Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Social Networking: It's Your Privacy, It's Not Free!


Just a quick follow up post to my earlier one about the problems with Facebook hiding our updates from the newsfeed.

One recurring theme that I have come across in many forums and blogs is that Facebook, Twitter etc., are all free services, as we do not pay a flat monthly fee, or get charged a pound or a dollar whenever we sign in. Therefore, when it goes wrong, we should shut up and take it.

In one sense, that is true. In another, it is so wrong it's laughable.

Social media is inherently and potentially costly. We are providing these massive companies with a wealth of personal information in exchange for using their services. Although this is something that I have no real problems with. What I also don't take issue with is that Facebook then make money out of our personal data by charging marketers to target their advertising towards us. That's part of the deal - read the terms and conditions.

What I do have a problem with, however, is the assumption on some of our parts and their part that we have no say in any changes to privacy, or mistakes in their service, as we are not paying customers. WE ARE PAYING FACEBOOK - we have paid them with our name, location (just wait until they unleash their Foursquare-killing geo-tagging service at the end of this month), email address, likes and dislikes (spread even wider now with their new open graph 'like' buttons), and we have invited our friends to get involved too.

So, next time you have a problem with Facebook, don't be afraid to be a nag. Shout loudly, complain, blog, Twitter. Because you are a paying customer, and you deserve a better level of customer service! Don't be afraid to rock the boat to get postive results.

And before I retreat to my Threads-esque underground paranoia bunker, can I just say that I can guarantee: if a major record label tried this kind of sh*t, they'd be nailed to a cross.