Before Coffee: Facebook’s Forced Voyeurism

April 27, 2016 § Leave a comment

I use Facebook to keep in touch with my friends and share interesting or funny things, but I really don’t like Facebook. And I especially don’t like the way it forces me to be a Peeping Tom.

I liked the old Facebook, back when everything in my feed appeared in chronological order and the only things I saw were the things my friends posted.

Then came the ads. I’m actually okay with the ads; I don’t pay to use Facebook, so they have to generate money somehow. If ads keep Facebook free, I’m all for them.

But what I’m very much not okay with are the things I see from people I don’t know. A friend of a friend changes her profile photo, and our mutual friend likes it, and suddenly I’m seeing it in my feed. Or she posts an intensely personal story about something that happened to her, and our mutual friend comments, and now I’m reading something I’m not sure she wanted shared with strangers.

What’s more, I don’t understand why Facebook does it. It doesn’t make them money. I can’t believe the bulk of their users like it—it’s an invasion of privacy, after all. And people like privacy, or at least they say they do.

A friend of mine once wrote a (sadly, unpublished) novel set in a future that took the idea of transparency to the extreme. Walls were transparent, clothes were transparent, and cameras were everywhere and always watching. At one point, the main characters stumble into an area with opaque walls and no cameras, and they feel intensely uncomfortable that they aren’t being watched.

It sounds ludicrous, but the path from normal to ludicrous is paved with baby steps. Perhaps everyone having lives that are open (Face)books is one of those steps. Nobody wants it, but we’re all so addicted to Facebook that we accept it as part of the user cost, the way we accept the ads.

This is how privacy ends; not with a bang, but with a shrug.

I’ve started pushing back by using the “hide all from this person” feature constantly, but it’s Whack-a-Mole with a billion moles and only one mallet. And the losers are the moles, whose privacy Facebook is forcing me to invade.

Stop making me feel like a creeper, Facebook.



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