Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Concerns about Facebook Have Nothing to do with Privacy

My concerns about Facebook have little to do with privacy.

I can see how some people would be put off by Facebook's callous attitude about their privacy, but I can't count myself amongst their number. I live pretty publicly anyway.

The recent kerfluffle has been almost entirely about privacy settings, but that's not where I fear Facebook. Instead, I'm afraid of the Like API announced at F8. I'm afraid of the walled garden creeping up around me. I'm afraid that I'll wake up one morning and someone will have taken my gloriously free Internet, and turned it into an AOL chatroom, unlinkable, unsearchable, unreachable by any means except the approved portal of Facebook.

I'm done with these gatekeepers like Zuckerberg (and Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch are right behind him)--each of them pursuing the dream of controlling what we consume.

I don't care that my browsing habits aren't private, I care that they aren't public in an open and searchable way!

Facebook drives a good amount of traffic my way, but no matter how many people "like" a status update of mine, it won't be searchable, or even reachable to someone not logged into Facebook. Facebook will allow all sorts of data in, but very little of it out in a searchable and linkable way. No, privacy is not my problem with Facebook.

I don't want to use Facebook for the same reasons I don't want to use the iPhone (the app store is a closed, proprietary, cynical construct, where the Gatekeepers bless or condemn as they see fit, for the benefit of us poor sods too feeble to choose for ourselves).

We are in the very earliest days of the new Internet ecosystem. The decisions we make now will have lasting effects on the structure of things to come. Facebook just feels like a big step backwards to me.

A step backwards towards centralized control.

A step away from the bazaar and towards the cathedral.

A step backwards towards our betters telling us what's good for us.

I want an internet that's open, searchable, linkable--not one that's governed, and certainly not one governed by the likes of Zuckerberg and Jobs.