Facebook is Not Your Friend
Much ado was made recently over the historic Facebook IPO and by now most of us have found it was much ado about nothing. Plagued by disappointing results and lawsuits, Facebook is still far from losing money. Nearly 850 million users have made Facebook worth approximately $75 billion. An extraordinary amount of money for a company whose only inventory is its users and their digital data. Users give much to Facebook, yet get little in return. And sometimes what we do get is more than what we bargain for.
How Facebook Is Getting Rich Off Users
We willingly share photographs, home towns, phone numbers, email accounts and relationship information. We publicly like television shows, music groups, movies, books, companies, organizations, charities, causes and events. And what does Facebook do with all of this information? They sell it of course.
Facebook makes money by selling advertising space to companies who want to market their products to users and we couldn’t be more accommodating. Facebook generated $3.2 billion in advertising revenue from its data inventory in 2011.
Facebook Could Be Costing You Jobs, Credit and More
Many employers are turning to Facebook when considering job applicants. The high unemployment rate means many more people competing for jobs. A quick look at a candidate's Facebook posts can mean the difference between being hired or being passed over.
Companies like Credit Karma uses algorithms to gather social data for financial institutions. By assessing your social interactions on Facebook, these companies can tell banks whether you’re likely to engage in certain risky behaviors. Insurance companies are using these services as well. Often, banks and insurance companies cut out the middle man altogether by friending potential customers directly. Colleges and universities also often turn to Facebook when making admissions decisions.
While financial and educational institutions can’t use any data related to race, marital status or receipt of public assistance because it’s illegal for them to do so, they can use your social interaction via posts, comments and photos.
Facebook is Profiling You
Some critics say Facebook is also enabling gender and socio economic profiling. Users who reside in statistically poorer neighborhoods may find themselves flooded with ads for trade schools instead of prestigious universities. Women are often shown ads for cosmetics, diet trends and celebrity tabloids.
How to Show Facebook Who’s Boss
Users can easily counteract Facebook’s sneaky behavior in several ways. Set your privacy settings appropriately. It’s now possible to change who sees your profile and posts. For example, if you don’t want a potential employer to view your questionable photos then be sure to change your settings to close friends.
Consider carefully before liking companies, organizations, etc.
Don’t feel as though you have to accept every friend request you receive. Ignore or deny requests from people you don’t know.
Limit who can see your past posts. The new Timeline design now makes it possible for embarrassing older posts to come back to haunt you. Change your privacy settings to limit who has access to these old-but-not-dead posts.
Last but not least, if you’ve really had enough of Facebook and its greedy, nosey, tell all behavior then do what more and more users are doing – deactivate or permanently delete your Facebook profile. But prepared for the possibility of going into Facebook withdrawal.