2010: the year you can’t avoid news on facebook and privacy

This post is just a small collection of related thoughts, mostly pulled from Twitter posts. I don’t consider Twitter something to re-reference later on, and a poor choice to save thoughts. Much of this is inspired by recent media-whoring about Facebook and privacy issues. A recent XKCD comic illustrates an aspect of my feelings about the subject.

I have a long-standing distrust of people and corporations in general, especially public companies. This is pretty much wrapped up in one of the more dangerous of the seven deadly sins: Greed. I turned away from Yahoo when they went public and started focusing more on money than on users. The same goes for my feelings on Google. Social networking is pretty much in the same boat.

social networks are the leftovers from the dotcom boom; the ones that got users (the first step). But they’re no more successful, yet.

The dotcom boom came with lots of interesting ideas, but busted when they were exposed to not be very viable as a business, and in many cases simply didn’t get enough eyeballs on their ideas (grocery deliver service? awesome! but not scaled up enough). There is still a latent boom-bust situation going on for the past 10 years in the form of social networking. Social networks and other “social” playgrounds online have garnered enough eyeballs (or clicks, hits, attention, whathaveyou) to survive despite having business models that are as shaky as anything from the actual dotcom boom. Sure, some of them can probably make money, but they certainly have to be careful to do so without killing themselves by driving away their users. How many people think Hulu or YouTube will still be relevant if they charge subscriptions? Or news sites?

(Aside: It’s funny how important these services have become to the Internet masses; how deeply they will defend them, but how detested they become when money is requested. Some may call users fickle. Some may say this is the essence of competition, since someone will always host things for free. But does that mean large centralized social networks are inviable and only smaller, self-sustaining, splintered groups can thrive? I’m sure there are parallels to be drawn with music, movie, and software pirating…)

Z[uckerberg] is doing web startups wrong. You make it free, get popular, get money, then sellout b4 privacy and a biz plan blow [you] up.

This is my opinion. If you can’t be viable in the long-term without lots of soul-searching and probably stepping on your own users, you’re probably better off building up your value and getting out while its high. Kinda like how Kevin Rose probably should have unloaded Digg.com. Or MySpace unloaded, or YouTube. If you found a company or site, get your user base huge, get your value up…you’re probably better off cashing out before it cashes you out. Zuckerberg should have gotten out by now before the house of cards started wobbling.

yes, zuckerberg, there is a simpler way to control your info. stop trying to weasel it out of people to support your business model.

This is part of why I distrust public companies, or companies that are looking (maybe desparately) for profit: They will do whatever they can get away with. No Facebook user should be surprised about Facebook privacy issues, or how Facebook tries to weasel around the issues and keep their access into your life while trying to make it look like they’re helping your privacy. They’re not. How else do you think they’re making money? Same goes for Google with searches and everything else they try to do. Invading your privacy is their business model. This has always been a business model, only these days we have very automated and highly technical and highly hidden ways of being victimized by it (networked appliances reporting back to motherships, what programs you watch, sites that index and analyze your information, search logs, tracking cookies, spyware, and so on…)

I dislike someone who complains about privacy when they dig or have dug themselves deeper into something like Facebook (either it’s important enough for you to do something about it, or it’s not important enough for it to chew up your energy and time to worry about). Or complain about privacy when they’re the damned owner of the damned site. Privacy is not hard. The hard part is maintaining the illusion of privacy while trying to maximize your penetration of it. (Kinda like getting that bar slut drunk…)