Monday, February 6, 2012

To Facebook or Not to Facebook--is there a question?

A few weeks ago, I read an article about people -- young ones-- who've chosen not to participate in Facebook. It doesn't say whether they take part in other social media like blogging or Twitter but my guess is not.

It got me thinking.

I'm a huge proponent of social media--but only the parts and the frequency that works for you. And, sorry if this sounds conceited, but I am one of the few who understood early on that social media is about conversations and sharing rather than blasting crap in other people's faces.

But of all the social media outlets I use, Facebook has been the most troubling.

Facebook's main problems, in my opinion, are two things: privacy and accounts. Facebook forces anyone who wants to have a public face (by public I mean published author, celebrity, or anyone else in the public, accessible domain) and still interact with people on a personal level to have Fan pages, which are clunky to use and administrate. Worse, if you want to interact with a certain set of people, like say colleagues and coworkers, and also keep a separate set of people like your drinking buddies, you can't.

Facebook will probably be the first to tell you that they aren't built for people with public and private lives--like authors--and yet authors and businesses use it. They have to. Well, MySpace certainly isn't doing anyone any favors! It's against Facebook's user policy to have two accounts, so you can't even try to keep separate circles through accounts. It's a huge failing in my opinion, and why I no longer use Facebook for my writing social media.

Recently I read this article by Andrew Keen about Facebook's "creepy" mode of revnue, which consists of sharing our personal data to advertiseres. Keen argues passionatley that "the impact of Facebook on our privacy is deeply worrying...Many other people are now worrying about Facebook's cult of radical transparency and its willful disregard for privacy." Keen reports that Mark Zuckerberg says how imp[ortant it that twh rold connect. But, Keen says, since "Facebook is a privately owned and for profit enterprise, existing for the benefit of its shareholders and employees, then connectivity benefits the company rather than us.

Openness, we need to always remember, is a self-serving Silicon Valley ideology rather than a self-evident public good."

This is certainly something to think about--and if I'm honest, it's been simmering at the back of my mind for some time. It's why I refuse to "allow" any apps to access my private information for any reason on Facebook, ever. It's why I no longer use  Facebook as part of my public online footprint--Sierra Godfrey the writer. It just doesn't afford me the kind of inner and outer sharing I'd prefer. For my private use of Facebook, I don't engage in any apps that access my info, and I have delisted myself from public view. But is Facebook ever really private?

Are there times when Facebook doesn't work for you? I can think of a few:
  • You don't want the artificial contact with friends--preferring the real deal to online
  • Your employer forbids it (my dad is a financial planner; his broker forbids all forms of social media unless he pays them to monitor it, lest he give free or incorrect advice I guess; it's one of the stupidest and most draconian let's-not-embrace-technology moves I've ever heard of)
  • You don't want to/are worried about connecting with old flames/friends/enemies.


Laura Pauling said...

That's interesting. I mean one of the lists of things you must create as an author is a Facebook Fan Page. Very interesting. I've never been super active on FB. So far I have a personal account which I have open to friends but not everyone, but I guess that defeats the purpose. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

I've never gotten onto FB nor do I ever want to. Not only for the reasons you listed, but the fact that there is so much other social media out there, my "fans" can find me somewhere else.

Diane Henders said...

I'm on FB, but I've got the privacy settings locked down and I never allow apps. The first time I got into FB and clicked an app, I couldn't believe it. "Yeah, you can have it, but you have to drop your pants first."

I don't think so.

I will probably set up a fan page in the next couple of weeks, too, just to have "a presence". It's all about showing up, right? :-)

JEM said...

I mainly use Facebook to post on other people's walls at this point. I don't share personal details like phone number, employment history, address, etc. I don't post about personal things, and when I do post it's mainly to share a funny thought that popped into my head. I don't trust Facebook either, and whenever I add info to Facebook, I first think if I would be okay if it got posted publicly online. Because I'm sure some day it will be.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

One of my new year's resolutions was to spend less time on Facebook - I was spending all my time making myself unhappy but stalking people I didn't like from my childhood, rather than interacting with my "friends." I never was much of a fan of telling Facebook much about me - not even the basic demographics. So I've only logged in once or twice this year, and only for a short period of time, and I don't miss it. I find linkedin by far the most valuable social network right now.

Steven J. Wangsness said...

I resisted Facebook for a long time, on principle (the principle being that everyone else was doing it), and only set up an account as the epub date for "Tainted Souls" approached, cuz everyone says you need one to flog your book. I don't have a fan page -- how do you do that? Don't know how I'll handle it down the line.

Cathryn Leigh said...

As I don't get a lot of face time with friends. I seem to be good at friending people who live far away by various means... go figure, I use facebook; however like you I don't allow any of the apps, no matter how curious I might be. My husband's in Computer security, he's drilled a few things into my head.

As to the whole not having multiple accounts? there are a lot of people who do. Kids who have one for their friends and one for their parents (some grown-up too).

When it comes to having an author fan page... I'm going to have to figure things out, becasue facebook is how the grandparents see the latest pictures of the grand kids and, as I mentione before, I keep in touch with the frineds I can't see.

It's all crazy in my opinion.
:} Cathryn

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

The ONLY reason I got a FB account is so I could access up-to-date pictures of my grandchildren. What I dislike about FB is all the guys showing up who suddenly want to "friend" me ... guys I don't know ... some I went to school with fifty years ago and didn't know THEN. Why in the world would I want to "friend" them now??? (Especially the creepy ones whose main interest is "women.")

Sierra Godfrey said...

This is a great discussion here in the comments, guys. Thanks everyone for commenting.

I'm curious that so many of us feel that Facebook is a requirement of the author toolkit. Normally I'm in favor of using any tool that connects you to readers--after all, why make it hard for them? But does Facebook really make it much easier? Maybe the cost is too high. For myself, I use Twitter for more personal engagement.

Meghan Ward said...

I love FB. I love getting friend's updates and connecting with old classmates, etc. It has it's problems (like you said, you can't post to select groups of people like you can on Google+), but until more people start using Google+ (which is happening, slowly), I'll keep using Facebook.

MJones said...

I don't really follow author pages at Facebook unless they don't have a website. I feel like the Facebook Page is a replica of everything you see at the website. If I have to choose, I'd rather read it at the website.

I don't and probably won't have an author facebook page. I do have a personal page, of which I don't share many personal things. IMO the only way to keep things private, truly, is to not put it online. They're never going to ask your permission to sell you or to share how their customers use their site. Limiting what I put on line controls a bit of that.

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