How Facebook Changes Privacy

We always talk about privacy and Facebook — about how Facebook violates privacy laws, how it ignore’s user’s basic right to privacy, how they should change the default settings to facilitate user’s privacy beliefs.

But what we don’t realize is that Facebook is slowly drawing privacy back. It’s not even sinister.

At it’s root is people’s perception of privacy.

It’s almost cliched now that old fogies will complain about the lax privacy attentiveness of young people today. “Kids today” they said, “They have no shame. They post their diaries, their phone number, and every single photo for the world to see.”

You can see it yourself. Take a look at any teenager’s Facebook and take a look at their parent’s. The teenager’s (roughly generalizing here) will be filled with status about their day to day goings, photos of every single possible thing ever, and an ever-continuous flutter of conversation from wall to wall. The older person’s will have status about vacations, about marriages  about the big things.

This can be partially attributed to the fact that younger people are more impulsive. We think less about what we post online and more about what we can let our friends know. We think not of the logical process of filtering out information for privacy and instead about the emotional reward for posting it.

Facebook has especially facilitated this change by making it possible to let people know the play-by-play of your life. They have made it possible to let your friends instantly know how life is and stay in contact with them. Who doesn’t want to keep in touch with your friends?

But this alone would not shift people’s ideas of privacy. Otherwise, the older generation would be much more comfortable with how the younger generation treats it.

The second key is that Facebook has made it acceptable to pay for products with personal information. It has made an amazing product that connects the world only for the low price of personal information. The users get to use Facebook and Facebook get to know everything they would ever want to know about a person short of medical records and credit score.

This has now become standard for the younger generation. It has become expected that free things require some private info to be given up. This ability has devalued the worth of personal information for users and made them more willing to give it up.

Because of Facebook, we are seeing the start of a shift in views on privacy.

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