I have a friend who thinks Facebook’s child star Mark Zuckerberg knows exactly what he’s doing. He despises Mr. Zuckerberg and thinks the best use for him would be as a plug to stop-up the hole on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico that’s spewing oil at the rate of ten gallons every two seconds or so. Maybe he’s right about the latter, at least he’d be useful. I’m not so sure about the former though, as I really suspect Zuckerberg just doesn’t get it. I think he really doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about and why almost all Facebook users don’t want their personal information handed over to the top thousand highest bidders.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe Facebook’s Shirley Temple twin is innocent. Indeed, playing fast and loose with our private information isn’t the first time he’s betrayed those who’ve trusted him. Heck, the way I understand it, there wouldn’t even be a Facebook if he hadn’t cheated and stolen to get it. But I don’t think he thinks he did anything wrong there either. He was just being smart. Just like his idol Bill Gates was being smart when he stole his GUI from Apple. Kind of like in that movie Catch Me If You Can.
He doesn’t understand because sociopaths never understand. As long as he benefits, it’s right and just, no matter who gets hurt.
The entire media world is praising Zuckerberg today because he’s come to see the light. His users have made themselves clear, and he hears them. From here on out it will be much simpler for users to keep their personal Facebook information from getting in the hands of Halliburton, the Mexican Mafia, Russian identity theft rings or anyone else who ponies-up enough bucks to assure Zuckerberg that he remains the richest Gary Coleman wannabe on the planet.
Yeah, he’s done great. And like the spammer he is, under his newfound social conscience it’ll be up to you to tell him not to sell your stuff. He’s not going to wait for you to give him a call and say, “Hey Mark, if you can make a few bucks telling Amazon what I’m reading, go right ahead.” Nope. He’s going to go ahead and figure you won’t mind, unless you specifically tell him otherwise. Facebook is the last great bastion of opt-out.
This in spite of the fact that we pretty much settled this back in the 1990s when we all but set the standard as opt-in, not opt-out. An email list that’s sent opt-out is spam. A social network like Facebook that sells your info unless you opt-out is stealing, especially since the network knows that most users will not be savvy enough to know that opting anything is even necessary.
Facebook is a site operated by snakes. Which is too bad. Other than that, it’s a nice site.
Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux