We need to talk about Facebook

When I checked my phone this morning I found I had received a Facebook message from a friend who lives an another country where a persons privacy is much more greatly valued (I’m pretty sure John Key would sell off our birth certificates if it meant he could get the kitchen in his third house remodelled). The note was saying that the person was going to leave Facebook primarily because of their recent policy changes that shut out any democratic process re: the privacy of Facebook users as well as what the new policies mean for advertisers. Personally I think it was a smart move, those conspiracy theorists who believe the CIA are the real reason the social network exists may not be far wrong when they say “just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean nobody’s out to get me.” We appear to have become Rhihanna to Mark Zuckerburg’s Chris Brown. Despite all the disservice Zuck has done us in the interest of money, we still come crawling back to the grey, white and blue waiting for the next inevitable privacy beating.

So what to do? “All our friends use Facebook” you all say. “If I leave how will I stay in contact with them?” Well if you really want to leave there’s always email. If you insist on still using some sort of social network you could always try and convince your friends to fork out for app.net and I’m pretty sure Skype isn’t owned by Facebook yet. There are certainly other ways to interact with people other than Facebook (IRL is a good start) but what do we do about this massive thing we have invested so much into? (if you haven’t invested that much time into your Facebook page you’re no doubt a better man than I.)

If you’ve read any of my other blog entries you may have come across my Internet policy in the past, but I’ll reiterate it:

“If you don’t want the whole world to know about it, don’t put it on the Internet.”

I have not lived under the illusion that Facebook is a private gated community that keeps everything you put up there away from the prying eyes of strangers, government agencies and megacorporations alike. If you are even remotely uncomfortable with the possibility of your privacy being breached the Internet as we know it is, frankly, not for you. If the Petraeus scandal in the US wasn’t a timely-enough reminder, when people want to get into your cyber-life they can, and they don’t need Facebook to do it. If you’re putting something online you’re absolutely 100% putting it in public view. How then shall we live?
Personally I see this as a challenge. I’m a Christian and the Bible tells me how I should live. Whether or not I successfully follow God’s rules on that every day is a matter for debate, but verses about how to live as a Christian totally apply to cyberspace. Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly (Micah 6:8,) love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:31,) whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on these things (Phillipians 4:8.) I don’t pertain to have adhered to these standards particularly well but they serve as a reminder to me of what the world should see in me when I post something online. Have Facebook’s policy changes blunted my willingness to use the service? Yes, but I’ve expected this day to come for a while and I’m not surprised by it. The changes have prompted me to take a good look at my social networking life and re-evaluate my conduct therein. I need to live so advertisers and the CIA can see that Christians aren’t these perfect super-humans. That God works and that he loves people.

I think that’s all I have to say about that. If JK does sell off my birth certificate then I’ll be much more ranty later on, but this is it for now.