10 May 2010

Going Rogue

No, I'm not talking about the Sarah Palin "memoir," and I am not turning this blog back to politics just yet (though this post is a bit political in nature).

I'm talking about Facebook, and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, especially since a lot of people are on Facebook these days - over 400 million worldwide. I myself have relied heavily on Facebook to meet and befriend new people, from progressive activists to members of the LGBT community to Unitarians. Zuckerberg had started Facebook as a way of communicating with his Harvard classmates, but soon it grew beyond collegiate settings and became an easy-to-use, worldwide phenomenon, replacing Rupert Murdoch's MySpace service in the capacity.

But the following articles state that Facebook has betrayed its origins as a service that gave users control over their information, and now is more of a service where users are collecting and involuntarily giving up information to Zuckerberg so that he can sell them off.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Facebook uses some form of algorithm, details virtually unknown to the public, to mine data regarding users, so that Zuckerberg can sell ads that target the users by their interests. And based on what I see, Facebook seems to have profiled me to be something similar to Zuckerberg himself - a far-right Republican. Perhaps my profile as a far-right Republican is based on my demographic information (model minority Asian elitist in upper-class Southern California suburb, speaking the most important Republican language - Korean). Zuckerberg would've been right on about me, if I were Christian and heterosexual; sorry, but I'm neither. Facebook is convinced that I am scared of Hillary Clinton scheming with the United Nations to destroy the Second Amendment, and that I would join over a million other Facebook users in praying for the death of President Barack Obama. (The fact that Facebook refuses to remove that Obama death prayer group, in itself, is a good indication of Zuckerberg's far-right leanings, especially considering that Facebook aggressively removes groups that are tongue-in-cheek jokes about Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin.)

The only good thing I see out of this is that just like America Online, Netscape, and MySpace before it, Facebook will eventually be replaced by something even greater and more accountable to the public. Ten years ago, the world couldn't imagine an online world without AOL or Netscape, the way Facebook is so intergral to Internet experience today. Facebook's no-privacy police state will eventually be its own undoing. For many, a much simpler service like Twitter may do - though I find Twitter to be too limited and not to my liking. Eventually as proprietary America Online gave way to public Internet-based discussion boards on common protocols, Facebook should give way to something similar but more public, and that'll be a very good development for the future of the Internet.

Up until now, I've used Facebook to a point where my travel photos go there first before coming here. That will change. I will once again feature my travel photos here, then have my Facebook profile link here. I am cutting down on other Facebook activities, and limiting my activities to discussions, and comments on friends' statuses.