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    Op-Ed at Wired UK: Six reasons I’m avoiding Facebook

    The editor of Wired UK explains in an opinion column why he hasn’t joined social-networking services such as Facebook or Google Buzz, and his reasons include privacy concerns:

    My cautious use of the social networks has nothing to do with paranoia about privacy; and yes, I celebrate the unprecedented transparency and connectivity that these services can empower. But what’s increasingly bothering me is the wider social and political cost of our ever-greater enmeshment in these proprietary networks. Here are half a dozen reasons why.

    1 – Private companies aren’t motivated by your best interests
    Facebook and Google exist to make money, by selling advertisers the means to target you with ever greater precision. That explains the endless series of “privacy” headlines, as these unregulated businesses push boundaries to make it easier for paying third parties to access your likes, interests, photos, social connections and purchasing intentions. That’s why Facebook has made it harder for users to understand exactly what they’re giving away — why, for instance, its privacy policy has grown from 1,004 words in 2005 to 5,830 words today (by comparison, as the New York Times has pointed out, the US Constitution is 4,543). Founder Mark Zuckerberg once joked dismissively about the “dumb fucks” who “trust me”. I admire the business Zuckerberg’s built; but I don’t trust him. […]

    3 – Information you supply for one purpose will invariably be used for another…
    Phone up to buy a pizza, and the order-taker’s computer gives her access to your voting record, employment history, library loans — all “just wired into the system” for your convenience. She’ll suggest a tofu pizza as she knows about your 42-inch waist, she’ll add a delivery surcharge because a nearby robbery yesterday puts you in “an orange zone” — and she’ll be on her guard because you’ve checked out the library book Dealing With Depression. This is where the American Council for Civil Liberties sees consumerism going — watch its pizza video online — and it’s not to hard to believe. Already surveys suggest that 35 percent of firms are rejecting applicants because of information found on social networks. What makes you think you can control what happens to your personal data?

    4 – …and there’s a good chance it will be used against you
    Mark Zuckerberg would like to suggest that, in an ever more transparent world, “you have one identity — the days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly.” That suits his purpose — but in our multi-layered lives it’s just not true. A vindictive ex-partner, or a workplace rival, or a health insurer, or a political opponent, may selectively expose information to your detriment – powerfully re-framing your identity in a way you would consider dishonest.

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