Facebook Getting in Your Face

Facebook is ticking off a lot of people with their lack of sincerity regarding our privacy, but are 400 million of us willing to go “cold turkey” and give up our drugs?

In Your Face

Ever since the beginning of the Internet (Cloud) there’s been big issue about who owns the digital rights to photos, video, stories, messages, and contact data bases. First it was the Web designer who didn’t get paid and turned off the company’s Web site. Then there were people copying text and images and using them for commercial purposes. This gave way to watermarking and Creative Commons. Then was concern about Google reading your Gmail Emails for their extremely effective contextual advertising. Then it was privacy and medical records, which led to the 1996 Health Privacy Act. Then in the late 1990’s there was considerable concern about the loss of credit card information by participating in ecommerce. We’ve also seen similar concerns with corporations and employees as to who actually owns your emails.


But all of this has always worked itself out. There is participation in sharing personal and financial data in the Cloud, then there’s a recognition that it might be compromised, then there are steps, laws, and acts taken to prevent or at least reduce the possibility of this potentially harmful information leaking out to either hackers or to the public and we all breathe a sign a relief and we move on to the next shiny object.

Facebook, at least so far seems to behaving with our data. When Facebook and Google use personal data to serve up a contextual advertisement, I’m glad; it’s SPAM served the way I like it! If I am going to have spam with my spam, then don’t show me E.D. ads, at least not yet. I’ll let them know when that advertising becomes appropriate. If I am writing about the new iPad, or searching on keywords about it, then it’s O.K. to tease me with ads to buy it. I expect it and that’s what I’ve sign up for. It’s not intrusive or surprising.

Facebook’s more powerful contextual ads using Open Graph, Like Buttons, and Peer recommendations will become more effective than even Google’s Contextual Advertising, and more profitable. While Google still holds the title for the Largest Search Engine In The World”, right behind Google in the number two spot is YouTube, and Facebook running a close third. As Facebook’s membership continues to from so will it’s search and it’s advertising revenue.

Facebook has done a great job at looking at what social tools are most popular in this brave new world of social media and has duplicated and included them in Facebook. That’s smart engineering and smart marketing. The fact that Facebook will soon exceed 400 million members shows that they know what people want and know how to deliver it in a fun and intuitive design. That has been Steve Job’s secret sauce for more than 3 and 1/2 decades; know what people want before they do and deliver it in an intuitive elegant design. Jobs has a history for doing this from the Apple //, the GS, the Macintosh, Pixar, iPod, and now the new iPad.

What these two geniuses are distributing are drugs; they’re “dealers”. The drugs that Facebook is pushing is Serotonin and Endorphin. These are tough to compete with. These are the “feel good” drugs; the ones that make us relaxed, satiated, and happy. Facebook releases the same two drugs that eating, laughing, and sex releases. Connecting up again with an old friend, colleague, high school sweetheart, looking at photos of the grand kids, listening to a favorite song, or just sharing ideas, thoughts or something funny, gets us a little high. It’s these drugs that are responsible for videos and emails going viral. Think about it. What is the most common email that you pass along to a friend, colleague, or family member? Funny, right? Serotonin and Endorphin, and you want to be the dealer, be responsible for making your friends feel good.

Knowing this, it’s easy to understand why Facebook has a greater membership population than every country in the world, bar only two. Facebook just keeps serving up ways to get high. So we as the participants in this interaction need to not T.U.I.; or Type Under the Influence. We need to have some common sense about what information we post in the Cloud, whether it’s in the profiles of our trusted social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, on their pages themselves, on our blogs and Web pages, and what we Tweet. Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail” points out that “What Happens in Vegas Stays On Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs, etc.” Chris’ accurate observation is that once you put something on the Internet it’s never “safe” and it’s always there.


We as cyber-citizens have to take some responsibility to filter the information we put on public social sites. Everything you enter into the Internet has to be assumed will someday be available to the public. My html Web sites along with everyone else’s are archived at Just a couple of years ago, you could simply go to Type in and see EVERY iteration of my Web site with all of it’s pages going all the way back to my first Web site in 1995. They must have purged some data and now it only goes back to 2001. That’s still every Web page for every iteration for a DECADE!

I have always kept that in mind. Whenever I design a Web page, write a blog, leave a comment, I am sensitive to what I make public. I call it the separation of church and state or more accurately, the separation of public information and my private information. At the writing of this article, I currently have 147,000+ Google links to me personally, 147,000 SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages). Nowhere in any of these pages will you find my wife’s name, my kids names, my dogs names or even if I have any dogs. You will find my office telephone number, my email address and an amazing amount of data and information on social media, my books, and innovation. The reason I have a huge public profile and no private one, is simple common sense.

I agree that we need to monitor social sites, ecommerce, blogs, and all things Cloud related and most importantly, hold the owners of these sites accountable for what they allow to become public information and what information we control. Still, the best way to be sure that none of your personal information becomes public domain, is to just not make it public.

Lon Safko
Author, The Social Media Bible


About the author

Lon Safko is a remarkably creative person. He is the creator of the “First Computer To Save A Human Life” as coined by Steve Jobs, Apple, Inc.