Let’s face it. Facebook has been getting a bad rap. Not saying they don’t deserve it. Privacy issues are very serious. Whether you are a marketing professional or IT guru, or just a selectively private person, you deserve to know what is being done with your data.
I came across an interesting take on it when I did a quick google on “facebook” and “data.” Some poor schmuck collected publicly available data from 210 millions Facebook users. Are you upset? I am too. But not at the poor schmuck. He was conducting a social science project where he planned to anonymize the data and create a visual map of friend connections with variable overlays. Really, a fascinating look at our culture as represented by Facebook.
My beef is with Facebook. They claim he violated their terms of service but not letting them know he was collecting the publicly available data. He didn’t have the funds to contest a lawsuit so he willingly gave up his data, and thus, his research. My guess is that Facebook wouldn’t allow it because they didn’t have a way to profit from it or monetize the data. They are a business after all.
So why has Facebook gone good? They haven’t. Nothing has changed except maybe perspective. While some were trying to work up users into a frenzy on Quit Facebook Day, others were focused on a more human aspect of the day – Memorial Day.
Since the event was a failure, it’s worth taking note of what Facebook is all about and perhaps why people choose to continuing using it. It’s about connecting with people. You may or may not care about the girl who sat in your 7th grade homeroom class. You might not be that interested in a former co-workers new puppy. But these people want to connect with you and with others.
I’m sure you have friends that love to play Farmville, Yoville, fill-in-blank-ville. Good for them. It’s how they entertain themselves. I’m sure you have the friends that love to post videos of every 80’s video they ever remember. Great. Let’s reminisce with them. And of course, you have the friends that post pictures of the latest party, family outing, baby shower, birthday party, etc. We get a peek into other people’s lives without necessarily participating in them. In fact, we even have a term for it.
You’re my Facebook friend.
You’re someone I like and talk to and share things with. I have most likely met you in real life but probably got to know you better on Facebook than I ever did in person. Maybe we feel a sense of security. We feel protected from rejection. Or maybe we just reconnect with people because we learn that through time and maturity, we have a lot more in common now.
My friend Jenny is a Facebook friend. I think Jenny is one of the sweetest and prettiest people around, inside and out. Jenny and I shared many high school classes together. We stayed in touch over the years through the random phone call and occasional email. But it wasn’t until Facebook that we really reconnected as friends.
Lately, I’ve shied away from Facebook. I’ve enjoyed connecting with new people through the blogging and Twitter world. I’ve even met some in real life. But my friends and family – the people I really know are on Facebook.
Last night, I turned my attention back to those people. I logged on and saw comments from familiar high school friends popping up on my News Feed. This one in particular caught my eye:
“thinking that we all need to cherish everyday that we have with our loved ones. I hope that the many prayers that are being sent out Jenny’s way can bring her family some comfort.”
Immediately, I thought, not my Jenny! I quickly checked her profile and my heart sunk. Her husband, Lance, had passed away at the very young age of 40. Lance also went to my high school and they were high school sweethearts. It was an unexpected passing which makes it all the worse for Jenny and her two young daughters.
As you might imagine, the outpouring of support on Facebook has been incredible. Even Jenny stopped by today to comment on how comforting it has been for her to log on and read all of the comments.
So the next time you start to complain about Facebook, remember what a social network is all about. Find the human connection amidst all the games and videos. And stay social.