personal information at every turn. Doctor’s offices, insurance companies, banks, jobs; you name it. They all want one thing from me; my personal information. Identifying numbers and dates have been flying around unprotected forever. There was a time when college identification cards were emblazoned with the student’s social security number. Personal checks often had the account holder’s driver’s license number printed on the front (to avoid that pesky step of a cashier copying down a customer’s most identifying number at each purchase.) It was routine in many high schools and colleges to post test results in hallways with “only” the identifier of a social security number.
So what is it exactly that makes some people feel stalked by Facebook? To establish an account you need to provide a name and an email. That’s about it. There’s no financial information and certainly no call for any identifying numbers. You may choose to provide your birth date, but you needn’t. I can only assume (and yes I am aware of how dangerous that can be) that the perceived invasion of privacy centers around the actual behavior while on Facebook. All those “Like” buttons and photo sharing may result in some huge database of T.M.I.? And then what? Since data collection (of such mundane points) could only be useful from a marketing standpoint, is it a fear of adverts? I don’t know about anyone else, but my (real) mailbox and email inbox have been brimming with adverts (tailored just for me!) for about twenty years. My reactions range from annoyance, to hurt pride (“really, teeth whitening offers?”) to grabbing my coat and going shopping (hey, sometimes they do get it just right.)
To be clear, I am not a lover of pop-up ads or commercials (shout out for the DVR, you beautiful little genius, you!!) but like death and taxes, they’re going to happen no matter what. Close the pop-up box, delete the message, avert your eyes. Facebook is free, and free costs. Think of the adverts as a pledge drive.
But then again, we know what happens when one assumes.