“Can you guys give us a list of every friend you’ve ever had? In alphabetical order, please.” This question, posed by a pair of geeky guys to two blondes, is part of a great satire of Facebook put together by the Australian show Hungry Beast. The video makes you stop and think about just how much personal information Facebook is learning about our friends, our families, and our lives — information most of us would never share with a stranger.
We shouldn’t have to choose between participating in an increasingly essential social community and keeping control of our personal information.
Today Facebook has 500 million users. So many of us use the service to communicate and connect about everything, from commenting on our daily activities to announcing engagements and sharing photos of newborns to participating in political activism. Our willingness to do that is what has made the company so successful and catapulted Mark Zuckerberg from an unknown Harvard undergrad to Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
The more we share on Facebook, the more important its privacy settings become. Few people want that goofy Halloween photo to be the first thing that pops up whenever someone Googles them, or are happy if our colleagues and every future employer can learn our religious and political beliefs. We all deserve to make those choices ourselves rather than learn that someone else has made them for us.