Is It Too Late for Anyone to Take Anything Back?

I stumbled across this link to The Consumerist’s post about Facebook’s revised terms of service earlier this evening, and I also read a few of the responses to it, and the responses to those responses.  Suffice it to say, even though they claim they would never do anything to hurt you, the loyal user, I am glad that I have never “uploaded” anything to Facebook.

The question that this fiasco raises for me is this: are we COMPLETELY deluding ourselves to think that there is any information left out there that we can share with nearly anyone, in nearly any capacity, that is also still somehow under our control?  With the possible exception of information you share with your lawyer or with a medical professional, what hope could you possibly have?

The fact is, creating a profile about yourself, the things you like, things you do, and places you go, but also desiring anonymity are mutually exclusive ideas.  You can’t have both, and you sort of need to get over that.  While I have railed against the Facebook in the past, I don’t begrudge the people that are on it.  But as a user, you have to know that you have not only ticked a checkbox to an agreement that you never actually read; you have also signed a social contract that says, “OK, world– I don’t have much to hide.  You’re going to find certain things out, and I’ll have to deal with the consequences.”

Every one of us who has talked on a cell phone, or filled out a survey, or used any sort of web-based service has given something up.  We’ve passed the point of thinking we can get it back.  If that makes comfortable, it’s a life lesson; but that person is no victim.  Make no mistake; the world is shrinking.  There is less you can keep hidden all the time, and so if that’s what you really want, be diligent about it.  But if you sign up for a FREE service whose goal is to CONNECT PEOPLE WITH ONE ANOTHER, then you are surrendering some of those rights to complain.

Sometimes I teeter on the edge of saying “to hell with it, just take all the data and information that I have, there’s no way I can protect it.”  But another part of me wants to toil in the face of futility, and that part takes comfort in the fact that I could unplug my server tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “Is It Too Late for Anyone to Take Anything Back?”

  1. You raise a compelling argument.
    I would also point out that there are certain things I really don’t want people to know about me but are generally public domain…if you know where to look. Kind of apple and oranges in regards to this observation, but still something to think about.

    1. I think your comment is more relevant to this topic than you might realize– after all, what has made even public records so much more accessible than ever before? The ‘tubes, my friend; it is the ‘tubes.

      All manner of information available in a search-able format at the touch of a button. This is what we want, right?

      1. I’m quite the proponent to open source information. It’s a lot like your explanation of Linux and how sharing all the info, in theory, makes for a more intelligent society as a whole.

        Of course, we also run the risk of making our society the dumbest ever to exist with these new “tools”. This is why I shun electronic social networking, I see no redeeming value in it. And also I’m a hermit.

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