My social network

So Twitter is ‘in early talks with potential buyers Facebook and Google’, according to a report in The Guardian.

Consider Twitter, or Dropbox, or Skype, or whatever online service you care to. If you knew that in five years they would be bought by Google or Facebook or Amazon, or some today-unheard-of venture capital group, or the People’s Liberation Army, would you be more or less likely to sign up?

Maybe every online service today that’s still around in ten years will by then be part of one corporation. This is one reason I’m reluctant to put my social network online. You know the deal: “link to all your friends and family; upload and tag all your photos; list where your friends live and work; What restaurant are you in, and who else is there, and what are they having? Whatcha doin, where ya goin’, whoozat? Put it all online! It’ll be great!” Beyond what should be normal reticence, there’s reasonable caution, and sloth. Why would I type all that in? When I mail letters, I keep the address face down so people can’t see who I’m writing to. Even if I trusted the privacy settings and were comfortable letting Twitter or Dropbox have all that data now, who will have it in five years – an age on the web, but not so long in reality.

Moreover, it seems impossible to disguise one’s social connections with chaff. It would be one thing to tell Facebook falsely (and hypothetically, since it might violate their terms of service) that one graduated from high school in 1983, has a degree in physics, and works for Inetech. It would be another thing to try to maintain a fake social network. In fact it would be several other things – tedious, unrewarding, and finally impossible; in time the fake social network would become a real social network. It might be a good idea for a story though.

Imagine a guy paid to use Facebook. He’s maintaining a phony network of friends. Why? He doesn’t know. There would be a cover story – “marketing research” or something – but he would discover that to be false. Surprise, the company that is paying him to lie for them, is lying to him. Is it an elaborate stock scam, or something more sinister? And who’s the old man who pretends to be a janitor?

Anyway, I’m not much inclined to give to any online service links to all my friends and family. Even if I trusted the service today, nobody knows what the online world will be like in five or ten years.

Advertisements

5 Replies to “My social network”

  1. A lot of folks have net personas– Foxfier Sailorette is on Facebook, for example.

    Almost all the data I share could be found in public records, and the rest with minor social engineering.

  2. It’s an interesting distinction you bring up (even if it’s not your main point): putting your actual social network online vs having a social network online. If it weren’t fundamentally impossible to keep those two separate, I might not have a problem with a social network that wasn’t fake, just separate from the people I know in real life. But of course it’s not possible.

    Regarding Foxfier’s comment: I get that. But I figure I’ll keep making anyone who wants the information go to the trouble of searching public records and doing the minor social engineering themselves. Though here I am…commenting on a blog.

  3. I have some social networking accounts, but I don’t broadly link to friends and family. I guess there’s the on-line network of blogs I read and comment on and those who comment here. Even online I’ve kept different areas of activity separate. There are of course a few people who are part of multiple circles, but the idea of old friends from high school, co-workers, church ladies, guys from the coffee shop, and people from different online communities all commenting here gives me the creeping fantods. Maybe that means I lack integrity. Hopefully Facebook won’t buy WordPress, nor Google buy Starbucks, but anything could happen.

    1. There are of course a few people who are part of multiple circles, but the idea of old friends from high school, co-workers, church ladies, guys from the coffee shop, and people from different online communities all commenting here gives me the creeping fantods.

      Oy! Me, too.

      And excuse me if I don’t find some college boy’s idealism about how we should not have any secrets at all in the least bit persuasive.

  4. I have my real world friends and family who have links to my 2 recipe sites. Then I have a few people I have met once or twice in real life because they commented on my blog or I played Warcraft with them for 4 years. Only two of those in the former category do I consider to be in the first category. Other than that, my online social network is vastly different than my real life one. I am not on FB, Twitter, MySpace, etc. nor do I visit real life friends on those outlets. Or even imaginary internet friends. I do the blog rounds and that’s it. I realize in the grander scheme of things that is still more than enough for anyone to find out just about anything about me, but I don’t want to spare that much time being paranoid. I just try to make sure that nothing I say online or post online is something that I wouldn’t say face to face or be embarrassed to have my mother see. :)

Comments are closed.