Facebook–culture of greater sharing–at what price?

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silmcoach
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Facebook–culture of greater sharing–at what price?

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Cheryl Sandberg, chief Operating Officer at Facebook explains that "When you put technology behind the power of who we are as people the world changes. That is the power of what we do."

Emily Maitlis (Mark Zuckerberg: Inside Facebook. BBC 2; 4/12/2011) tells us that Facebook has changed the way that hundreds of millions of people talk to each other. It has created a whole new global culture.

Zuckerberg says "Most people had no voice, no podium, where they could share things, but now everyone does." He explains that Social Networks are a ubiquitous tool. They will be used every day by billions of people around the world to stay socially connected. The Facebook experience enriches the user's world. Facebook's development is guided by the idea that every year the amount that people want to add and share and express is increasing.

Maitlis tells us that Facebook wants its world to be like our real social world, but she notes the Facebook world now involves brands and business as part of the conversations. But do users want commercial messages? Both Sandberg and Zuckerberg argue yes.

Sandberg explains that, "Mark's vision of the world is one where we're better if we are more open and connected. My life is improved by knowing what you are doing, if I care what you are doing. And if I've chosen to connect to a Starbucks, I want their announcements, I have chosen, just like I friend someone. I have chosen this."

Professor Ben Edelman (Harvard Business School) explains that “Facebook have chosen terminology, and at least as important, chosen a user interface design that encourages sharing. They've set their defaults in a way that makes it seem like this is the right and normal and natural thing to do.” He is not so sure it really is; not so sure it's been the way of things or needs to be the way of things for every picture you take to be distributed to hundreds or thousands of people and yet they've tried to convince us that that's what the new normal is and that's the way it should be.

But, Maitlis explains that Facebook ran into problems with Beacon, which told people what their friends where buying. There were furious complaints and Zuckerberg withdrew it with apologies. Jessie Hempel, (Technology Writer, Fortune Magazine) tells us that a pattern has emerged. "Facebook tend to do a three steps forward and one step back launch approach. It often launches products that really push us, tests the water so to speak. Facebook pulls back and then begins to roll it out again more slowly. So if you look at the products that caused the most tension 3-4 years ago, all of those products exist in various facets of Facebook today, and nobody's talking about them, because at this point, culturally we're all comfortable with them."

It costs money to develop and support the Facebook platform that provides a virtual world for sharing. So it is perhaps a fair trade to sacrifice a degree of personal privacy for use of the Facebook platform. But if the exchange terms are not fixed—how high might the price rise?

Given that the boundary between private and public worlds is gradually being stretched through ever more sharing—just how far will users allow this cultural change to go?
silmcoach
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