On Thursday January 6th, 2011, CNBC premiered their inside look at the social networking phenomenon Facebook with a documentary called “The Facebook Obsession“. It re-aired tonight and I watched it for a second time. I thought it’d be interesting to post about what they found and review the documentary as a whole.
Lately, it seems most media outlets only report on the negative aspects of Facebook, whether it be about privacy, the movie “The Social Network” or about Mark Zuckerberg’s past, everything seems so negative. The CNBC special did a great job of talking about the negatives and positives that Facebook has brought to the world.
I found that with almost every commercial break, the view of Facebook in the report jumped back and forth from positive to negative. They started with the story about a girl finding her real birth mother through Facebook, then the next segment talked about the Winklevoss twins and how Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea. As far as this story goes I have to be honest, I side with the character portrayed as Zuckerberg in the movie The Social Network, “if you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook”. These guys have already settled for $65 million, but now they’re taking Facebook back to court for more. Give me a break.
The next segment dealt with a teacher who had lost her position after 30 years for going on her Facebook page and posting ill-advised messages about her students. She was asked to re-sign and blamed the Facebook privacy settings for causing this. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. SHE decided to go and post about her students and get caught and she’s blaming Facebook. Also, I don’t believe Facebook changed anyone’s privacy settings. If you were set to “friends only” when you signed up, then you stayed as “friends only” when they made major setting changes.
We then came to Alana Joy, the woman who created “D-day” on Facebook. Not sure how many of you remember this, but earlier this year there was a campaign for people to stop using Facebook. According to the story, 6000 people signed up to “deactivate” not delete, deactivate their Facebook accounts. They didn’t say how many people actually did. They then show Alana taking over 2 hours deleting pictures from her Facebook, something she really didn’t have to do if all she was doing was deactivating. Once you deactivate, no one can see your profile, your posts or your pictures. I thought this part of the story was far too exaggerated.
Lastly, they tackled privacy head on. They talked about how Facebook is sharing people’s information with advertisers, which is true to a certain extent. What Facebook is sharing is your gender, age, education, interests and likes. To these advertisers you’re a number, not a name. It’s not like the advertisers know that Sebastian Agosta is interested in web design, they know that someone who is a male and the age of 25 is interested in web design. Again, something that has not only been exaggerated by this story, but also by the media and people in general. For those of you who think the rest of the sites you use daily like Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn aren’t using your general data to sell to advertisers, you are crazy.
They finished up the story asking the question of how far Facebook can really go and whether or not Mark Zuckerberg can continue to be the face of the company as well as it’s lead guy.
As you can clearly see, I’m mostly pro-Facebook. I don’t use it as much as most people but, I do check it daily. I feel that if you don’t want your information out there than you should probably set everything on there to “friends only” or get rid of your Facebook all together. At the end of the day, 550 million people are registered on Facebook. It’s a great source to connect with old friends, make new acquaintances and even generate business for yourself. If you choose not to use it, you’re missing out on something that is slowly but surely changing the way the web works and possibly changing the way the world works.