Sunday 25 November 2012

A Letter to Facebook

Dear Facebook,

We need to talk. You’ve been a bit of a jerk lately. Look, I know you’ve been under a lot of pressure this year. Your IPO back in May was, erm, less than impressive and you’ve been scrambling ever since to find a way to really monetize your business. But screwing over the very users that make your company successful is hardly a good solution.

Quite frankly, privacy has never been your strong suit. You still don’t let users actually delete their accounts, only “deactivate” them, leaving their information sitting in cyberspace until the end of time. But you know what, we got over that. After all, Facebook is about sharing. But now, you're changing your privacy so you can actually sell our personal information to your third-party affiliates. Sure, it’s a great way to make a few bucks, but it’s pretty unfair to the rest of us. This relationship is starting to feel a little abusive.

But that’s not even the end of it.

For a little while now, you’ve been operating by a system that allowed users to dictate company policy according to the “number of substantive comments” on a policy change. You thought, “Hey, if 7,000 people care, we should listen to what they have to say and let them vote on the issue.” Really, it was cute how much you cared about what we thought. Na├»ve, but cute. It must have been shocking when you realized that ::gasp:: people were posting just to raise the comments number towards the 7,000 mark. Fortunately, this realization has opened your eyes to what the rest of us already knew; commenters are jerks. Unfortunately, this has also made you a jerk.

So now you’re upset. Mean commenters have ruined your digital democracy. You’re thinking, “To hell with them, we’ll make our own decisions from now on.” Of course, your shift towards autocracy won’t sit easy with a lot of users and certainly not well with the technorati’s journalists and bloggers. So you’ve tried to quell fears of a social media dictatorship with promises that a new, better system will be implemented that encourages quality over quantity. Conveniently, you’ve failed to describe this system at all and nobody can quite figure out how it might work.

Facebook, we’ve had some really good times together. But as our relationship developed, I got the feeling you just don’t care about me. I really like you. I want you to be successful. I want you to make lots of money. But I also want a little bit of privacy and just a little say in what goes on around our personal data.

So before you go off the deep end turning us into dollar signs, remember that users like me are the only reason you exist at all. 



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