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Faceborg does it again 18 February, 2009

Posted by aronzak in Uncategorized.
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After the first major mess up with Beacon, Faceborg has gone and done it again with a new Terms of Service (ToS) policy, that basically means “we own everything you put on Facebook. Forever.” It’s already bad enough that when someone dies their Facebook pictures get pilfered to publish in news media, but this now means that Facebook itself will sell all of your private data to the highest bidder for any purpose. Slashdot is reporting that a Facebook group has a huge lot of people showing token support for a ‘protest’. The question is, why would Facebook do that? First, they need cash. Dan Lyons explains:

…There will be a lot of bailing out taking place at Facebook but it will be the old-fashioned kind — kids bailing out when they realize there’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and bigshot Google defectors bailing, preferably early and with good excuses, so they don’t end up with flop stink all over them… [they] really, really, really meant all that stuff about changing the world by creating software that lets recent college graduates hook up more efficiently and force-feeds them targeted advertising…

And we can find a second reason in his earlier coverage on the Beacon cock up as fake Steve Jobs:

Faceberg has posted an apology on the company blog for the Beacon fiasco. Money quote: “I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.”

Thing is, nobody ever doubted that Facebook can do better. What’s scary is the fact that they won’t do better until people start to scream at them. It’s the fact that it doesn’t really seem to be in their nature to do the right thing. Their instinct, in fact, seems to be to do the wrong thing, and to keep doing it until they get caught. Even after they get caught, their instinct is to spin and fudge and brazen it out. No wonder the Borg has partnered with them. It’s a match made in heaven. These guys are like Google, only their slogan isn’t “Don’t be evil” — it’s “Don’t get caught.”

And he goes on:

Facebook’s business model … pits Facebook against its customers. The amount of money that Facebook can make is defined (and constrained) by the degree to which its users will allow themselves to be exploited.

This punk scares me. And I miss the days when the Valley was about making chips and routers and computers, not sending people zombie bites and tracking their online purchases. I miss the days when we were the good guys…

I have to echo that sentiment. It scares me that tech experts could potentially put their skills to use making the world a tangibly worse place.

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