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Thye social web – a huge shopping mall?

January 18th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The Facebook privacy arguments won’t go away. In part this is because as a society we are having to rethink what we mean by personal privacy and how much we are prepared to live our lives openly on the net.

And it is also in part because Facebook are keepi9ng the pressure on for ever more disclosure of data. last weekend Facebook announced that it had expanded the information users are able to share with external websites and applications, to include home addresses and mobile phone numbers. True, this had to be authorised but as is often the case the interfaces for doing this were less than clear. In the event Facebook backed off and on Monday announced they were rethinking this feature. But they will be back.

In one of a series of articles she has written on Facebook in the Guardian newspaper, Jemina Kiss explains Facebook’s motivation:

Facebook’s future – if it is to meet the increasingly inflated aspirations of its “incentivised” investors – is to use a combination of its scale and the acres of intimate information it holds about all of us to find the real money in targeted advertising. The strategy is to gradually open our personal data more and more, making open information the norm, desensitising us to any uncomfortable feelings we might have had about our personal data being released into the wild.

And in turn Facebook’s incentivised investors are driven by the aspirations of Facebook to control the social web and eat into Google’s search driven advertising revenue.

This raises a big question. If ‘social’ is indeed the future of the web, do we necessarily have to give over control to a bunch of investors. Is the web just to become one big shopping mall. Or indeed, is that what it is becoming already?

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