Facebook users who complain about privacy can go Twitter themselves

I love Facebook. I just hate people who use Facebook. (Ignore the Facebook widget located on the left side of the screen with my face on it.)

The social network phenomenon is doing damage control in response to user complaints about sometimes cryptic changes to the site’s privacy policy that allow third parties access to users’ personal information, including friends, current city or hometown and music preferences.

A Facebook user complaining about a lack of privacy is like a priest joining the church and complaining about the celibacy. Of course, Facebook is selling people’s personal information. That is how they make money. Facebook monetizes your personal information and sells it to business partners like Pandora and Microsoft to create highly targeted ad campaigns.

Those who complain about privacy on Facebook show they’re almost as technologically savvy as the Amish. How did you think Facebook financed your hours of stalking friends from high school? (There is a reason why people don’t stay in touch with their high school classmates — they don’t like them. If I wanted to know what my basketball teammates where doing these days, I would go to McDonald’s.) Users complaining about this alleged breach of privacy do not care about privacy. They are some of the same self-centered hypocrites who willingly divulge — and sometimes over-divulge — every waking second of their pathetic lives.

The exodus of users fleeing Facebook and the hype surrounding the changing privacy controls is out of control. Congress was able to pass the Patriot Act, which granted the government unprecedented access to your library records, bank accounts and other sensitive information, with little opposition. But when a social networking site fosters the kind of interconnectivity that will define the next era of the web, users overreact more than a teenage girl at the premiere of a new “Twilight” movie.

Facebook is expanding so fast they have been forced to navigate uncharted ethical waters as they try to remain profitable — a problem that has doomed so many other companies on the web. In a world built on the assumption that information has to be transferred at no cost, Facebook is challenging that paradigm, and doing it quite successfully. More online businesses, especially newspapers, should follow its lead.

Spending upward of four, five or even six hours a day on these sites, many people — whose fingertips must be bleeding from the imbecilic exchanges they have online — display why Facebook has become so successful: It is more addictive than crack. According to Time Magazine, more than one in four people who browse the Internet have a Facebook account, and more importantly, they have visited the site in the last month, explaining why it is a gold mine for advertisers.

A mere six years after Facebook’s creation, the site is on the verge of eclipsing the 500 million user mark. If Microsoft made computers user friendly and if Google made the world’s information easy to access, then Facebook and Twitter are making that wealth of information user friendly. The technology that propels social networking is phenomenal, redefining how people consume information and communicate in the process. Unfortunately, these tools have been hijacked by egomaniacs who indulge in the kind of self-love reserved for celebrities on the brink of relapsing.

No matter what your personal settings on Facebook happen to be, there is no privacy on Facebook. Anyone who is a friend of one of your friends can probably view your personal information. If you don’t want someone to know something about you, don’t post it on a website capable of disseminating that information to the entire Facebook community.

Ultimately, you have total control of your online pseudo-self and how much information you choose to disclose. Facebook executives care about your status updates about as much as I do — not at all.

And if you don’t like this column, don’t write anything on my Facebook page. I’m too busy ignoring you.


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