Your Big Brother Facebook

The superspeed e-commercialization of the web can have its ups and downs.

We are living in an age where communication travels at light speed; information is in excess. We’re on the verge of a globalized community that knows no limits through social networking.

Last year, Time magazine named its “Person of the Year” as YOU­—the collective Internet community. In the conscientious eyes of the magazine’s social commentators, we are fondly dubbed as “the YouTube generation”—or “Web 2.0”—where most aspects of our lifestyles, in one way or another, are dependent on online communication or the transfer of digitized information.

However, as with most revolutions of the past, the fruits of our “webvolution” do not come without a cost. Sites on the Internet, in exchange for their services, can record our every activity, content and piece of personal information to minute detail while sharing these resources with commercially vested interests. Facebook, for instance, is an example of our webvolution’s Big Brother trend. Your profile can and display your favourite music, birth date, address, educational history, pictures, sexual orientation, daily schedules, political affiliations and, most recently, a “timestamp” feed that logs your minute-by-minute activity on the site.

And that’s not all. Facebook’s privacy policy also states, “Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service.”

So where does this leave room for your privacy?

Facebook’s terms of service additionally grants the company, “irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, perform, display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute [your] information and content and to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such information and content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.” You further grant Facebook the right to share your information with companies with which Facebook has a relationship. Can you think of any marketing company that would pass by this chance of obtaining your detailed information?

We can often lose sight of what we sacrifice in exchange for our own social spotlight on Facebook. I believe Time magazine’s selection was a miss when they spearheaded the collective Internet community as their most influential Person of the Year: we are also the most influenced. Our behaviours and actions are easily swayed by the ongoing market-oriented, pop culture cheese. Our influence upon the market is, in one way or another, the product of the marketplace.

Sites like Facebook should enact a policy that prevents the outside transfer of your personal information. But unless the YouTube generation votes against Internet privacy violations with their dollars and cents, Big Brother is here to stay.

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