There’s plenty of reason for genuine concern over internet privacy. Not one of the servers that contains your personal data is completely impregnable if it is connected to the Internet (though certainly some–like your bank’s–are safer than garden variety web sites).
It’s not surprising then that Facebook has come in for tremendous criticism for its privacy policies. The company is either audacious in its vision or contemptuous of its users, or both. Each month brings news of another way the company has conceived to share your personal data widely with potential marketing partners. Clearly, Facebook management feels that the tradeoffs between security and convenience, which we described in a recent column here will work themselves out in the company’s favor. Customers won’t want to give up the convenience of having photos, birth dates and tools for communicating all in one place. The company may be right. For many users, being off Facebook would feel like exile or ostracism.
I like to think of it in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Facebook feeds the need for love and acceptance. Privacy concerns, for most people, are theoretical at this point, stuck in the realm of morality at the top of Maslow’s pyramid. Unless sharing personal data on social media sites becomes a common threat to physical safety, a more fundamental need, it’s unlikely that it’s popularity will diminish soon. In the meantime, many pundits are finding good reasons to leave Facebook anyway. Here’s Ten Reasons to leave Facebook now.