01 Aug 2010
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10 Reasons why you shouldnt be on Facebook

By Contributor

Facebook – it’s the big thing right now. And considering it’s little more than a glorified message board, man is it compelling. It’s been said that internet users spend more time on Facebook than anywhere else online, and for many, Facebook is their main source of social interaction.

Facebook is the drug du jour of the online community. However, there are some critics of Facebook out there. Some say that, not only is Facebook a gargantuan waste of time, but the security risks, the privacy violations and risks of it all going wrong at any moment, far outweigh any of the benefits of being involved.

So here it is: the top ten reasons the critics say you shouldn’t be on Facebook.

1 - Facebook’s privacy policy is terrible. Facebook privacy is based on an ‘opt out’ model which means that unless you’ve specifically indicated otherwise, you are sharing everything you put on Facebook with the entire online world. This is no accident – this is by design. Critics say that the Facebook privacy controls are purposefully intended to confuse users; to make users feel protected when they are, in fact, not.

The information you share is very valuable to companies that would like to know just how to market to you most effectively. The more you share, and the more publicly you share it, the better for everyone involved (except you). And that ‘visibility’ setting? If you think that means private and protected, think again.

2 - The piracy of privacy. The biggest cause of Facebook’s privacy problem is right at the top.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg is not a fan of privacy, in general. In fact he’s gone so far as to say that privacy “is no longer the social norm”, and maybe he’s right. We are used to being more exposed in this day and age. But the irony is that it’s pretty much Facebook’s actions which are responsible for this lowered expectation!

Though Zuckerburg may think different, given the option, nearly all of us would choose more control over our information. If the Zuckerburg’s quote above seems a little flippant, here’s an IM exchange between Zuckerburg and a friend during Facebook’s early days on Harvard campus that will make your hair curl: Zuckerburg: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard...Just ask...I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS... Friend: How’d you manage that one? Zuckerburg: People just submitted it...I don’t know why....They “trust me”...Dumb f***s Make no mistake – the onus to protect your personal details is on you.

3 - Oversharing is easy – controlling your settings is hard. Facebook settings are not only complicated, but ever changing.

Just recently Facebook changed its privacy controls yet again to reduce users’ ability to manage who can see such information as their likes and interests, current city, workplace, and hometown, among others. The accidental ‘overshare’ is becoming such a common occurrence, that websites, such as www.lamebook.com, have popped up celebrating the fact. Although you’ll doubtlessly end up more confused than you are now, take a moment to read through Facebook’s privacy policy yourself, because it’s definitely a case of ‘user beware’.

4 - Your info is for sale. Have you been surfing the internet recently only to come across a website sporting a familiar ‘thumbs up’ icon, urging you to become the first one of your friends to ‘like this’? This new development is called ‘instant personalisation’ and it is the result of Facebook striking deals with other internet companies, selling users’ details to the highest bidder. Now, if you’re logged in to Facebook while surfing the web, third parties have a handy breadcrumb trail showing where you’ve been and what you’ve done.

If you don’t like this fact (and there’s no reason why you would), you’ll have to opt out. You can’t opt out of the whole system mind you. You’ll have to opt out on a site by site basis, one at a time. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon (or two).

5 - Back on the market? Not really. Facebook provides a handy button which allows you to broadcast your relationship status to the people in your network. Found someone to love? Share the good news with friends and family. It goes both ways however. When that relationship ends, or even if it just becomes ‘complicated’, hurt feelings and confusion can lead to situations of gigantic embarrassment.

So here’s a warning for would-be Casanovas: Jenny may be single again, but she may also be mourning, and not in the mood for that playful ‘poke’.

6 - Woah, this is awkward. Who hasn’t experienced an agonisingly awkward social moment in the real world?

Well Facebook adds a new layer to relationship hell, as boundaries between work and home, past and present, friend and casual acquaintance become blurred. Some people use Facebook strictly to stay in contact with their buddies from high school, and resent the intrusion of work colleagues into their online social circle.

But once that friend request arrives from an acquaintance at work, that friend of a friend, or that old flame, it can be an awfully difficult task to gracefully avoid making a connection where you’d rather there wasn’t one

7 - Those darn applications. Those quizzes - which character from The Golden Girls are you? What kinds of daschund are you? What kind of shoes are you? And that Allies war game. That one with the farm? Who cares? No one, that’s who. Honestly, no-one is interested in the fact that you’ve advanced another stage in these games. No one. Make sure you’re not spamming your friends with endless updates from the applications you’re using or better yet, don’t play them at all

8 - It’s an epic waste of time. How many times a day are you updating your Facebook page? How many times a day are you checking it? If you already have an obsessive compulsive disorder around checking your email, stay away from Facebook. While you can. There’s a real world outside, populated with real people, and while Facebook may look like a lot of fun, it’s no substitute for good old-fashioned fun times outside the Matrix.

9 - Hey I’m in your pictures! That kinda sucks. If you’re one of those people who never looks good in photographs, or if you’re one of those people who gets photographed at 2am with a lampshade on their head and tomato sauce stains on their trousers, Facebook isn’t your friend. What your so-called friends find absolutely hilarious could have serious repercussions down the track for you. Today’s unflattering picture can be the end of tomorrow’s job prospects, as more and more employers utilise social networks as a means to conduct background checks. Not only that, but Facebook provides a useful platform for creeps and stalkers of all varieties, who, through one simple tagged photo, have access to your picture, name and network of friends.

10 - No backing out now. Like a Chinese finger trap or the French Foreign Legion once you’re on Facebook, you’re on for good. Even if you die – yes, literally die dead - your Facebook page stays, and no amount of pleading with the Facebook corporation will change that. They will however change your Facebook page to a ‘memorial page’, with all your info intact, forever and ever, amen. What a fitting and tasteful tribute to a life misspent online.

Just don’t make any status updates. You’ll freak everyone out. It seems like quite a lot of hassle for something that it is really little more than a glorified bulletin board, don’t you think?

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