The Facebook Empire Ends Here

The Colosseum or Roman Coliseum
Image by Northfielder

Perhaps you have seen the latest Facebook news. Three new evolutions were revealed: Commitments to continue selling personal data; a revised Like effort that turns Likes into full content shares; and a revamped comment system for blogs and web sites using Connect that in essence publishes those comments on a unique Facebook page. In summary, the Facebook Empire extended its tentacles further outside of its walls to drive external content in, own that content per its user guidelines, and continue exploiting users’ data.

The Facebook Empire is not welcome here.

As an Internet user and reader of this blog, it’s time to make some commitments to you. These new commenting tools will not be implemented on this blog. Your comments will not appear in Facebook unless you want to post them there. Your privacy and information remains safe, per the site’s privacy guidelines. When you share a post here on Facebook, it is intentional, not because you gave a post a thumbs up.

Privacy remains a primary concern given Facebook’s abusive attitude towards user data. As Gini Dietrich blogged last week, there is a real expectation gap between people providing information with Facebook’s tools, and the social network’s use of that data.

Facebook has an opt-out attitude, meaning they place you in a service, use your data, and assume that if you hate it, you’ll opt out. There is no request for permission. Given that laissez-faire attitude, who knows how comments from this blog and others will be used in aggregate?

Facebook’s shady privacy policies are prompting Federal Trade Commission reports, and suggested legislation. But the government won’t be able to stop Facebook for some time. It’s on us. Many people have pointed out that the ease of use and an existing 600 million user base will be too tempting to overcome. Such is the lure of the Facebook attention monopoly.

The attitude that this and many other blogs should be an extension of Facebook was just disturbing. Facebook wants all of the conversation and activity on the Internet to occur on its social network. If this is what readers want, they should feel welcome to share the link and have the conversation. Yet, owning all commentary on this site takes empire building one step too far.

For this very same reason, creative content generators should not publish on Facebook directly. Thanks to its user guidelines, the social network is automatically granted a license for the content. Content producers should use secondary services such as a blog, a video site or a photo site, and link back in if protecting copyright is an issue. Beyond the legal reasons, strategically, never let Facebook replace your web site.

This is one very small site in the grand scheme of the social web. The Facebook Empire ends here, though. The monopolistic actions have gotten too scary. Past and current behavior only indicates that blog comment data will be used in the worst ways, for commercial purposes and to further lock in as many users as possible onto Facebook. This site is free from such machinations.

What do you think of Facebook’s ever extending reach?