Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hello Facebook users everywhere

I use Facebook. You can use it, or not, as you please. A Guardian columnist recommends you don't. Some reactions.

- Whilst I would naturally caution against people putting details of their sex lives, family, date of birth etc. on any web page, there are fewer potentially revealing personal details about me on Facebook than there are on Inland Revenue CDs. Or the Amazon website. Or Google, for that matter - do you know how much of your web history they are tracking?!

- Whilst I would naturally prefer the people who come up with useful internet stuff to be concerned about saving the planet rather than making zillions of dollars, the fact is that the people who are concerned about saving the planet are generally saving the planet rather than making zillions of dollars. On the other hand, there is a significant tendency for people to make their zillions and then throw a few billions back in to save the planet in a few years' time, once they realise that they can only sail one luxury yacht or fly one corporate jet at once.

- "1. We will advertise at you." The adverts in Facebook are far less intrusive, at least at the moment, than those on Myspace (which is a Microsoft production, isn't it?). It is an unfortunate fact of life that adverts are part of the scenery now. But I haven't stopped watching commercial television because there are adverts. At least, not on principle - only because it is rubbish. I haven't stopped going to see films because of the ads or the product placement. I haven't stopped reading newspapers like The Guardian. And at least the new media offer some hope that the adverts I am bombarded with may be relevant to me.

- "3. Anyone can glance at your intimate confessions." So don't confess them. Doh!

- "5. Opting out doesn't mean opting out." - Facebook can send you notices about your account even if you opt out of all email notification. Oh, dear! Well, if the worst came to the worst, tag the sender as "Spam".

- "6. The CIA may look at the site when they feel like it." Dude, do you know how much information the CIA can get about you without referring to Facebook? Do you know what's in your biometric passport? Do you know what powers the Patriot Act gave the US government? Do you know what the US government has to know about you before you can even get into the country?

The socialist nirvana didn't work. You may not like that, but you have to come to terms with living in a capitalist world. At least dissent from capitalism is permitted.

And another thing. The Guardian Unlimited page that I was reading seemed to be taking an unseemly amount of processing power whilst it was being displayed. I wonder why that was? Let's have a look....

Oh. It's adverts for Intel.