Has Facebook Gone Evil?

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BUSAN, South Korea – Of my 667 "friends" on Facebook, I have actually met about 60% in person. I should delete more than a few, but for the time being I worry that whomever takes the plunge from the 666th position might be subject to a curse of some sort. I don't want to chance that so, I just let it go. 

Running a start-up magazine as I do, I often get added by strangers. I just click "accept" without much thought. Mostly as a courtesy to my friends, my "friends" and my friends of friends who are looking for more friends and friends of friends. I too am guilty of unsolicited friendivism. 

Aside of keeping up with local events and the minutiae of activity my friends and friends of friends are getting into, one of the genuine benefits of Facebook has been reuniting with several high school classmates from the one-stoplight town I grew up in and left right after graduation. 

Most of us haven't actually reunited beyond the virtual realm, but it is comforting to see that they have all aged about the same as me and that they have accumulated nearly as many friends and friends of friends on Facebook.

Interestingly, quite a few my old classmates have become close friends with God. A fair share posting Biblical passages with "hallelujah" written in upper case letters. While I am thrilled that they are learning words in a foreign language, I found it peculiar when a former classmate recently posted a picture of a Jesus Fish eating a Darwin Fish, to which one of his Facebook "likers" commented: "I LOVE iT!!! Jesus can swallow that small fish (of lies) anyday!! :-)"

I kinda figured Jesus would have been a vegetarian, (even though the crop-raising Cain got a short shrift in the good book) but the smiley face she added at the end was so pleasant. And I suppose her refrain from capitalizing the "i" in "iT" was to avoid being construed as worshiping the false idol of Information Technology. Which, is actually where I am headed with all this.

Facebook = Evil?

This past week has been a damning one for my FAFOFs and your FAFOFs as Facebook makes the inevitable corporate turn from friendly startup to evil doer (if I may quote Mr. Bush's phrase for people who do bad things beyond murdering their mother tongue).

According to the Wall Street Journal, in a 24-hour period last Thursday, the search term "how do i delete my facebook account” was among the top 20 trending searches on Google Hot Trends. And Friday morning “delete facebook account” made its way onto the list as well. 

Big names in the high-tech community, such as Google search-engine guru Matt Cutts and Engadget co-founder Peter Rojas, have recently announced that they were deactivating their Facebook accounts

So what gives? Are they too plagued by friend and friends of friends fanatics of some sort?

Perhaps, but the growing concerns amongst the Facebook "community" revolves around the issue of privacy and the increasing infringement thereof. This is nothing new, but oddly the high tech community and a growing number of Facebookers have suddenly hitched on to the bandwagon. 

It all started last year when Facebook announced that whatever you posted on the site suddenly belonged to them. At the time few of us read the fine print, but if you had, you would have seen Facebook taking the first step into the garden of evil. 

Their new policy in 2009 stated:

"You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service."

I like to think I am a pretty decent writer, but that is quite a piece of work. And it was only the beginning. According to the New York Times (who actually pays people to count) the privacy policy of Facebook eventually expanded to a whopping 5,830 words–outdoing the U.S. Constitution with it's meager 4,543 joinings of the English alphabet.

Adding injury to insult the "Privacy FAQ" section on Facebook now contains over 45,000 words.

To shore up their bets, in case you might actually read the fine print and attempt to curb the selling of your info to advertisers and demographers, the fine folks at Facebook have, according to The Times, designed the privacy control system so that "it is necessary to click through more than 50 privacy buttons, which then requires choosing among a total of more than 170 options." After you're done with that killer of an afternoon you have to go back and delete every word and every picture you ever posted if you want it to actually belong to you again.

That is just wrong and well…evil. 

Sadly enough, I am forced to stick with Facebook. Living here in Korea, there is no better way to keep up with what's going on with my FAFOFs. Who knows, perhaps I will someday surpass Michael Jackson and Homer Simpson who hold the 1 and 2 spots for most friends and friends of friends on the Facebook leviathan. 

I take comfort in knowing that there are only 400 million more FAFOFs left to "meet."

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Bobby McGill is the Executive Editor of Busan Haps Magazine. He can be reached at [email protected] and you can share your personal information with him and varied advertisers and demographers at facebook.com

For some interesting facts about Facebook check this out.

Founder/Editor-in-Chief

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