Facebook’s Data Mining

If a church or government were doing these things, it would feel authoritarian, but when technologists are the culprits, we seem hip, fresh, and inventive. People will accept ideas presented in technological form that would be abhorrent in any other form. It is utterly strange to hear my many old friends in the world of digital culture claim to be the true sons of the Renaissance without realizing that using computers to reduce individual expression is a primitive, retrograde activity, no matter how sophisticated your tools are.” ~ Jaron LanierYou are Not a Gadget

facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

I think Facebook might, on some deeply hidden level, actually be a bit dodgy. Thinking about human nature, there is at least the possibility of some truly slimy values driving the development and changes to this social media behemoth.


Facebook for me, fulfils exactly what it’s purported purpose is ~ to keep me connected with my family half a world away. That’s all I expect it to do. So on the whole, FB does an exceptional job in this role.

I don’t expect Fb or it’s platform, ideals, or agenda to become my social life. I don’t expect Fb to replace my face-to-face friendships, my Friday Social Circle, or the opportunities I have to be in the actual presence of my daughters, grandsons, family, or friends. I don’t “friend” people I don’t know because my definition of friendship is much deeper than simply having common likes or dislikes. I don’t post things I wouldn’t want my grandsons to see in 30 years. I don’t talk about things I shouldn’t, I keep a boundary between my personal and professional lives, and I don’t forget that what people post/write/picture of themselves is generally their idea of the “good parts version.”

Lastly, I stay on top of privacy settings, simply because to me, keeping my personal life personal is a no-brainer.  ‘Personal’ happens along a continuum ~ my idea of personal is much, much broader than Bill’s, and our respective pages reflect this difference. This aspect (privacy) is no different than turning my back to the rude eavesdropper at the next table in the local coffee shop. I’m not going to leave, but I’m not going to share willingly, either.

If Fb is data mining (and why wouldn’t they? It’s not a charity endeavour) then whatever information they get from my likes and dislikes, web surfing, etc., is going into the pool with the millions of others who have similar tastes as me. If I’m then susceptible to the annoying ads that have now become part of my news feed, that would be my problem – not Mark Zuckerberg‘s.

In all likelihood, Fb will become more and more commercial, and if/when it gets to the point where the annoyance far outweighs the value gained in maintaining contact with distant loved ones, I’ll look for a smaller, less hyped app. There will definitely be some, and when I find what I’m looking for, me and my friends will migrate en masse and wave goodbye to Fb.

In the meantime, I take the suggestions about security seriously. Take a moment to read through the article below and make sure you’ve done what you need to do to protect yourself.

How Facebook Exploits Your Private Information | LinkedIn.

2 Comments on “Facebook’s Data Mining

  1. People like me don’t like others, especially others I don’t know, knowing stuff about me. Back to Johari windows and Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘known knowns’. The problem lies, I think, with the fact that seemingly unconnected events, posts, interactions, or what you will creates a profile which in the wrong hands could be mercilessly exploited. How long, i wonder, will it be before a bank loan is declined on the basis of a Facebook profile. I’ve started locking everything down – Ghostery works quite well – in an attempt to maintain control of a digital life which has a tendency for self-exploitation

    • I think there’s some truth in the concerns, but I also think that it will always be along a continuum from Sanguine to Melancholic. I’m somewhere in the middle.

      I’ll have a look at Ghostery – I’m less concerned but not reckless. Might be just what I need.

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