Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook Privacy - What Privacy?

Facing extreme pressure from its users, Facebook rescinded their updated policy to essentially "own" in perputuity any content that a user uploads - even if that user deletes his or her profile. One would think that Facebook stole everyone's first born child with the firestorm the company endured this week. Blogs were abuzzing...

What I found interesting is two things - the idea of privacy on a social network and how Hispanics reacted (or didn't react) to the news. The easy one first: social networks are public forums! You may have implemented strict security settings, but in essence, the difference is between walking around naked in the street or on your balcony (either way, someone is going to see you.)

The second is a cultural understanding of Hispanics and their concept of privacy. I've scanned blogs and have seen few Hispanic surnames in the comments section. Hispanics don't seem to be that up in arms about this whole mess. Yet, Hispanics make up a healthy margin of Facebook users (in the neighborhood of 23% even though they make up only 15% of the population.) So what gives? Don't they care that Facebook wants to own their Quinceniera pictures?

The answer is not really. When you grow up in multigenerational households and alongside more siblings than non-Hispanics (3.2 average siblings vs. 2.3), you're idea of privacy is fluid. You understand and accept that your "business" is going to be shared with more people. You accept that your brother's friends are going to tell their cousin Maria that you threw up at the carnival and show her a picture of it. That's life. If Facebook wants to own pictures of your Aunt Teresa dancing salsa with Cuco, your pitbull, then go for it. Afterall, social networks are for sharing. Don't share what you don't want others to see or know.

1 comment:

  1. JP, you nailed it about no privacy in big families.

    you know filipinos are the hispanics of asia -- thanks, spanish colonialism! -- and i have 50+ first cousins on my dad's side alone. they're all on the west coast and grew up together, all up in each other's business. thanks to facebook we now have a family group ("One Nation, Under Panelo") where we data-dump ALL the family's antics, from birthday cake disasters to christmas gag gifts gone wrong -- all the photos and videos are there. (when our Uncle Mar became the first "adult" relative to join facebook, we voted him "The First Panelo to 'get it'")