Facebook has been under fire the last few weeks. The charge: “Invasion of privacy.” To summarize the stick up Mark Zuckerbergs ass, Facebooks’ service Beacon sends information gathered about Facebook subscribers, to other Facebook subscribers automatically. Doesn’t sound so bad? Well, lets imagine that the information was about the leather whip and catwoman suit you bought on Ebay or the Anger Management class you frequent each week. Is that really something you want your friends and family finding out about? Granted the examples used are fictional, but the essence of the service remains the same-: It is information that you may or may not want released to the public, being released to your Facebook contacts (Public enough?). Mark Zuckerberg is in a bit of a bind because he needs to appease his Advertising clientèle, the very same clientèle that has justified his $15 billion valuation by Microsoft. Expect more squirming from him in the coming weeks.
What I am trying to figure out is whether these charges are in fact as bad as they sound? With the Internet in the early 90’s to the growth in technology both mobile and online in the 00’s, what did we expect would happen to our personal information? Perhaps I am being the devils advocate here, but I do not necessarily think that this widespread use of our personal information is as bad a thing as critics will claim. Imagine how personalized our lives would be, if my information could be used to benefit my wants and needs?
Ex. I get an MMS on my phone from the nearest bar that offers Guinness, right during happy hour- reminding me to “Kick back and enjoy a Guinness!” Or I hear RBT advertisements (When making a call out) about the latest sports car from BMW or the Levis jeans I have been checking out. When I use the computer I receive links on the information I am interested in, or Email spam on the goods that I want or services I need. My life is now manifesting itself through the tools I use daily.
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying—this is not a blog post advocating spam or advertising, what I am merely saying is that services of this sort are ALREADY available in the market. Targeted MMS is offered by Virgin Mobile, Subscriber based RBT advertisements by Ad-Phone International, and email/spam by a slew of CP companies. In our haste to adapt to new technology, embrace services that offer us connectivity and personalization, we are also creating a monster, in the form of the advertising and marketing companies that want to have a piece of the new market. Should we be challenging them as they try to penetrate the market or mold and regulate them to suit our needs better? Let us not forget that we are not giving away our privacy for free. As advertisers and brands come in, they bring with them incentives like lowered minute rates, freebies and new and innovative services. Is this not something that we Filipinos can benefit from?