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Are Facebook and Privacy Oxymorons?

October 20, 2010

This is an interesting question to ask and one I think is deserving of more discussion.

Why do Facebook users always seem to have issues with privacy on Facebook? Maybe it has to do with the apparently prevailing mindset of Internet company executives right now. Eric Schmidt of Google said a whie back with regards to privacy and I quote, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

How does this sentiment, expressed by the head of the most powerful public information gathering operation the world has ever known, jibe with the traditional American ideal of “A right to privacy” which American Courts established long ago? It doesn’t. At all. In fact, its quite repugnant to that ideal.

So “What does this have to do with Facebook? That’s Google”, you might say. And you’re right. But take a good look at all the past Facebook privacy issues. Take a look at most of the initiatives brought to the fore by Facebook. You will notice a very similar pattern emerge, a pattern of exposing more and more of your personal information to both the public and to advertisers. A pattern indeed in line with the sentiments expressed by Mr. Schmidt. Not to mention Mr. Zuckerberg of Facebook himself has stated “The age of Privacy is over.” How nice of him to declare that for all the rest of us on the planet.

As a marketer, I love this as it allows me to better serve my clients. As an American, I get somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of every detail of my life potentially exposed to half a billion people.

What do you think? Weigh in and let us know.