So forgive me if I call you silly for fearing Facebook’s so-called “invasion of privacy“. This fearmongering business is a distortion of the truth, that is in fact as Michael Arrington mentioned, “no new information is being made available about users”. So where does all the information come from?
If you have a Facebook account, logging in will present you a new page where you’ll get to see a news flow of what everyone in your network is doing. In one glance, you’ll see and respond to friends if needed, sort of like an email inbox. This saves you clicking on everyone’s profile just to see what each person’s up to.
Now pause and think for a moment. What does this remind you of?
Blogs and RSS newsreaders. Your friend’s Facebook profiles are actually like blogs, while Facebook’s News Feed would be your RSS newsreader.
But what if I don’t want my Facebook profile to be read like a blog?
It’s time for you to wake up! As Brad Gessler said, it is amusing that the students are now just realizing their privacy is at stake when it has been the entire time. Realize that the minute you invested time in building your Facebook profile and network, you’re already engaging the public in a limited sense. What you might not be aware of is that anyone can search for your profile by default. Every social network has different rules about privacy, and as for Facebook, it was always open to anyone with a .edu email account. Still, take solace in the fact that the News Feed only shows updates within a user’s network, not the entire Facebook population (that would be overbearing).
It’s a Feature, not a Bug.
Note that even without the News Feed feature, it’s not like I couldn’t see what you’re doing. This News Feed just makes it easier for me to know what you’re doing, throw in a comment if appropriate and start conversations where they might not have existed. Yes, this is disruptive since it connects all of us at another level, so while it is shocking to the uninitiated (please read the Privacy FAQ), it’s really for the better since it establishes a more connected social network.
No, News Feed isn’t about stalking.
Since the News Feed shows what everyone is doing, you can’t possibly stalk everyone on your network (that really sounds tragic!). A stalker would be more appropriately define as who someone camps on your Facebook profile 24/7 just to see what you are doing (which is entirely possible).
Why did you join this social network in the first place?
You joined because you probably had friends who did and you wanted to keep in touch. For that very sole purpose as your network grew, didn’t you find it harder to keep track of what your friends were doing? You probably missed out on something big, like someone’s birthday or even a wedding. Frankly speaking, Facebook was so stagnant without this singular godsent feature. It’s what binds us together and once we get the hang of it, you wouldn’t want to live without it.
Still fear the exposure?
One word: Covergence. What Facebook has done is to simply put all the pieces of you in one place, sorta like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. An extreme worse case scenario was when AOL released search results of their users… we remember how netizens could piece together pieces to reveal pretty scary people, including someone who was clearly researching how to kill his wife. As such, the rules of privacy apply everywhere on the Internet, including Facebook. If you think it’s something detrimental to your future, DO NOT PUBLISH IT. Facebook or not, don’t assume there’s a virtual rock you could hide your dirty linens under. Accept the way the Internet truly works and learn to be tactful when sharing personal information online.
Get the facts right.
Understand what you’re dealing with rather than to blindly follow the masses and to sign anti-newsfeed petitions because your friends did. Petitions are cool but they can be really retarded, like this one earlier this year also against an earlier Facebook feature.
Finally, if you ever have something to hide, simply hit the X on your mini-feed as shown in my screenshot (sucks, apparently it doesn’t work).
Update 1: Seeing how Facebook users prefer to downplay their social connections, it’s ironic how professional social network, LinkedIn, makes your relationship with others explicit for the purpose of building your reputation. I guess different demographics = different objectives (e.g. getting wasted vs. getting a job).
Update 2: On a related note, if you fear the loss of privacy and refuse to blog because of that, you’re missing the point. While it’s relatively easy to pick up your online trail through search engines like Google (e.g. searching nicknames in forums, news reports), I always believe that running your own blog or online presence lets you manage your online identity, rather than to be at the whim and fancy of incriminating search results pointing back to you. Some might say it’s a lot of work, but that’s contradictory since valuing your privacy is part of managing your reputation. Doing so takes the same amount of time it does for you to maintain your statue in real life.
Update 3: Nemik rawks. Why? Because he just wrote a script last night that transforms the Facebook News Feed into RSS. Grab the source, customize it then stay tuned to your Facebook network via RSS newsreader!