Facebook's funny. In about five years it has transformed from a larval collection of collegiate address books to a network for anybody, anywhere to say just about anything. The changes in between have been subtle and blatant, but ever-present tweaks have been the status quo for the hate-the-term-but-what're-ya-gonna-do social network.
Instead, there is but one foolproof way to handle this: don't ever — EVER — put something online that you wouldn't want the whole world to know. Ever. End of story. (But not end of article.)
Blogger Kenneth Yeung has a refreshing analysis of how these websites just don't give a shit about privacy. Maybe they don't believe in it. Or possibly they consider online privacy to be negotiable. And you may disagree, but I don't believe in it either.
The Internet is not anyone's private playpen. It never has been, and it never was. Your friends have always been sharing your e-mails, your IMs, and your tweets to other people … perhaps even to those who can't fucking stand you. Breach of privacy! UNSUBSCRIBE FROM THE INTERNET!!1! (But your friend is still cool.)
So far I haven't read about any egregious invasion of privacy. I haven't heard about any users opting out of a program then still had their information disseminated to other companies. And I'm pretty sure no credit card numbers have been leaked to potential online flimflammers.
Instead, it sounds like Facebook has become the face, even the scapegoat, of what the perpetually-wired online user is thirsting to obtain: an unbridled ability to say anything on our minds without consequence. We sort of had this when we were jazzgurl83. (Or at least thought we did before we knew what IP addresses were.) We don't have this as Kimberley Swann, human employee.
If you need to immediately vent about a shitty day at work, it's called "you and an empty room." Or "you driving in your car alone." This works pretty well, I'm told. Also, OnStar doesn't harvest this information and sell it to other companies.
But while this practice of enraged soliloquies has been around since the first Cro-Magnon drama queen, perhaps Facebook also represents another part of the Internet we don't like: change. As mentioned in the opening paragraph (where most people already stopped reading this), it evolves daily — faster than us, actually. We may all remember a specific point in Facebook's history when it was great. The halcyon days of 2007, for example. And this is the case for all of our favorite websites.
But let me see if I understand this logic. Because a website has changed (without MY PERMISSION!) so it can better compete in industry and perhaps monetize itself, suddenly it has sold out and alienated its loyal fanbase. Instead of charging its users a direct fee. Would everyone like to see a website that hasn't changed in over a decade? Perhaps Yahoo! should have stayed the same since 1996.
Of course, general change is a different concept from changes in privacy agreements, but the two are related. But it all goes back to forces we wish we could control but never will. Other websites, other people, and both subsets continually using the term "social network."