Facebook and Google want you to shill for their advertisers

The great thing about social networks is that everyone on them is susceptible to becoming Soylent Green for advertisers. Facebook really doesn’t give a damn about your privacy. Google just announced that it will take your Google+ reviews and chuck them up in ads. You won’t care because fake friends are so much easier than real friends.

So, let’s go through two major changes in privacy terms adopted by Facebook and Google. Then, we will watch the world burn.

First, Facebook. According to Facebook itself:

Everyone used to have a setting called “Who can look up your Timeline by name?,” which controlled whether you could be found when people typed your name into the Facebook search bar.

The setting was created when Facebook was a simple directory of profiles and it was very limited. For example, it didn’t prevent people from navigating to your Timeline by clicking your name in a story in News Feed, or from a mutual friend’s Timeline. Today, people can also search Facebook using Graph Search (for example, “People who live in Seattle,”) making it even more important to control the privacy of the things you share rather than how people get to your Timeline.

The setting also made Facebook’s search feature feel broken at times. For example, people told us that they found it confusing when they tried looking for someone who they knew personally and couldn’t find them in search results, or when two people were in a Facebook Group and then couldn’t find each other through search.

That sounds like no big deal, but here’s the clincher:

The best way to control what people can find about you is to choose the audience of the individual things you share.

In the coming weeks, people who are sharing posts publicly on Facebook will also see a notice reminding them that those posts can be seen by anyone, including people they may not know. The notice reminds people how to change the audience for each post.

In a nutshell, you used to have some control over your Facebook space. That control has now been taken away and you have to just address things on an individual basis meaning, effectively, Facebook doesn’t really want you to be private.

You being private doesn’t create any opportunity for them to exploit your network to sell ads. Ads is all that makes them money. Making those ads targeted, meaning highly dependent on your actions, creates more value for Facebook. You is food.

Now, let’s look at Google, in its own words:

Feedback from people you know can save you time and improve results for you and your friends across all Google services, including Search, Maps, Play and in advertising. For example, your friends might see that you rated an album 4 stars on the band’s Google Play page. And the +1 you gave your favorite local bakery could be included in an ad that the bakery runs through Google. We call these recommendations shared endorsements and you can learn more about them here.

When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, you can control the use of your Profile name and photo via the Shared Endorsements setting. If you turn the setting to “off,” your Profile name and photo will not show up on that ad for your favorite bakery or any other ads. This setting only applies to use in ads, and doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play.

Not as abusive as Facebook, but it really does create a whole slew of new issues. First, sure, you can opt out of all of this, but the onus is on you. Second, the local bakery they so love to quote as an example, isn’t really obligated now to court you. Typically, if an advertiser wanted your endorsement they’d have to get you to directly provide permission. This is now a blanket permission slip.

It’s great for Google. Your input gets sold by them and they can micro-target advertisers now by pinpointing your feedback and, most likely, a whole mess of other data that they have on you.

Again, opting out is always a choice, and it all sounds great, but frankly, if every time you walked in to Macy’s they took your picture and put it up on a website to say, One more happy customer just walked through our doors, you’d be ticked off. If they then told you, Sorry, but you have a Macy’s card and can choose to opt out online, you’d still be ticked off.

On the other hand, this is great news for those freaks that like to write reviews about everything just because they feel empowered. They seem their review on a Google ad and they’ll probably screen capture, and post it to highlight their nanosecond of fame.

Most of us just want to be. We want to feel like we can like stuff, even laud it without it being subject to use. Not even misuse, but just simple use. 

I can go to my baker and say, That was a great a bear claw, dude. If he then wanted my number so that he could have another customer call me to get my endorsement of his bear claw, I’d be like, Dude,  that’s not why I expressed my appreciation.

Okay, put aside your personal foibles and social maladies. The notion that these giants of technology can only really create value by exploiting the behavior patterns of their users, which they have intimate access to, is disturbing at the least, and frightening. 

Big corporations are not benign. The people who run them are not democratic. This stuff is manipulative, and it cheapens the social experience online, and it will ensnare a lot of unwitting users because, that’s probably what it is designed to do. Like the small print in a contract, it’s a gotcha moment.