After seven years of sharing random aspects of my life to friends and acquaintances, I decided to delete my Facebook account permanently last May.
I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to commit social suicide. I deleted my account after Facebook updated their application, allowing them to record and identify music through your phone’s microphone. I immediately asked myself, why do they need to know that I listen to R. Kelly?
With your consent, Facebook will be able to listen to songs playing in the background and identify them for you as you update your status. The catch is, if you refuse to post the song, they’ll keep a record of your music history for themselves.
Has technology made our lives infinitely easier by eliminating simple steps such as manually identifying our music? I don’t think so. It’s an invasion of privacy and companies like Facebook have adopted new schemes to mold our culture by creating effective methods of information-gathering.
I’m aware that Facebook is a public company that provides a free service, but their price of admission is your willingness to give away your privacy. I realized their advertising techniques catered specifically toward my tastes when I saw an ad for concert tickets for a Slayer show.
With how much they knew about me and my many likes, they may as well put in bold letters on their terms of agreement page, “Everything you say or do will be logged forever in our database. Mark Zuckerberg will personally send you a birthday gift of an item you liked drunkenly three years ago.”
By clicking that like button, sharing pictures of advertisements, instagramming soda bottles and participating in viral movements such as the Ice Bucket Challenge, it has become socially acceptable to let advertisers peep into our everyday lives.
I’m guilty of giving money to Dos Equis beer for their “Most Interesting Man in the World” advertising antic. How could I resist? The photos are shared hastily on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. Even better, users have embraced the meme and have generated their own clever quotes over the original picture to share online. I inadvertently advertised for Dos Equis without any financial gain.
With all that said, I still believe that the services Facebook provides are crucial in keeping up with how our world is changing. I do miss having the option to catch up with an old friend by stalking their profile and messaging them at 2 a.m. to relive old memories. I am also restrained from participating in wonderful activities such as Tinder because I’m required a Facebook login to create an account.
Perhaps this is the future and there is no way around it. My efforts to keep my private life will probably be worthless. I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up one day to find my thermos advertising me a new brand of tomato soup because it logs my lunch history.
If this is the case, as consumers we can define what companies advertise to us by being more careful about what we reveal online. You don’t need to put on a tinfoil hat and move to a deserted island to keep your information private. Think twice before you hit that like, share, or tweet button because who knows where that information will end up.
In the end, are you really following up with friends on Facebook, or is Facebook following you?