Facebook and Me

Of course I have a Facebook profile – it’s linked to over there on the right hand side just below my Twitter account. I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with Facebook, exiled and even considering how to get rid of it and pointing out that even if I wanted to I couldn’t thanks to Facebook’s policy of deactivation versus deletion. Only recently have I fully started to trust Facebook and that coincided with my ability to remove my profile from the listings of anyone other than friends. So, if you want to find me, you have to find me through my friends or that link on the right. It makes me feel a little more secure.

Let me change that usage of the word “trust” though – I don’t trust them with my information and friends, as I think that it’s a clever recruiting tool for the collection of everything I do, but mostly I also think that the only reason I feel safe now is that I know that my information is “secure” in that only people I know can see it for now. Sure, Facebook in it’s big brother capacity, knows what I am doing, but I don’t mind that. If I think about it, and the other 500 million people that are on the site, I realise that I am a miniscule person in that massive pool of folk – folk that are probably in varying degrees easier to scope out information for. I wonder what percentage of those users has their profile set up to be “public”.

It’s an impressive milestone, 500 million people. The number is so big it’s almost out of our area of understanding. Consider that it’s approximately 7.6% of everyone in the world. Or, as far as we know, it’s 7.6% of every intelligent being in the universe. It’s a scary number for anything, even a country – the United States of America isn’t even that populous. It is worse when you think that these people are signed up not to a charity but to a private company that wants to make money from those 500 million people. I guess it wouldn’t be hard to make money from that number of people would it?

At any rate, I’ve been a Facebook member since 6th March 2007. In fact I remember that day decidedly well considering – it was a night out for my flat mate’s birthday and I didn’t know what Facebook was. My first Facebook message came a month later when my friend Colin asked me “Is this some sort of dating website?”… How little did he know what it was to become. At that time it had round 18 million people on it. That was, at the time, 4 and half times the population of Scotland. Now the site has 125 times the population of Scotland. Maybe the next major World War won’t be between nations but between groups of people on the internet? The idea of a World without international borders doesn’t remove the notion of countries, it just re-imagines them as defined by what shoes they wear, what movies they like, or if the have read the Lord of the Rings novels. Who can tell?

I can’t see me getting rid of my Facebook, even more so now that I am leaving. It’s a invaluable tool to keep in touch, share and chat to friends that you might not see enough and in that respect Facebook is great. But the more it becomes like a country in it’s own right it needs to start acting democratically I guess. Or maybe not – the difference with the internet is that it takes almost no time to get up and leave in protest and there will always be someone ready to make a quick buck from the internet.

Maybe we shouldn’t be scare of Facebook, but Facebook should be scared of us – what we give we can take away. And maybe that’s why I am more trusting now.