It doesn’t seem right that my first post in more than a month should be a quasi-rant, but here we go.
(I have been dragging my feet on a new post, trying to write up our trip reports from Rome, Florence, and Venice, but that’s going even more slowly than the transatlantic flights seemed to. Hoping to get those done sometime this week so you can read my odes to great Italian wine and cheese, observations about crazy Italians, and gratitude for American showers.)
Why does Mark Zuckerberg have to keep changing a good thing?
I joined FB sometime in late 2007 or early 2008, and I really started to love it later that year, when a critical mass of my friends found their way to the site. I liked seeing everyone’s pictures without having to login into Snapfish or Kodak. I liked reading random observations in the form of status updates (though then, as now, I could have done without the updates on “I’m at the grocery store.”). I especially liked reconnecting with people I hadn’t talked to since high school or college — it was like an instant reunion, only without having to worry about wearing a cute outfit. Dozens of our family members joined, too, which meant that the cousins didn’t necessarily have to rely on the traditional sister network to find out family news. FB closed some of the physical distance I felt from so many of my family and friends.
A few times a year, it seemed like FB messed with the privacy settings — enabling ads to access your photos, or to suggest automatic tagging. Every time, I redoubled my efforts, setting my privacy controls ever tighter, not just to protect myself, but also B, given his line of work. I never post about work — and certainly not in the negative light that some of my co-workers do — but nevertheless, most of the people I work with see a significantly limited version of my profile, and almost no pictures. I de-tagged myself in a lot of pictures, especially any albums that B might also appear in and that people would be able to click through.
With those controls in place — even knowing that FB was tracking me through cookies, evident through the beagle, shoe store and health insurance ads that dot my profile — I felt relatively comfortable posting. I was never one of those multiple-times-a-day posters, but I’d post about tv, books, fun weekends, plus some links and pictures.
Then this newest update came. It’s official: Mark Zuckerberg, I hate you.
I’m sure there are some virtues to the new design, but I can’t find them in the midst of the stupid ticker, chat invitations and confusing news feed that gives me a lot of news I’m not interested in while missing the news I’d actually like to read.
My greater concern, though, and ultimately the one that’s turned me mostly into a Facebook reader: privacy. I can’t tell whether my privacy controls still work, and I’m just not willing to test it. I don’t trust anymore that my privacy trumps sales opportunities for FB the corporation — maybe I never should have — or that I’ll be able to figure out the complicated maze of privacy settings that will keep my pictures from popping up in the tickers of people whose FB invites I’ve repeatedly ignored.
I’m not ready to turn away from FB entirely — at least not yet. I still like reading updates (to the extent that my news feed is giving me the right ones) and seeing pictures (to the extent that other people are still posting them). But for me? No more personal posts, or any pictures.
I realize that may seem like a strange position to take for someone who has written about highly personal topics on this blog for the last 1.5 years. But as much as I like seeing my posts get hits, I’ve opted to block this blog from search engines, and my face and (last) name aren’t plastered all over it. I’m not under an illusion of complete privacy, but it’s got to be at least a little better — right?
OK, don’t answer that — but feel free to offer up any commiserations or suggestions on how to handle the new FB — short of a mass defection to Google+ (Sergey Brin, I don’t trust you, either).
Until then, I’ll see you back in the 20th century on Snapfish.