Facebook IPO demonstrates our willingness to give up privacy

845 million people willingly display personal photos, events and feelings making Facebook worth $100 billion

Mark Zuckerberg worth billions with our private information (illustration Business Insider)

The announced IPO of social media darling Facebook is putting out to pasture the old concept of privacy.

More people share more information on Facebook than the NSA and CIA have ever been able to collect in the years of their existence.

We do it willingly and regularly. Party pictures, new babies, wedding shots, that vacation in the Dominican Republic are all broadcast to strangers on Facebook. 

Governments are passing more and stricter laws forbidding the voluntary disclosure of the information we are voluntarily sharing.

There are restrictions on who can see what through Facebook Privacy settings, but even they allow leakage of private information beyond the old standard of showing wedding photos to the girlfriends and Aunt Sophie.

A practical quick solution to the Facebook privacy problem is to restrict everything in your Facebook account to “Friends” and not “Friends of Friends”. Secondly, it is advisable to check your friends list from time to time and make sure they are people you know and trust. Once a picture or post is “Shared”, your Friends can pass it on.

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, told people to get over their obsession with privacy. “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

In its latest iteration, Facebook has constructed a chronological history of our lives. By placing photographs and Facebook posts in date order, it simulates the story of our lives. People are so attuned to sharing that they regularly go to their wall and fill in the details of years that are missing.

It’s not just Facebook. People Tweet their every whim on Twitter all day long. iPhone and Android phones allow you to sign in and let your friends know where you are. It was disclosed last year that iPhone’s track your every movement with GPS and secretly record the data.

Professionals and business people are posting their careers on LinkedIn in hopes of building business networks and enhancing their careers.

The Internet and Web 2.0 social media has created the popular sport of personal publication of our lives.

All of this data mining by advertisers directs ads at our computer screens and phones.

Did you ever notice that if you research a product on the internet, that product will start appearing in advertisements on other web pages? It’s not accidental. What you search is stored in cookies on your computer. Websites look for it there and target ads based on those searches.

If you Like a rock band or product on Facebook, expect to see ads on your Facebook pages for those products or artists. Advertising is being narrow-cast to suit what you said you like.

All of this information can be turned against you. People have had their careers destroyed when personal vacation pictures showed that what happens in Vegas doesn’t look so good in Peoria or Winnipeg.

Court cases are now using Facebook pictures to prove otherwise impossible facts about our lives. Insurance companies are using Facebook pictures or YouTube videos to decline claims for injury and disability.

Some of this is a generational issue. Gen Xers in their teens and 20s are often oblivious to how judgmental Baby Boomers and the legal system can be.

Attitudes towards sharing private information have changed, and probably forever as retiring boomers discover the ability to socialize online.

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