Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Facebook follies

Now we all probably know the story of Facebook. If not then I suggest you have a read of “How Facebook is taking over our lives” to give you an idea of the impact that it is having and the speed at which it is growing. What many people don’t seem to appreciate is that we are surrendering our privacy to commercial entities like Facebook at an alarming rate.

 

Many people don’t understand that whatever they post on the Internet is generally searchable and available to anyone. A good example of this is “Facebook scam: Ferrari man’s true identity revealed”. In short a recent Facebook scam featured a man standing next to a Ferrari (as if you would drive an Enzo on the road!) claiming that if you followed his method you’d make enough money to own an Ferrari (an Enzo costs over US$ 1 million by the way). Now the interesting thing, as the article details, is that the picture of the man standing next to the Ferrari is actually someone who uploaded his holiday snaps to the Internet and had no idea they were being used in this way.

 

The moral of the story is that you should never upload content that includes ANY private information about yourself to the Internet. I also reckon that you should also specifically avoid photos of yourself or your family. Problem is, many people don’t see anything wrong with it and continue to do so, not appreciating that once it is up on the Internet you no longer have control over it. Would you offer that information to a stranger on the street? Probably not, so why are you offering on the Internet to billions of strangers?

 

Facebook is a commercial entity. Its sole purpose in life if to make money for shareholders. If it allows you to sign up for free where do you think it makes money? It does that by collected as much information about you and selling that. If you willing provide more information, it will sell that also. Don’t be fooled by claims otherwise, your information is valuable. If you don’t think so then someone else certainly does.

 

Don’t get me wrong, things like Facebook and Twitter have their place but you should stop and consider how much information you are giving away and what you get in return. Once you have given that information away chances are you’ll never get it back. So, at the very least, don’t upload a picture of you standing next to a really expensive car or you could be the face of the next Internet scam!