Mike Wehner for The Kernel:
We spend our digital lives fiercely guarding even the smallest bits of our personal information from anyone who might want to use it for ill. Any time a company has even the most modest of security breaches, we wring our hands over the thought of our addresses and phone numbers sitting in the hands of a nameless, faceless threat, and yet I and millions of others have gleefully handed over all that and much, much more, without fully realizing the potential implications.
Using even a fraction of the information Facebook has about me and other users, an extremely detailed image of our habits, movements, and personalities can be drawn. It’s a gold mine for marketers and hackers alike.
I find Facebook a fascinating subject of study. This time last year, I submitted my final piece of work at university — a 10,000 word dissertation on Facebook, advertising and privacy. In it, I discussed the dichotomy between the company's sharing-as-positive rhetoric and how it simultaneously mystifies the ways in which it stands to benefit economically from any and all information shared.
Private lives become commodities and personal identities are fed to the market yet we're either unaware of, or apathetic towards, the whole process. Or perhaps Facebook has too much of a grip on how we now socialize and communicate with each other that essentially we have no choice.
As Mike sums up in his post after digging into what Facebook knows about him:
Of course, even this isn’t as detailed a picture as Facebook could paint of me if it wanted to—and given that the site earns revenue from highly targeted advertising, it presumably does. Facebook also has hundreds of photos, comments, updates, rants, and a rich collection of my opinions.
And yet, every scrap of that information I’ve willfully handed over—to a company I don’t entirely trust. Facebook didn’t force me to give it all of these details, but I’ve done it because, for me anyway, that’s the cost of having an online social life.
If you find Facebook anywhere near as fascinating as I do, check out the rest of this week's issue of The Kernel.
Source: The Kernel