Melber, Ari About Facebook The Nation December 20, 2007 Link Accessed: 2009-01-23.

Contributor: vjp

Keywords: surveillance, social networking, Facebook, identity

Abstract: The social networking site Facebook is changing more then just how people interact and stay in touch, Facbook is changing the concept of ‘privacy’ while constructing a complacency, and expectation of surveillance. Privacy in Facebook is about controlling who has access to the personal information you make available on the site. Personal information might include photos, music, writings, videos etc. Privacy in Facebook is also about relinquishing your ownership to all the personal information you post on your site, “ everything that people post is automatically licensed to Facebook for its perpetual and transferable use, distribution or public display. The terms of use reserve the right to grant and sublicense all user content post on the site to other businesses.” Privacy in Facebook is not about keeping information private but rather controlling who you want to share it with. According to Melber, most Facebook users choose not to apply privacy controls thus sharing all their info with anyone curious or interested enough to look. For instance, employers use Facebook to investigate job applicants, law enforcement agencies use Facebook to investigate crime, to stake out suspects, and to find evidence, parents use Facebook to look in on their childern’s activities, and lots of people use Facebook just to see what others people are up to. This all equates to a form of surveillance. Traditionally, society rejects surveillance as intrusive, but in Facebook, the ability to surveil is a value-added feature, it is necessary, encouraged and desired. After all what good is a social network without the ability to be found by others and/or a to seek out friends or people and groups of interest. Melber warns that social networking sites are cultivating a society that accepts as normal, even desirable the idea of relinquishing control and ownership of personal information. Social networking sites may just be the biggest identify thefts ever.

For a more positive spin on social networking websites, see: Update Status: Facebook is ... Creating a communication revolution By Daniel S. Walber Mixed & Mashed Converge Special Issue 2008