OPINION: Privacy is one thing, pointless fear mongering is another

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Privacy is important. There is no doubt about it. When apps send entire address books, unencrypted, without permission, people have every right to be upset. I am not denying that.

But what has stunned me is something that happens almost every time a company, such as Facebook, changes anything. And that is the amount of people that will instantly call it a privacy concern, or likewise, begin acting like it’s a public outrage that things as simple as Timeline have been made.

Now, as I’ve said, privacy is important. But the current, consistent and constant fear isn’t really caused by a lack of privacy. When Facebook announced Timeline, plenty of critics, and users, instantly called it “creepy”. And that’s just naive. People seem to think that the internet is like real life. If I say something, it’ll last, in memory, for a couple of days, or even years if it’s something controversial or eventful, but it’ll eventually, likely, be forgotten. When Facebook announced Timeline, however, people became paranoid from the fear that people might, GASP!, be able to see posts you made previously! How dare they? How dare they make it easier to see posts that I made previously?

So here is my question to you. Why is it so “creepy” that Facebook would allow people to look at older posts? Why do so many people fear about what they’ve said in the past? If you’re that scared about something in the past, why do you continue to post things now? Just think, that picture of you and your family will last forever too. Along with that status about your noisy neighbour’s party.

When you sign up for Facebook, or Twitter or Myspace or any other social network, you agree to a long list of words, that you might not even read, but you also agree that what you do in that space is visible forever. Things don’t go away. And they shouldn’t.

Facebook should be applauded for Timeline’s ease of use when looking back on previous content, something that Twitter should also consider. And Facebook shouldn’t be constantly sent the message that change is bad. Because, without proper feedback, they’ll continue to make changes. And when a change is eventually actually bad, there will be no way to let them know.

Now don’t get me started on the “Google sells our information” myth.

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