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Officially, I hate social networking (non Java rants)

Posted by fabriziogiudici on February 15, 2008 at 3:42 AM PST

Well, I've just removed my account from FaceBook (for what I could do).

The reason? I've just run into this article by an italian newspaper about the incredibly unfriendly policy about privacy that FaceBook applies (*). Basically, it seems it's quite hard, if possible, to completely remove personal data from it. I find this frankly unbearable and I don't want to support a service with this policy.

But there are really other reasons, and they are even more important. That episode just gave me the required five minutes to think of it (and blog on it during the lunch break). Basically, I didn't explicitly subscribed to FaceBook - I just accepted the invitation by a friend without understanding what was happening - a very subtle viral trick by those social networking sites. Indeed, the following things hold true:

  1. The whole thing of social networking is mere bullshit to me (**).What's up with getting to the FaceBook page and see that "Joe just took a photo", "Jane just accepted a beer" and "the other guy is twittering" (other piece of bullshit, BTW)? They are all pieces of useless information. I'm constantly keeping to try the level of information getting into my brain as low as possible, and it's frankly a problem with business mailing lists and contacts (but I can't avoid them). Figure it out whether I can tolerate useless things. Less is more.
  2. It's not the right way to communicate with my friends. A friend is a real human being, if I want to share something with him/her I just pick the phone or meet at the bar, where we can pat on the shoulder. All this virtualisation stuff of human relationships (Second Life? bullshit too) sounds to me as the mass madness of the XXI century. It's a sort of addiction, like drugs. Frankly, I think that real life is wonderful. I don't need either drugs or social engineering or other artificial stuff to enjoy my life.
  3. I don't want others to know too many things about me. The public side of myself is related to my profession and to my photo hobby for the part I'd like to share. All the rest is my own business and I'll share it only with people I like, when I like and in the way I like. It's another mass madness of this age: people seem to constantly turn into voyeurs bending in front of a peephole (or being watched behind it). It's not for me. I-want-to-keep-the-control-of-my-own-stuff.

So, if you are one of my friends and just noted that my connections on FaceBook have vanished, don't worry, we're still friends. If you are going to invite me to another social networking stuff, don't do, don't waste your time, I'll reject it.

(*) What drives me crazy is that when the public authority places a new camera down in the square or asks you for more information before an international flight, people raise up and protest against the Big Brother, the CIA, the NSA, and - of course - Mr. Bush or the local equivalent. Yes, freedom is always at stake, you have to constantly fight for it, maybe all those things are not so useful for the security purpose, but at least there's a sound reason behind it, which is not to be killed by a terrorist. In the meantime everybody is happy to give away the size of his pants to a site such as FaceBook without worrying about it. And, after all, only a few people are complaining about the absurd privacy policy of FaceBook. Which, BTW, sounds to be illegal in my country. In Italy there are some strict rules about personal data management and I remember that, when I run for a few years as the person in charge for the database of an association, it was one of my duties to amend and eventually completely remove the personal record upon the owner's request, and I had to do that in a pretty tight deadline...

(**) Yeah, yeah, I know that big money is on that business. Nevetheless, it's not my fault if people like to waste money, and it's neither a new thing indeed (for instance, people have always spent more money and time on things such as cigarettes, watching movies, attending football matches or dancing in a disco rather than buying and reading books).

Comments

i think the idea of social networking, which is certainly not mature yet given its young age, is valid. I think it's about going beyond generalised email and IM and bookmarking/media-sharing sites (in this big messy spam-filled cloud we call the web) and effectively integrating all of the above into a private and convenient messaging/communications/sharing platform, which is controlled by yourself, exclusive, spam-free and what-not?

Facebook (and PayPal and eBay and...) apparently are associated with right wing extremists, the loathsome type that forms the coercive, warped cabal forcing this beautiful planet backwards and downwards to oblivion. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/14/facebook

Conversation is natural, for

Conversation is natural, for some at least, and social networking should be just as natural but it seems as though we've lost the art of conversation somehow. True, there are those amongst us who prefer a quiet book, a walk alone in the park or a shack in the middle of a wood or high on a mountainside somewhere but most of us would like to think we knew how to network and how to be social wouldn't we? Barry Hertz

Hi Fabrizio,
You write:
"What drives me crazy is that when the public authority places a new camera down in the square or asks you for more information before an international flight, people raise up and protest against the Big Brother, the CIA, the NSA, and - of course - Mr. Bush or the local equivalent."
Well said! I agree completely.
I recommend everyone to take 4½ minute to watch this brilliant animation film about what can happen if we don't fight for our freedom.

Well said Fabrizio. And indeed, the "privacy" policies of Facebook (and Hyves, and most other "social networking sites") would not pass the requirements the EU places on companies (or government departments, though those happily break them with no penalty). In fact a lot of websites don't abide by those rules, including for example Google (and all their subsidiaries including gmail).

Ever think maybe Facebook is not for you? Some people enjoy Lifecasting and these Social networks are a way for there lives to stay connected with friends (without the traditional human interaction). Not saying this is the right way to do things, but it is a way. But I love the fact that this ended up to be on the front page of Java.net. (sarcastic comment)

E bravo! Finalmente uno che la pensa come me :-) Ciao!

Well, rugby is a different beast than football (at least until masses get fanatic about it and spoil it). Also LinkedIn is a different beast than FaceBook, in fact I'm still subscribed to LinkedIn and I appreciate it as valuable service.

For the rest, yes, FaceBook it's (just) not for me. Of course, quot capita, tot sententiae. :-) And I'm amazed too that it got to the front page.

Pretty much agree with everything. I would not be so unconditional to address everything else but books as a waste of money; e.g. last year I enjojed very much watching the Italian rugby final. Besides, networks like LinkedIn can be an opportunity, but that's a whole different story as they're very business oriented.