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Is Facebook becoming Big Brother?
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Is Facebook becoming Big Brother?

Ariela St Pierre-Collins 2Each day new apps and alliances help Facebook become a larger cyber-superpower, capable of following its users and educating itself about them, writes Ariela St Pierre – Collins, 15, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Barbados.  The question is whether Facebook users should be concerned about the scope of information being permanently compiled.

Your security settings are constantly changing. Personalized “real-time” advertising pops up by way of monitored key words in status updates. Contact exporting tools are disabled to keep other social networking sites from poaching members. 

All these implementations by Facebook raise questions about the social network giant’s reach and power over many citizens of the planet.

Facebook has become the U.S.A. of the social network globe.  Each day it becomes a larger cyber-superpower, nurturing a partnership with Bing! that gives the ever-growing hub of social media access to an entire search engine’s worth of information about its members at its fingertips. At the same time it is buying into thriving competition apps such as the photo-editing social space of Instagram.  By establishing a partnership with Skype, Facebook now has a video chat component alongside instant messaging.  With endless additions such as game apps, Facebook marketplace, adverts, and “pages” used to promote followers for anything from cruise lines to Katy Perry, Facebook’s  user numbers (and consequently profits) are steadily increasing.

Facebook doesn’t charge a fee for usage, but money is to be made with sale of useful statistics. Companies want to know figures like the per cent of females with Republican views in America, or the number of users under 25 years old who have read the Twilight Saga.  More users means more variables; more people means more information can be reaped. 

If you own a Facebook account, you are familiar with your profile and the “About” section you can fill out.  There, plain as day, is the beginning of the data harvesting. It starts with the most basic of information such as gender, birth date and hometown. Then it moves a little deeper into detail with educational institutions, political views and even sexual orientation.

Facebook is following its users everywhere. Applications such as “Facebook Plugins”, using your Facebook account to log into gaming apps and other websites, or integrated Facebook commenting on articles within sites all allow Facebook to educate itself about users based on the articles they read, videos they watch, games they play, even pages they visit. 

The Facebook privacy policy in fact gives clear indication about the wide-ranging way Facebook collects information about you based on friends you look up, where you log in, the web address you are using, the time, date and place uploaded photos were taken, what others post about you and data collected by Facebook advertisers you contact.

The thought of constantly being watched everywhere we surf by a vast, inescapable entity with access to more information about you than your closest bosom friend, is frightening. 

So what is the solution? Do we delete our accounts?  Do we do nothing? 

Doing nothing, in my opinion, will allow Facebook unchecked growth and power.  Facebook, according to its “Terms of Service”, has permission indirectly granted by you to store and use anything you’ve posted, so editing or deleting past posts would be a waste of time.  

What we need to do is go about future postings with cognisance and care.  Limit your postings, live by the mantra “Facebook is forever”.  It may seem paranoid, but over-posting on Facebook is not dissimilar to booking rooms at the Hotel Transylvania.

Once you check in, you may never check out!

Photo: Rebecca Nduku / © Commonwealth Secretariat

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About me:

I am a Barbadian-Canadian and the founder of ‘Youth For Epic Change’, a charity aimed at raising funds for causes both locally and globally and inspiring teens in Barbados to be the catalyst for positive change. View my personal blog at www.unleashthepowerofone.tumblr.com.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/ …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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