Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once wrote, “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” But the rise of social media networks such as Facebook has made it easy, almost a little too easy, for these three spheres to merge.
In last week’s Jan. 25th podcast, On the Media discussed a feature that had recently been made available to some Facebook members. The new search tool is essentially a filter that allows users to cross-search individuals using ‘Likes’ or general information found on public profiles. The show invited Tom Scott, British humorist and a fellow beta tester, to speak about the way in which he’d utilised the site’s latest search to create (as he dubbed it) “cheap jokes”. And indeed, finding Catholics whose passions included the existence of condoms is rather comical. But beneath the humour, there is a very sobering message to be taken about the privacy of our online selves.
As Scott pointed out, this search function is nothing new. Ever since advertisers learnt how to use the Internet, they have been finding ways to make it work in their advantage. We should not be shocked by these invasions of privacy and yet, we are. And though Scott encourages the use of privacy settings to limit the information that can be put out to the world, the fact remains that that data still exists and with it, a landmine of potential that can eventually be tapped into. And so if privacy is the desire, logically, completely forgoing Facebook is the answer.
… But seeing as I’ve got my Facebook open in a different tab even as I type this, I can talk the talk but I obviously can’t walk the walk just yet.
C’est la vie.