Thursday, February 19

The Unconsidered Implications of Uploading

There's been a lot of flap about Facebook's daring change in Terms of Service this week, most of it a step behind what's actually happened. For most of us it had all been done before, Google's Chrome being the last to fall foul of idiotic God-like claims to our content. And like Chrome, even the mighty Facebook had to back down. Whether they originally knew what they were actually asking for is still up for debate; I for one think the distribution argument is a cop out. And just in case you didn't know, most content driven sites lay some kind of rights to the content you create or upload to them. They almost have to by definition. The problem I have is that this whole news story, and the frenzy we've all whipped up, is totally missing the point.

This Wired article concisely and clearly explains what happened and what needs to be done next, but the real message is in the comments; in short: "You either sign up & lose privacy, or you don't sign up at all. Is that simple.". Anyone thinking otherwise is being terribly naive; even if a website's intention is for the best, that alone will not stop bad things from happening. How many pictures have you accidentally seen on Facebook that you know was probably not intended for your eyes?

I hate to say I told you all so, but I blatantly did. To be frank I don't care whether someone puts pictures of themselves up on the Internet or not, but I don't think anyone has the right to compromise the privacy of others so flippantly. It's almost on par with Governmental "Big Brother" invasion of privacy which we often complain about. There's no difference between the two if neither considers your wishes.

To be fair I don't blame the people; well not directly anyway. Technology is moving so fast that people are failing to educate themselves - they literally know not what they do. Without being too dramatic it's actually disrespectful of the power such a global network like the Internet puts in your hands. At least one good thing about this Facebook fiasco is that people now have a clue, some idea of the implications that their actions have. On the other hand, there are very few of us (I hope) who would freely create multiple hard copies of their holiday/party snaps and send them to all they know either. There's no real justification for doing this over the wires either, yet we so easily do.

The solution is to make a change to your assumptions - instead of thinking that there's a small chance that the things you release into the wild will reach the attention of people they're not supposed to, think that they most definitely will at some stage. Expect the worst, even if it means compromising your lazy little attention-seeking social network and maybe then you'll not worry about a website claiming the inevitable truth - that once you tell someone a secret, it's no longer yours to keep any more anyway.

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