[Version courte pour les non-anglophones: l'est temps de se tirer de fessebouc,
qui est sur le point de publier des photos de ta grand'mere en culotte au 20 heures,
avec son adresse en prime.]
I've never been a huge fan of FB. I find it messy, noisy, and phishy in the ways it tricks ingenuous users (meaning most normal humans) into exposing more of themselves than they'd care to (if only they realized) to anyone willing to lurk.
The latest development, however, is seriously shifting gears, and kicking unsuspecting people right into Stalker Central, which itches me the wrong way, so I'm out.
Facebook acting rather callously about user privacy is nothing new, obviously, and it only worsened over time, yet Timeline is something else, and the way FB is going about deployment isn't pretty either — it's so creepy, the ever-upbeat WIRED can't wholly manage to spin it in a favorable light.
Is Google better, really ? Well, in a sense, yes they are.
For one, they're more about co-opting the internets and less about attempting to pull and AOL (which FB clearly is, and it stinks to high heavens), and also because the nature of each company is subtly different.
Mark Zuckerberg fancies himself the new Steve Jobs, and runs FB as a one-man-cult. As proven over time, it's often a very potent strategy to get stuff moving, and to deliver a daring product, as the vision suffers no interference but that of what is feasible.
On the other hand, it only takes one guy losing his marbles to drive the whole train over the cliff, and when it comes to protecting your privacy, an overcompensating narcissist nerd shan't be thy first pick, imo.
Despite their motto of "Don't be evil", the other Church of Nerdery over at Mountain View is not staffed entirely with EFF angels, obviously, but the sheer scope of google's reach, and their 'try every path' approach to product development and marketing means they attract a lot of very bright, naive, hybrid-limo-libs, which are allowed and encouraged to somewhat think for themselves (within reason, ofc) and are more likely than not to either actively oppose, possibly blow the whistle, or at least passive sabotage stuff that stinks too heavily.
Without being a democracy, google sports some of the built-in sanity checks that come with a large headcount of educated and relatively free-willed denizens. That's a plus in their column.
The erosion of privacy in general terms probably files under regrettable inevitability, yet google has some incentive to protect the semblance of intimacy that comes from perceived protection of privacy, because they're not in the business of antagonizing their followers (which compound users and employees), when Zuckerberg has nobody to keep FB in check but his own sense of decency (and some would say The Law, but let's be serious here).
The skinny of Google-over-FB being: more than a fraction of people at google are likely to care and feel guilt if/when BadThings™ happen to innocent, relatable human beings (kids, females, nice elderly/underage white males) as a result of google being lazy or callous about enabling users to protect themselves from stalkers and crazies. As a result they will be both proactive and reactive about mitigating such adverse side-effects inasmuch as they can — something that's obvious from the very design of G+ Circles.
On a more personal level, I can't be arsed to actively maintain a presence on more than one social network, so I'm going to grab my stuff and take a hike. For the foreseeable future, I'm going to stick to G+ and this bloggy thing here for the most part, and rely on some gadgets to leave crumbs behind on FB and Twitter.
…and no, I'm not moving to Diaspora just yet — don't ask.