Why Facebook Privacy Settings Don’t Matter

I find it endlessly amusing how so many articles are written about Facebook and its cavalier lack of concern over privacy issues (case in point: Read Dan Costa’s column). A large community is up in arms over the fact that Facebook consistently changes the way it operates and constantly resets the privacy settings of the users to nil, as in NO PRIVACY. This amuses me because it seems as if the majority of Facebook users don’t even know about or care about the privacy settings. Once in a while some old lady is flabbergasted by the fact that anyone can write on her wall, sure. And once in a blue moon some teenage girl says she “didn’t know” her teachers could see her comments. All the while the users of Facebook are increasing by the millions as the complaints are increasing by the thousands, thus amounting to nothing of consequence. Now there is a movement to create an open-source version of the social network to address all these concerns, and it may or may not be successful, but it doesn’t matter since most users have so little regard for their own privacy. They’re too busy publishing humiliating pictures of themselves on Facebook, Flickr and elsewhere. It always seems to be a good idea at the time. And why do American continue to do these dumb things? It’s a unique reflection of the short-term thinking that plagues the culture. We always hear about this phenomenon regarding the activities of American corporations, which always seem to be thinking short-term to appease the investors. They do things quarter by quarter instead of thinking toward the long future.

Thinking ahead —a Thousand Years Often Americans are told to look at Asia. That’s how to do it! Think long-term. The Chinese think thousands of years down the road, but Americans cannot even comprehend that concept. We like concepts like “live for today!” and “live as if it’s your last day on earth.” So what if you post a picture of yourself tongue kissing someone’s ear while wearing face paint and holding a Bud Light, obviously plastered? Who expected a prospective employer to dredge up that old pic and change his mind about you? Oops. I’m constantly reminded of the early days of daily blog diaries, when dumb bloggers would profusely apologize for skipping a day of blogging. No matter that the blog was about a mostly banal life and what the cat was doing, or what they ate that day with the catch-all eponymous descriptor, “Yum!” You know, those people who have since moved on to Facebook or onto real lives.

Busted by Blogs
Every few weeks one of them would make a huge fuss in the “blogosphere” about how he got fired from his job because of something he wrote in his blog. One woman, working in some horrible cubicle environment, as I recall, wrote some of the most catty and mean descriptions of all the people in the office including the boss. She was stunned when the blog ended up on the boss’ computer and the guy fired her. A similar fate was meted out to the flight attendant who posted silly pictures of herself. One of my favorites happened when I was working at TechTV and some chipper new hire came in telling us how great it was working there. A cohort quickly found his blog or LiveJournal entry with him saying. “I just got hired at TechTV. This is the dumbest place I’ve ever worked. I’m going to quit as soon as I can” followed by an excoriation of the staff. What an idiot.
And yes, this is a function of short-term thinking as well as idiocy. He reckoned his message would go out to his few pals and that would be the end of it. So where does this sort of thinking come from? The American penchant for fear mongering. Scaring the public, as a whole, into thinking they are going to be killed any minute. I grew up during the duck-and-cover era, when a nuclear holocaust seemed imminent. People built fallout shelters. It has always been something. Now people are freaked out by a terrorist attack. We’ve been on Orange alert permanently! Why bother thinking ahead when the end is near! Well, the end hasn’t come, but it will for those who don’t consider the long-term effects of what they are doing online today. Advice: stop it!

Source of Information : PC Magazine July 2010


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