I’m just going to say it out loud, in a post, on social-media. I’m not worried about the Facebook data breach.
On Facebook we voluntarily make certain information about ourselves available.
I bet you know when my birthday is: June 13th. I bet that information is obtainable to anyone who has ever even briefly been on the internet.
I don’t consider the date of my birth to be proprietary information. I am happy to share. Maybe in June you will even wish me a happy birthday.
Facebook didn’t steal that information from me.
I gave it up willingly.
I told them.
I also told them I live in Dallas, but grew up in New York.
These pieces of information aren’t secret. I mention my background to people in person all the time.
If I meet someone at a party and I tell them I grew up in New York, they may try to convince me to invest in their New York based Hot Pretzel street cart business.
That’s okay. It is true I am from New York, so they have some reason to think I might be interested in New York pretzels. It happens I am not, so I will just say, no thanks.
Now if they steal my credit card from out of my back pocket and invest in pretzels on my behalf without my agreement, that is stealing. That is not okay.
But if they ask me to invest because of my New York roots that doesn’t bother me at all.
I just say no.
And I’m sure Facebook knows my thoughts and opinions on a variety of issues.
I often share my thoughts right out loud. Often in editorial opinion pieces like this one.
I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions as well. How can we learn to think about any issue with care and insight if we don’t consider alternative viewpoints? In fact, I often use the availability of the vast internet to see what people of diverse opinions and perspectives are writing and stating on a large variety of subjects.
Also, sometimes people ask me for money for good causes.
Sometimes this happens in the supermarket check-out line. I’ll be bagging some apples and the cashier will ask me if I want to make a contribution to the Texas food bank.
And sometimes, I do contribute a few dollars. Is it related to me being asked for food bank money while I’m purchasing food for my home? Maybe, but It’s still a good ask.
On Facebook I’m asked to contribute to disaster funds, environmental issues and political campaigns.
Sometimes I say yes.
Facebook doesn’t shame me into contributing. Nor does the cashier at the supermarket.
I know my information is out there. For the most part, I put it out there myself.
People are now marketing directly to me.
They are looking for customers.
I can always keep saying no thanks.
I do admit it’s creepy when I use my search engine to purchase blue socks and then receive a plethora of ads about blue socks.
“They” are out there tracking my on-line life.
But, again, I can just say no. And I do.
I can block ads. And I do.
I could stop searching for stuff online but it is so convenient to tap into the vast world of online information. It is so much easier to shop without going to the store. Information is infinitely more accessible than when I was a child looking things up in the library encyclopedia.
If having someone discover my preference in tee shirts is the cost I pay for the ease of online purchasing, I’m okay with that.
Because I don’t feel private about my tee shirts.
That’s why I’m willing to look for them online.
It would be nice to think we could engage in online shopping, medical queries and internet socializing without a third party paying attention to our activities for their own benefit.
But as the cashier in my local supermarket tells me, how can the market decide what products I want on the shelves if they don’t track how often I buy the particular delicious brand of jam I enjoy.
I benefit from being tracked, even when I don’t like the intrusion of being tracked.
I could leave social media and remove my information from the public domain as much as possible, but it is fiction to think we can move through the interfaces of our society without being counted in some way. When I post on Facebook I expect someone will see it.
If I really don’t want something known, I just keep it entirely to myself.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”
Facebook may be struggling, but I’m pretty sure it is not yet dead.