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Facebook isn’t evil, you’re just dumb.

Well folks, it’s that time of the month again…

No, not that time,  the other, more annoying time.  You know, when everybody freaks out about Facebook stealing their information or something.  I don’t even know what the actual issue is this time, but I do know that posting a copyright claim on your wall isn’t going to do diddly squat.

You see, when you started your Facebook account, you agreed to their terms and conditions, and your continued use of Facebook, means you continue to agree to their terms and conditions.  This means that if they want to use that status update where you told everybody how much you love your new car to sell said brand of car to your friends, they will do so.  It doesn’t matter how many times you quote copyright law to them because you already gave them permission to use it.

For some reason, people don’t seem to understand how Facebook works.  They seem to think that it’s a free service since they aren’t giving them a credit card.  Facebook isn’t free, it costs a crap ton of money to run and maintain.  Every developer and admin needs paid, there is the cost of bandwidth and servers, rent for their offices, and all the staff that goes along with running a business.  Facebook probably spends more money in one day just on operational costs than you make in a year.

You may not be paying them with money, but you are paying them with your content and data.  Understand this, to you, Facebook is a fun way to interact with friends and play stupid games, but to them, Facebook is a highly targeted marketing machine.  They will use every bit of information about you that they can to target you with the right ads and find ways to make those ads more appealing to you.

But the thing is, you are still in control.  You set how your info is shown, you choose who sees it. You just have to be smart about it.

  • Check your privacy settings. Make sure you only have what you want to be public as set as public. Don’t let people tag you without asking. Only let friends read your updates.
  • Now don’t trust those privacy settings. Sure, you made it so your boss can’t read about how much you hate work or think he’s a prick, but that doesn’t stop him from seeing it when someone else leaves Facebook open. Don’t use Facebook to talk behind someones back. All you are doing is setting up a paper trap that will be discovered some day.
  • This really means that you shouldn’t put anything online if you really want it to be private. This goes for any website really. How many people have been accidentally brought out of the closet thanks to Facebook? How many people get arrested after bragging about crimes they committed? You may think its private, but once you share it with one person, it’s not really a secret anymore, and Facebook is a lot more than one person.

Your privacy settings are there to keep information you don’t mind getting out right away.  The most top-secret thing you should be discussing on any social networking site are plans for a surprise party.

If you really don’t like what Facebook says, then move on to something else.  Don’t think it’s possible for an empire like Facebook to fall, well look at MySpace.  Where ever you go though, you are still going to see copyright and privacy notices.  They will still lay claim to anything you post to their website, at the least, they need it to be able to show it to other users.