Facebook, the friendly place to socialize, share your thoughts, post your photos and comments, is being very cautious these days after revealing to the world that cyberspace is not as private as you would like to think. Then again, if you are thinking at all, you would never imagine that anything in cyberspace is private (lest I digress)……..This morning on NBC’s Today Show , Matt Lauer interviewed the boy genius who launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room five years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Lauer, who is not the toughest interviewer in the business, asked Zuckerberg whether the social networking site really intends to retain perpetual ownership of everything posted on its servers as it had stated last week, tossing cyber geeks off their sofas and stirring a frenzy in the blogosphere.
Zuckerberg is no dummy. He went to Harvard and created the dumbest thing to ever revolutionize social communication, but he is not an idiot. He has very, very, good, highly paid lawyers coaching him.
The brouhaha started because Facebook said it was going to retain archival copies of content posted on FB, duh, every corporation has a data retention back-up. Yet, when the Facebook nation of 175-million users went crazy thinking that their soft-porn photos and world-class poetry would wind up in the hands of who-knows-what, Facebook did the damage control boogie. They modified the language by saying its privacy and use policy reaffirms that users, not Facebook, own the content they share through Facebook services and that Facebook’s permission to use that content expires when users delete the content or terminate their accounts.”
The side-step continued this morning when Lauer asked Zuckerberg no less than two times in five minutes what does it all mean? Zuckerberg stated, “None of that information will be shared with anyone going forward” and then again, just a minute later, added, “If you sign up for the site and then you decide that you want to take that information down, then none of that information will be shared with anyone going forward.”
If Lauer had any backbone as a hard-hitting journalist he would’ve put Zuckerberg on the spot and insisted he answer the question: “Is Facebook keeping all content posted on its site in a digital archive and if so, for how long?” But he didn’t and he changed the topic to Facebook’s profit potential. Zuckerberg was off the hot seat; his lawyers were breathing easier; and Facebook users could now raise stupid to a whole new level, believing that Facebook is not retaining a digital archive and will actually let its users have a say in private corporate governance. Maybe if each subscriber coughs up the $240-million that Microsoft did for a 1.6% share then that would make sense. As it stands, Facebook’s official press release on the issue says the “open comment” period will end March 29th and then Facebook will compile the data and revise policy yet again!
No one can be naïve enough to think that Facebook is cleansing its servers of data each time a tweenie breaks up with her boyfriend and deletes his photo or each time someone posts a controversial joke or statement. Just ask the three Westchester police officers , suspended yesterday, for their wall posts.
It is an Orwellian world we now live in and while social communication may be expanding, the liberties which Americans hold dear regarding free speech are imploding.
Personally, I’m off of Facebook for the next 40 days and nights. I have staff posting my blog. I think I’ll just go Twitter instead.