Sunday, November 21, 2010


Ah yes, here I am, sitting in front of the fire (natural gas) checking FaceBook (FB), the site with which I have a like/hate relationship. I like the ability to connect with people around the world and from my past, and to get peeks into their lives - and they into mine, to the extent I let them. But I don't like the data collection and ad targeting FB does, and I often think that I should quit FB to regain a small bit of my privacy (probably too late for that).

What is "social networking" and is Facebook it? Here's how Wikipedia defines the term:

A social network is a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called "nodes", which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.

(Interestingly, when I went to Wikipedia for this definition, there was a message from the site founder with this link to an appeal for donations to keep the site a community site with no ads.)

So yes, I guess FB is a social network because those of us who use it are there for friendship, common interest, or etc. But did each of us start using FB with the understanding that we would be targeted with ads based on the personal data the site collects about us? I kind of knew this, but not to the extent I understand it now. To be honest, FB often bothers me, in a creepy kind of way because I know that I'm the object of many clever people who are developing and refining ways to harvest information about me and my habits, likes and dislikes in order to make money from me directly or indirectly. This really isn't OK; this isn't really what I signed up for. I don't like being harvested.

I would rather belong to what I would consider a true social network that has nothing to do with a profit motive. I think it probably exists out there, but it's existence is hidden by the sheer dominance of Facebook. The online social network I want is a site that does not harvest any data, and does not have any ads. It asks the users to donate a small amount of money once a year to pay the expenses, like Wikipedia does, a donation I would happily make.

So I think I'll look around. Maybe one of you knows about my perfect social network and will clue me in.

1 comment:

  1. Each time you log on to your computer the ads target you. Try searching for an item, and the next time you log in there will be several choices of that item hand picked for you by your web browser. With FB, you just sign up for that, and it's all FREE???