You Have Received a Friend Request from Big Brother

I’ll admit it: I have a Facebook page. So does the store (it’s here.) Social networking is here to stay, it would seem — and as a behaviour, it’s trickling down from trendy to everyday. And I have to admit that I don’t have a big problem with this sort of networking and information-gathering as it relates to business.

Just like the website, the blog, Twitter, and the online Yellow Pages ads, a Facebook presence helps customers (both current and potential) find us, get a sense of what we’re all about, and whether or not we can help them. It’s truly amazing how quickly we have all come to depend upon this sort of online information gathering. Are you planning a trip? Map your route with Google Maps; find restaurants along the way; check out possible hotels using Trip Advisor. Google for supermarkets in Ithaca, NY. Look for a new apartment on Craigslist. Find that AC/DC lyric you’ve forgotten in one of the zillions of online compendiums.

Are there risks inherent in putting oneself out there, online, though? Yes, surely — and that is a powerful argument for guarding what and how much personal data one reveals on sites such as Facebook. It’s no secret that there are lots of people and organizations interested in data harvesting, whether it be to sell you something, to lobby a government using your data in order to buttress their claims, or to stalk you. Here’s a tongue-in-cheek example (thank goodness!) of the kind of personal data gathering prospect that makes companies drool with anticipation and civil libertarians shudder with dread of Orwellian dystopias.

So, yes, we have a Facebook page, but we promise that it will be information-only. After all, an invasion of your privacy (and mine) would be ungood.

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