Europe Somehow Missed Facebook’s Anti-Privacy Attitude

Senior Contributor

Everyone knows how annoying Facebook can be. It’s greedy for every bit of personal information it can get, from what you’re listening to on Spotify to your sexual history, at least if your one-night stand friends you. And it wants that information in order to sell it to advertisers, who in turn give Facebook billions in “narrowly targeted” ads.

On the other hand, it’s not like they’re pretending to be anything they aren’t. Hell, Zucks himself hasn’t been shy about saying he doesn’t believe in anonymity, unless it happens to be the anonymity and privacy of Mark Zuckerberg. That’s still sacrosanct.

So when Europeans start whining about how Facebook is stealing their lives, it makes us chuckle. Oh, Europe! You’re adorable!

Specifically, we’re thinking about John Naughton’s recent editorial in the Guardian, the whole of which is a hilarious festival of hyperbole and whining. A few of our favorite excerpts:

Note the authoritarian tone: “Everyone will get timeline.” Translation: you’ll get it whether you like it or not. We will return to this later.

“How dare a private network you are in no way shape or form required to join to transact your life change things arbitrarily and without my consent?” Yes, he’s in his late middle age. How’d you guess?

Sandberg’s speech was revealing because it exposes the line of argument that Google, Facebook, et al will use to undermine public authorities that seek to control their freedom to exploit their users’ identities and abuse their privacy. The argument is that internet companies create lots of jobs and are good for the economy and European governments shouldn’t stand in their way.

No, that’s the public relations line. The reality is, well, quite a bit different.

The truth is that companies such as Facebook are basically the corporate world’s equivalent of sociopaths, that is to say individuals who are completely lacking in conscience and respect for others.

Uh, isn’t that most large companies? Pretty much every electronics company is working Chinese laborers to death, financial companies are playing chicken with other people’s lives in order to boost profit margins by .0001%, and so on and so on. Really, as lousy as Facebook can be, in terms of inflicting human misery they’re actually pretty good next to, say, Apple.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be concerned about Facebook trying to worm its way into our lives, or the privacy and anonymity issues raised by social networks, but at the same time, none of this is forced out of us. We volunteer this information, and we volunteer it gladly, as a rule.

So, as awful as Facebook can be, it’s only as awful as we let it be.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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