Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why Not Lie on Facebook?

I don't know what it is about me. Maybe I'm just an asshole looking to make life difficult for others. Market researchers want to get inside my head so they can show me relevant ads. Cut through the crap and target me with commercials for things I might by for reasons I care about. I can see they want to help me, so why do I insist on throwing wrenches in Helpbot's gears?

Switching gears.
The "social networking site" Facebook is collecting information about its members. In return, we get a personal internet, filled with friends. What's the big deal? It's free! Shouldn't they be allowed to collect anonymous information? Doesn't hurt me if they know how many people have birthdays in December. Or how many people listed Night as their favourite books.

Think of all the text on there. Facebeast can step back, run a search, and look at the buzz. They know what words are most often used, what ads people most often click on, what products are most often mentioned. Information that market researchers will pay for, assuming it's reliable.

Facebook has the delicate job of informing its users that they want more access to our behviours without scaring us away. Everyone's worried that Facebook is going to "own their photos" or "own their blog posts". Facebook doesn't give a shit about owning those things. They're not going to publish your stuff and claim it as their own -that would cause a massive exodus. What they do want (and have) is access to what we click on and what we write about.

We're all worried that people are reading our facebook messages and laughing at our grammar. Truth is, they don't give a shit about individuals, the money is in the group. They want your gender, age, occupation, location, and they want to know where that fits into consumer patterns. There is no TV without commercials. There is no Facebook without access to your information.

Bring me to my point -took me long enough.

Why not lie on Facebook?
I firmly believe that Facebook's power (over social network sites like MySpace) was pressuring people to use their real names. No one's going to pay for ad info about all the 101 year old 5cm tall MySpace profiles. Facebook is much more reliable. Funny. Why don't we lie? What psychological power keeps people in check, using their real names when they sign up for things online? Our friends already know our birthday and gender what keeps us from switching them?


Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

There are four reasons I use my real name on Facebook:

(1) So real friends can find & recognize me.

(2) So friends will not be confused when they see my updates, or comments and messages from me.

(3) So I don't look like some paranoid freak.

(4) I haven't seen a reason that it hurts me to use my real name.

I've seen quite a few people use fake names on Facebook and I find it confusing and bizarre. I always assume they have some sordid reason for hiding.

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

p.s. If Facebook didn't have a way to lock down my profile from public view, I would probably use an obviously-not-real username, like I do on my blog.