HARTMAN: No “Likes” For The Facebook Haters

Perhaps the only thing more frustrating than watching people who know nothing about social media quizzing the king of social media on live television might be … oh, I dunno … me quizzing a nuclear physicist.  Parallel:  The questioners don’t understand the subject matter about which they’re conducting the proverbial Third Degree.

Some of them – and many of my friends, both real ones and Facebook-only ones – also don’t seem to get it.

I’m a big fan of privacy.  I once quit a job because my employer wanted me to sign a privacy release form giving them access to basically anything about me, any record at all, public or not, with no probable cause.  (All employees were required to sign it; I wasn’t being particularly persecuted.)  Since Al Gore invented the Internet and “identity theft” (a misnomer, IMO) became a real thing, I’m even more concerned about the security of my private information – and yours, for that matter.

Guess what?  Facebook isn’t private.  It doesn’t pretend to be.  It’s not a bank.  It’s not a military installation.  It’s a business.  A BUSINESS.  You know, one of those entities that engages in the free market for purposes of profit, while providing a product or service to interested consumers?  Yeah, one of those.

Allegations that Facebook sold or shared my “private” information concerns me not at all.  I don’t have my Social Security Number or bank account numbers on my profile, and I’m sure you don’t either.  I post interesting stories from reliable news outlets, often seeking input from my highly diverse 3,000+ “friends.”  I post things that advance my own clients.  I post things that are amusing.

If a university or propaganda firm harvested my information from Facebook, guess what?  I don’t care.  Many businesses track consumer behavior, and they should; it’s just good business.  You know … BUSINESS.  Commerce, in the Electronic Age.  Embrace it, at least accept it, or go live in a hermitage in the woods.

I am an avid reader of books.  About 25 years ago, back when we still bought those things at book stores, I started getting advertisements in the mail from the store I frequented most often.  Interestingly, it always promoted either my favorite authors – those whose works I bought the most – or authors in the same genre with similar features.  I’m not stupid.  I knew what they were doing.  Guess what (again)?  I liked it.  It made much more sense than sending me ads about upcoming books on Nuclear Physics, New Age Philosophy or the Strategies of Hockey.

Nowadays, I get emails, mail, and even occasional annoying phone calls from companies or politicians or parties who have tracked my online or consumer behavior.  Fine.  My Facebook page gets targeted ads from companies I have supported as a customer or that I am likely to support.  I’m a Freemason, for example; my feed is full of Masonic companies and products.  Cool!  I don’t want or need to see ads for pantyhose or fishing lures or time shares in Aruba.  Those would be a waste of my time, Facebook’s space, and the vendor’s efforts.

As for the allegation that Facebook stifles conservative ads and speech….   Eh.  Maybe.  So what?   It’s a BUSINESS.  Remember those?  Those of us who embrace the free market – you know, conservatives – need to slow our roll when it comes to fussing at Mr. Z.  The First Amendment says the United States Government can’t censor your speech; it doesn’t say that a FREE social media platform can’t.  If Zuckerberg wants to make his company left-leaning, right-leaning, or even Putin-leaning, that’s his prerogative, and he’s answerable to his shareholders, not us.  Don’t like it?  Leave.

The very notion of the Free Market requires acquiescence to our (or your) every opinion or whim is insane.  The idea that a business cannot harvest and recycle information its consumers FREELY PROVIDE in a universally public forum is positively Draconian.  It’s positively, well, liberal-totalitarian.

We are all consumers.  Some of us are producers.  On Facebook and other social media, arguably, we are both.  Suck it up, buttercup.  If the free social media platform you choose to use gives away or sells the information you share of your own accord and this bothers you … well … I’ve got a hermitage in the woods to sell you.

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