People don’t think when they put things online anymore. Maybe this is partially the fault of Facebook, who boasts 400+ million users, the vast majority of them who’ve never had a public presence prior to Facebook, but I still can’t help but roll my eyes when I see one privacy complaint after another when if people truly cared about this information, they wouldn’t be putting it on their Facebook profile in the first place…

Case in point – it boggles my mind to see how many of my friends and family have their cell phone numbers on their Facebook profile, or even their home address. Now for me, I don’t care if any random stranger knows that I like Legos or Jimmy Buffett, but the numbers to call me or even show up on my doorstep? I’d certainly prefer that those aren’t made public, so I don’t post them online. I do make my e-mail address public, mainly because it’s already posted on all of my websites anyways, and I guess I just always figured if somebody really wanted to call me over the phone, they can ask me for my number via e-mail if they don’t already have it.

Maybe it’s a problem with Facebook being overly ambitious because it’s very clear that they don’t want to be one stop on the Information Superhighway – they want to be the stop on the Information Superhighway, and thus especially with their latest move with Facebook Connects, they’d love to have ties in pretty much everything you do online, from being your photo album, your address book, your e-mail and chat conduit, and your place to meet and relate with friends online. And while a lot of that may sound great to users, the problem is that it’s almost like this is a new subset of people who don’t even realize what they should and shouldn’t be sharing online anymore.

And I know it sounds cold, but frankly I just don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for that.

Really, whose responsibility should it be to control your personal informationYOU or this giant corporation that’s trying to make a profit? I know that it’s popular to blame Facebook because don’t get me wrong – they have made some really stupid moves, especially with toggling their privacy settings on and off – but ultimately Facebook can’t share something against your will if you don’t give it to them to share in the first place.

If you look at my Facebook profile, it’s completely public because honestly, that’s my perspective of the Internet. I’m not a fan of walled gardens, so anyone who wants to see my information is more than welcome. But again, I’m very careful about what I post – I don’t have my most intimate of contact information, I don’t post questionable photos of my friends and family, and I don’t put comments on my wall that might get me into trouble later. So from that perspective, I don’t really care what Facebook does with its privacy settings because I don’t think that they’re necessary.

Sure, they’re necessary if you want to use Facebook as a private platform for communicating with a specific group of friends, but then again, I’m not so sure that I’d trust a free application from a for-profit company to do something like that, knowing that their business model is based on putting your personal information to use for them! Facebook is first and foremost a corporation trying to please its investors, and even though it’s also proven to be a great tool for communicating with others, make no mistake – their loyalty is to their shareholders because they’re the ones that keep them in business. At best, you’re one of a mass population that helps them sell ads, but even then, if you’re super-strict about keeping your privacy settings locked down, you’re probably not doing much to keep them afloat, so why should they care about what you want?

(to be continued…)

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