Fear of facebook

I’m not on facebook. People keep telling me I should create a profile but I’ve resisted. There’s something about the whole thing that makes me very uncomfortable.

I know it’s a completely irrational prejudice, fuelled by something I read, claiming that among other things, an investment company set up by the CIA owns shares. A bunch of multinationals like Coca Cola also have shares.

Facebook is essentially a massive marketing tool, allowing companies to harvest information about its patrons, and target them with direct marketing, or use the information as free market research, or keep tabs on them in some Big Brother kind of way.

Putting the paranoid conspiracy theory away for a second, what company doesn’t harvest information about individuals likes and dislikes. I posted on twitter recently about my frustrations with EDF Energy. I’d been overcharged, and wanted a refund. EDF contacted me through twitter offering to help. I didn’t reply, I didn’t trust that it was EDF, so ignored their repeated advances.

This highlights something for me. While Twitter is a very public arena it feels very private, I hadn’t given much thought to the notion that a company like EDF would be monitoring the twitter timeline. Truthfully I felt a little stalked, and I think that’s another of the things that makes me feel uncomfortable with facebook.

While facebook is a great tool for connecting people, it also gives access to those who you would rather not have in your life. We all have them, that work colleague you’d rather not talk to, or the long lost friend who is better staying lost.

Social networking sites like facebook allow the kind of personal access I’m reluctant to give to anyone but those closest to me. At some point I know I am going to have to hand them my details, join the club, for professional reasons as much as anything, but for now I think I will stay clear of the microscopic spotlight that facebook exposes you to.

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