Friday, August 17, 2012

Nationalize Facebook?

This article in Slate the most asinine thing I have ever seen (OK, OK, second most asinine. The most asinine was the Facebook page, “Libertarians for Obama).  The premise is that to protect our privacy the federal government that eavesdrops on phone conversations, tracks whereabouts using the GPS on our cell phones, doesn’t need a warrant to place tracking devices on our vehicles and monitors what we check out from the library should take over Facebook.  Absurd.

Translation: Facebook is successful and profitable, Facebook has outcompeted its competitors, Mark Zuckerberg has gotten rich off Facebook, and that is just not fair so the public should own it instead.

It isn’t really even about privacy as the article goes on to explain all the wonderful things government could do if it had access to our Facebook data, “Many academics are finding that big social network data sets can generate surprising and valuable information for addressing social problems—for instance, public health and national security. Researchers are working on ways to use social networking patterns to predict the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. We could even use Facebook data to analyze criminal networks in the United States or terrorist networks around the world. We'd want to be careful about the circumstances under which our security services had access to Facebook data…”  And, later in the article, “Facebook’s data harvesting could be used to improve public policy, yet scholars rarely find the company willing to collaborate on important research questions,” which sounds an awful lot like Facebook PROTECTING our privacy to me.

The bottom line is Facebook is not private.  It is a public forum on the internet.  Anything you post here, any data you put into your profile about yourself is not private.  It is no more private than what you say to friends at a party or shout across a public square.  If you want to keep something private, don’t put it on Facebook.  We all use Facebook voluntarily and can choose not to use it if we are concerned about the privacy of our data (I know many people who do not use it for that reason).

As someone who frequently posts things critical of the government, I for one would stop using it if the government took it over.  But, I suppose if the government took over Facebook there would also be an individual mandate to use it since we have determined that the government can force you to do anything as long as they do so by taxing you for not doing it.  Then Facebook could be just like the two way televisions in Oceania

No comments: