Cultural Imperialist

"Scathing Spats on Shallow Subjects"


Mon Aug 21




Facebook Eats The Internet

Image courtesy of Phawker

Facebook says "Privacy? What privacy?" And Cultural Imperialist heartily agrees. You don't own your privacy. In fact, you don't even have any privacy. And even if you did, you gave up your privacy rights the minute you were born. See how that works? See what I did there? Congratulations are in order. Facebook, you're our newest (and hardly weekly) Imperialist of the Week.

Facebook wants to eat the Internet, starting with your profile as an appetizer and all your friends as an aperitif, moving on to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live, and Twitter accounts for the main course, and finishing off with a breezy port and walnut glaze brownie. And why shouldn't it? It's been given the motivation by you, its users, to make the interwebs as easy and cheap as possible to use, and since you, the average user, can't be bothered to moderate your own security (let's face it, you're the same people still sending out chain-emails from "Bill Gates" and forwarding malware because you apparently don't know that "Click here!" equals instant Trojan death. But I digress.) Facebook has shouldered that responsibility.

And admirably so. Someone needs to step up. The internet is a scary place, but Facebook has made it a whole lot friendlier with its now-ubiquitous "Like" button. Note the many "Fan" pages (you may be reading this on Cultural Imperialist's Fan Page, how meta). Notice that when you have a profile, all your friends can see what you post, and if you don't change those privacy settings, they get to share your love with everyone in their network. Strangers of strangers of friends of you could be copying and disseminating the Facebook version of you around the globe. Isn't that a nice thing? Don't you want the opportunity to be famous, if only for one brief kiloparsec?

Facebook's frenemies are basically pissing themselves now because they didn't think of a way to own the internet first. Now that Zuckerberg has Bob Loblaw'd himself into a position where he can own the online version of you while simultaneously courting you to give more time and more content (the average Internet user spends more time on Facebook than on Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Microsoft, Wikipedia, and Amazon combined. Holy CRAP!), Facebook is primed to make itself the arbiter of all that is good and true about the Internet. And that's a lot of everything.

But the privacy thing is very simple. Many people are scared that Facebook not only doesn't care about your privacy, it is actively circumvrenting it. Here's the rub. If you're online, you've already lost the privacy game. You've given away your name, birthday, email address, and maybe phone number, bank account, and even photos to any number of corporate entities. That ToS you didn't read when you signed up? It says that in exchange for using the free service, the company that made that free service can do whatever the hell it wants with the information you freely give it, provided it doesn't harm you.

Facebook isn't the devil, and it isn't an angel. It's just a thing, a behemoth intent on using you because you are a consumer, and our open and free society dictates and encourages the natural parasitism of the creator and consumer. You are the cookie. Facebook is the blue monster. It is not evil; it's just big and hungry.

So quit your griping and hit that "Like" button. Because Facebook's eating, whether you like it or not.

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