Have you joined my incredibly non-annoying, once-in-a-while email newsletter?
This week’s topic-du-jour-that’s-not-about-Lindsay-and-her-alcohol-classes seems to be about quitting Facebook, and how Mark Zuckerberg is, depending on who you talk to, the Devil, the Antichrist, or both. Even Calacanis jumped into the fray this morning with a post that made some good points.
Now, first off – understand – I’m not saying Zuck is right, or even a nice person. Quite frankly, someone needs to give him some CEO lessons really freaking quickly. But I believe that the uproar over quitting Facebook due to privacy concerns is overblown, and those quitting might come to regret it. Here’s why.
1) Perhaps most importantly, Privacy is only a problem if you’re posting seriously private stuff.
Let’s talk about how many times you were photographed by surveillance cameras this morning as you were driving in your car, picking your nose, and sipping your latte. Let’s talk about how stupid you looked last weekend when you hit on your friend’s girlfriend at that party when you were drunk, or about how you called your boss a douche when you were in the bathroom, and he was in the next stall. Guess what? NONE of that had ANYTHING to do with social media or Facebook. It had to do with YOU being a DUMBASS. Want to prevent Facebook from playing with information you don’t want shared? DON’T POST IT ON FACEBOOK. A photo of you with your mates on a boat sipping Moet is a lot less incriminating than later that night, when you were photographed doing blow off a stripper’s boobs. So let’s make it easy – If you’re going to do stupid shit, make sure you do it without cameras present. If you’re an idiot, and let cameras in, or if you get drunk and tweet, THIS ISN’T FACEBOOK’S FAULT. The Zuck may be a douche, and may be hell-bent on world domination, but it’s not his fault if someone catches you doing blow, and you lose your job over it. It’s also not his fault if you post fifty messages about how you love Twilight, and all of sudden, you start getting Twilight ads, and your friends make fun of you for it. Sorry.
2) The majority of stuff that’s being shared already isn’t that freaking important!
So what if Facebook tells Ray’s Pizza that I “like” their pizza fan page, and I live in NYC? If I live in NYC and go and fan Ray’s Pizza, it’s because I like their pizza to begin with! Facebook is free for us for a reason – Advertisers want to advertise to us! Who gives a shit if Ray’s now targets their pizza ads to me because they know I live in a certain zip code? All the targeted ads in the world won’t matter if I don’t want to buy the product! I don’t care if they’re advertising to me. What’s the big deal?
3) Hating Facebook is “in” now. But they’re not the only one!
I’m the Mayor of the New York Cat Hospital on Foursquare. That ALONE can tell an advertiser more about me than almost ANY action I take on Facebook. Any savvy marketer can cross reference what I’m doing on Foursquare and what stores or restaurants I’m going to, and determine a pretty decent path as to who I am. And we’re worried about Facebook? No! It’s just the topic du-jour.
4) Emulate Casey Stengel
Casey Stengel, one of the greatest managers the New York Mets ever had, was asked how to win baseball games. Stengel, master of the quip, said, “oh, just hit ’em where they ain’t.” The opposite applies to Social Media. Hit them where they ARE. I don’t care HOW many people quit Facebook – It’s not going anywhere, and they’re still bringing on tons more new users each day. My belief? It’ll be acquired by/partner with Google, and that’ll be everything we do in life. And I’m totally fine with that, for the reasons listed here. In the end, it comes down to how we use the tools, anyway. Facebook has made it easy for my parents to post photos of their trip to Argentina to all of their friends. That’s not going away, and my parents, both really, really smart NYU professors, don’t worry about their privacy on Facebook, because posting photos of their trip to Argentina is about as busy as they get on Facebook. But that works FOR THEM.
5) Privacy died 30 years ago. It’s time to mourn and move on.
Seriously. Privacy died a long, long time ago. All that we have private nowadays is what’s in our heads. That’s it. If we paid $19.95 a month to Facebook, we’d have every right to bitch. But we don’t. We’re paying WITH OUR PRIVACY. We offer our information in exchange for the tools to help us live our lives. I’m totally fine with that! Yes, it’d be nice if Facebook was more clearcut with their privacy policies, and I believe they will be in the future – I’m reading articles about internal FB employees getting pissed with the changes – so I’m not worried about it changing – FB will get smarter about how they use your information – But they will continue to do it. And when you think about it, if you’re smart about it, you’re not giving them that much actionable information that a marketer couldn’t find somewhere else. So seriously – Relax. Post a photo of you and your friends on Facebook. It won’t ruin you. Just keep the blow out of sight. Or just give it to Lindsay.