Facebook is notoriously insecure. It has flipflopped — more often then McCain — on privacy settings, policies. It keeps rolling out “new” features that undermine old settings. And given the business facebook is in, it WILL be using and harvesting your information.
So why do I have a facebook account? Paradoxically enough, to control it. I set up my account, put down just my name and email address and friend only people I actually know and have met in real life, and that’s pretty much it. I make enough neutral status updates to keep it current and leave it otherwise alone. I don’t play games on it, I don’t link to other things or provide any further detail on myself. If I put out pictures, it is of public events that I have been to. Any information I give out about my whereabouts is after the fact.
Why create one at all, though? Facebook would have even less info on me if I didn’t create an account. This is true to a point. But let’s say a potential employer is searching for me on the web. I want this to come up. If it is the primary source of public information on me, and I control it to this extent, I have satisfied the search for my presence on the Internet without compromising my own privacy. If this weren’t here, the search for “me” might be more intensive and turn up other items I have less control over. In other words, there are current cultural expectations, particularly in my field of work, for a certain kind of visible presence online. You can’t really not have some kind of online presence.
Doing this also means no one else can impersonate me. This, obviously, is more of an issue for higher profile people — for example Wil Wheaton discusses the false FB page about him here: on the internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog, but I’ve seen other examples of this. One that struck me was a case of bullying — and one of the things that happened was that some of the children bullying this kid faked a facebook account purporting to be the bullied kid — in which “he” then bullied other children, as a result getting further ostracized. Whoa. (I’d link to this, and I’m pretty sure I linked to it several months ago, but can’t find it at the moment.) So you can forestall people taking over your identity by claiming it first and then putting only the information you want on it and no more.
On what initially seems like the opposite end of the spectrum in privacy is really the same thing, the management of online info: Online reputation management for sex bloggers; whne a tweet won’t do. In response to a question about being “out” online, maymay responds:
But the fundamental question @wilheminawang had remains: “how do you make sure that your non-kink stuff shows up on google before the kink stuff?”
The answer, actually, is stupidly simple: I create more “non-kink,” non-sex content on the Internet than I create sex content. As a result, when you look for me on Google, you’ll find the amalgamation of everything I put online, not just sex stuff. In other words, creating an image of yourself on the Internet is no different from doing so anywhere else. If you present a certain way most of the time, that’s the image most people will have of you most of the time.
By putting the info I wish onto Facebook and having that be the primary match on my name on google and other searches, I control the information. It’s the same concept, really.