BY Matthew Hays
November 24 2009 2:30 PM ET
Isn't Facebook just another way for people to connect?
own websites and e-mail, where our connections to each other are
relatively direct, Facebook positions itself between people and allows
us to connect only at its pleasure. As intermediary it can control our
discourse and manipulate what we really should have established as our
own social networks. Privately owned communities are not communities.
LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Hotmail, Gmail, etc. all have
exactly the same systemic flaw: The problem is not social networking,
it is proprietary social networking. The distinction is not subtle. We
choose not to connect with others at Facebook and the like for the same
reason that we choose not to holiday in North Korea.
What are your
main privacy concerns regarding the information that people post on
Facebook's "who can see what" check boxes will never
restrict Facebook. When you upload your entire address book to
shenanigans like Facebook, ostensibly to "find friends," it is your
betrayal of everyone who trusted you with their e-mail address. They
will at the least receive incessant spam-vitations to sign up that all
appear to be from you. I post personal information at my website, but I
do so at my own domain, Harmsen.net, so no unaccountable body can
manipulate, censor, threaten, or banish me. The only real control you
have at Facebook.com is to manually transcribe any e-mail addresses,
copy any important messages out of Facebook's pseudo-e-mail, remove what
you can, "deactivate," and then log out forever. I could find no option
to actually delete my account, and even if I had, I would have no reason
to trust it. The privacy commissioner of Canada is on Facebook's case
about that. Facebook's vague “terms” are not worth the virtual page on
which they are written and have no practical meaning or value to you or
What has Facebook's response been to your public statements?
Nothing. Facebook is too busy digesting the 600,000 souls who join each day at
their peril. As Facebook toys with people's identities, I toy with
Facebook in my arguments about the adult topic of ownership. The issue
of ownership pervades my artistic practice that includes among other
things a series of digital abstracted figurative oil paintings, many of
which are based on images from profiles on gay dating websites.
Facebook responded to those with censorship.