Facebook and the privacy of your private parts

Does Facebook invade your privacy? This is a big issue on many fronts. Facebook and the Web, in more general terms, and other technologies have redefined what is possible in terms of worm-holing into our lives. This is old news at this point. What’s a little shocking is that the social media wunderkinds come across so apologetic, as if unaware of the havoc they have wrought.

Can they be that ignorant of their own business model? Of course not. They just assume the rest of us will keep buying the aw-shucks act.

I’m a fan of the European opt-in model, and I think more Americans should be as well.  Here’s why: All this invasive technology is not going to stop; in fact, it’s going to get worse, much, much worse. As the internet of things comes on-line, more and more aspects of our lives will be under the microscope, more data, ever more personal.

As Americans, we are a bit naive on the topic of privacy and the abuses of privacy that have gone on and continue to go on all over the world. We live in a country that ostensibly does not make a habit of spying on its citizens. And even if we’ve crossed that line on occasion, for the most part, we’ve been spared the abuses of family members disappearing forever in the middle of the night at the hands of our government. God Bless our democracy.

But this happens every day in many other countries. Can it happen here? Could it? Is it starting to happen now? But this is big business spying on us, not big government. But who owns the right to your data? Who owns the right to your privacy more than you? The big question is, who owns the internet? What rights does the government have? Will they exercise these rights to protect us and leverage available data from all the businesses who ride the internet for our benefit, to help protect us and our rights? Or not? These are vexing questions. That’s why I favor the opt-in model.

Social media exploited a free communications channel, or one made free by our government and built business models that in turn exploit our privacy. Not only does the model make money selling our user data, it’s also evolved to an ad server. The majority of these ads are useless and annoying clutter, the junk mail of the internet. What value are they really providing us? To my mind there is very little exchange of real value to anyone, in any party, beyond the ad revenue to the social media channel.

When we subscribe to a print publication, we opt-in. We’re agreeing the publication provides value to us in some equal measure of our money. Why should online media channels get to play by different rules? Opt-in increases the value exchange and gives us a voice in the matter. It also forces a quality dynamic down on the media channel and the advertisers. Because if it’s just so much crap, we’re gone.

Facebook is nearly a monopoly and opt-in would invite more competition; which of course, will drive improvements in the marketplace.