This is an addendum to the "position statement" I wrote about Facebook and other social media on May 7.
Facebook is being demonised on the intertubes and even the mainstream media over the Zuckerbergian approach to online privacy. The tragic death of an eighteen year-old girl in western Sydney last week happened, it is alleged, after a meeting with a man arranged via Facebook. May 31 has been designated as "Quit Facebook" day - an event which should reduce the number of Facebook account-holders worldwide from 500 million to, oh, about 499.5 million.
I won't be quitting Facebook any time soon, for the simple reason that, professionally, I have to stay put. One reason, consultancy. Another, I actually administer Facebook groups and pages as part of the online production that I do. The call of using or not using Facebook in those instances is not mine.
But personally, I have eliminated a lot of data and linkages from my Facebook account and locked down the visibility of most of that which remains. I removed myself from all fan pages and am only, very selectively, adding myself to new ones (for example, one which facilitates a simple(r) way to monitor your Facebook privacy settings). I have also set up customised friend lists so that I can make postings (notably, Twitter cross-feeds) to those friends to whom they apply.
There are signs in the past couple of days that Facebook is finally responding to all of its bad press of late. But it's also fair to say that it is suffering a bit from being a "tall poppy". Its privacy settings, however maligned, are still better than those of a myriad of smaller organisations out there. Though few of those smaller organisations attract as much universal trust as has Facebook. A good solution here would be for Mark Zuckerberg to do what all good founders do when they creation is fully grown - walk away.
With the regard to the murder case, the accused is still awaiting trial and so many facts are still not known, though there have been media reports alleging meetings through an online dating service prior to the liaison via Facebook. The real issue here is being damn careful what information you put on the net and think carefully about how it can all be assembled together.
Alternatives to Facebook? I'm keeping my eye out for Diaspora.