Facebook: internet’s evil empire

23 April 2010

I am sorely tempted to delete my Facebook account.

Begin rant

Facebook intends to overtake the web, and in a manner far more insidious and terrifying than any company has done or attempted so far. Naturally this is an exaggeration, but only slightly. I’m deeply concerned that Facebook knows too much about us already, and wants to know even more about us. As written repeatedly before, Facebook’s main asset is personal information that the users freely and willingly give, often without sufficient thought or care. It can reconstruct one’s life, by process of associating people with other people. Once information is handed over to Facebook, users are no longer in total control of the data.

Now, ‘socialization’ of the web is to be achieved by people ‘liking’ something. So it becomes a popularity contest without regard for quality. It is a landscape of anarchy. And a fragmented one too. One thing the internet has achieved was to open up the world, and make information and knowledge accessible to all who endeavour to look. It emancipated. It connected. What Facebook wants is a retrograde step to the barbarism of close-mindedness. By letting one’s browsing habits determined by friends and other Facebook users, the web will become narrower and narrower. Facebook users are atomized, yet sheepishly following the crowd. Facebook is a dark, sinister mechanism, vulnerable to abuse and manipulation. If the internet could be a tool of enlightenment, freeing oneself from one’s self-incurred immaturity, then Facebook is a tool of binding oneself back again to immaturity.

Facebook wants its users to be logged in, since that way it can collect as much information as possible about the users. It will track everything and link back to the person and his or her friends. To enable maximum information gathering, it tucks the log out function under the Account tab and probably a large number of people tick the box to be kept logged in. Facebook knowing too much about its users is bad enough, but the real problem relates to third-party applications using Facebook Platform. According to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, a developer or an operator will ‘only request data you need to operate your application’, but it remains murky what kind of control or audit Facebook conducts. Even murkier are the information given to the ‘pre-approved third-party websites and applications’.

I only retain a minimal presence on Facebook, and I will continue to do so, for the moment. But if things go even worse in my somewhat paranoid way, I will not hesitate to delete it.

End rant