Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why I'm Not Quitting Facebook (And Other Thoughts on Social Media)

Did you know that Memorial Day was also “Quit Facebook Day”? It was designed to be a huge sign of protest to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a result of the recent privacy exploits. I didn’t pay much attention to the news or read the related articles about the privacy issue, mainly because I realize that all great innovations tend to have bumpy starts, and this isn't the first time Facebook's protesters have raised a rucus. Besides, social media, while already incredibly powerful, is a growing breed that will continue to evolve as we experiment further with technology. Anyway, if you missed the event, you can read all about it here.

And you can read about how the event was a complete flop here.

I'll admit I'm not well-informed about the debate, but it seems to me that before people (36,000 out of 400 million, roughly .07%) create an uproar and cut off their social networks, perhaps they should try lobbying for more positive change. Help educate one another about the privacy issues and work towards creating stronger guidelines for future protection. Rallying the troops to leave a site that 400 million people and companies deem worthwhile seems counter-productive to the social media trend. Sure, Facebook could use a few bandaids, so perhaps the .07% of the site's disgruntled users should stop bickering and creating mass protests and start working together to improve the site. Afterwards, if these users still feel exposed by Facebook's actions, then by all means - leave the site.

What it really comes down to, though, is having the self-control to regulate and monitor your own Facebook (or any other social networking application) activity. If there's information you don't want people to know, then don't post it. It's really that black and white. Social networking was created for information-sharing, and social media, as a whole, allows us (as consumers) to both consume and produce content for the masses. In general,  most folks who get themselves in trouble are the ones who treat these applications like their own personal diary.

Today's internet allows for many mediums in which we can create our own personal brand, and Facebook is smart to capitalize on it with their "like" button appearing all over the web. I like the simple ability to shape my external perception, whether it’s through my blog (e.g., the post you’re reading now), the companies and pages I “like” on Facebook and the general web, or the comments and status updates on Facebook.

And lets not forget about the ability to be connected 24/7, thanks to the development of mobile applications of our favorite social sites. This makes some folks shiver, but I (extrovert) thrive on being able to quickly connect with my husband, a friend, or family member. While making a quick walk down the hall to the rest room, I can find out that Katie just had her baby, Tim's plane is delayed, and three of my friends won't make it to volleyball tonight.

So, no. I'm not quitting Facebook, despite the privacy issue. And I think the development of further social media isn't stopping anytime soon.