Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fine Print Ignored.

I have spent countless hours on facebook and myspace, meandering through profiles, listening, to music, and staying connected with friends from other schools and from my own. Of the participatory behaviors, I associated closely with what Jenkins calls "affiliations." As i became more speculative of these member based online communities, I began to question what the purpose of all this is? I found myself wasting hours looking at photo after photo, reading profiles, and writing comments. I started to ask myself questions like: Are we supposed to stay connected with our best friend from third grade that we forgot about years ago? what does this new connections do for me, is it beneficial? Who is reading what I have written about myself? Who is looking at my pictures? And the people behind it all... what are they doing, what are their motives? So after class as I began thinking about the idea of this public space, I thought about the public as a place for observation, possible interpretation, or just 'being' in a space. Now as the internet has transformed this public space, I wonder what is the use of this connective force that is beginning to drive our daily lives? After reading the articles that seem to promote these sites for what they are and not necessarily what they do, I wanted to make sure this new public area fosters a community of wellbeing, connection, thought, collaboration, and honesty. What I found specifically on facebook's privicy policies was the fine print which all us are at fault for ignoring.
so what are we getting ourselves into when we are the media creators of our lives and who is behind it all?
Face Books fine print state:
"By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy,
publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content." (terms)

"Facebook may also
collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (e.g., photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalized experience." (privacy)

share your information with third parties only in limited circumstances where we believe such sharing is 1) reasonably necessary to offer the service, 2) legally required or, 3) permitted by you" (privacy)

When i read this, i immediately thought... WOW this is scary! I should have read this before i signed up.... but now that I have created myself into being there is no way for me to remove the information since it is all achieved. So I guess what I am getting at is what is the purpose of all this? Are we slowly beginning to loose our own anonymity? In the tradition public space there is always room from anonymity, but with this online community, it seems that whatever you say or do on face book, will be there forever. Any changes i make, and comments i post, and blogs I write are saved on the world wide web. Technology has its benefits, these online communities have there positives and negatives, but has it gone to far? should our media created self be shared so freely, open for interpretation by anyone, used for statistics. And as these public grow i become very weary of what they will do to our society. I agree with the previous post, and how these communities are breaking down/ changing our modes of communication. In this posting and texting world... how can we write effectively so that we can be interpreted in the way we want? Is it possible to be interpreted that way, or is it the reader of these that does the interpretations?
As you can tell, i am highly skeptical of these new publics, of this new mode of communication. I like to hear voice, I like to hear stories, I like to sit and have a conversation-- not meander though profiles of friends, trying to interpret what their lives may be like, who they are now, or why the hell someone would friend request me from 12 years ago, just to be added to their friend list?
In trying to resist this akward form of communication, i agree with Jenkin's when he say, "These activities have become widespread only if the culture supports them, if they fill recurring needs at a particular historical juncture.
It matters what tools are available to a culture, but it matter more what that culture chooses to do with the tools.

We have been granted with the internet, with a new public space, with a new idea of community, culture, and interaction. So what will we do with it? ... I am not exactly sure... but i know that my aim is to keep my anonymity in this wide public sphere and continue to focus on face to face communication were you can see the speakers eyes, hear their story, shake their hand, and say "i am glad to know you" (not because you are just another friend on my 'buddy list'... but because you are real, and you have something to share with me opposed to the whole online community that makes our "self" open for any interpertion)


Ashley said...

I completely agree with the idea that these online sites seemingly perpetuate ‘friendships’ or ‘connections’ but in truth the only ‘real’ friendships that are nurtured through these public identity spaces are those that flourish face-to-face. The people who you see in person with the most frequency tend to be the people you know on an interpersonal level. In regards to your other point about the fine print-- it a good one. There have been numerous challenges and debates, in fact about the ethics of doing the type of online research that we read about in our articles. Because some consider it to be a ‘public’ space, which the fine print you mentioned seems to indicate, social scientists feel that they should be free to observe it without the subjects’ consent as long as anonymity is retained. Others argue that it should be treated like any other research using human subjects, including informed consent, voluntary participation, and forewarnings about the implications of being in a study. I’m sorry but if you post yourself online—it’s public. That’s the problem people always miss. ANYONE can look at your profile on the web and do whatever they wish any information they’ve gathered, without your permission. That being said, If we argue that these sites facilitate the creation and expression of an “identity,” can’t we also say that we are at the same time voluntarily revoking our own rights and claims to privacy and ownership of that projected “identity.”

Eli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli said...

I agree with Ashley, yes, it can be annoying at times to receive those friend requests from someone you haven't talked to in 12 years, and yes, I have received friend requests from people I have never met (some girl apparently looked through my profile and thought I was her type and sent me a sex quiz to see if we were compatible that way, neglecting to see that I had had a girlfriend...I denied her friendship) but, no matter how many "friends" that I have that I do not keep in contact with any more, or never really did, I am still able to keep close to who I really want to, including my friends from High School who I would have much less contact with if it weren't for Facebook. Furthermore, you are able to meet people that you would not in any other way. My three cousins, who I have never spoken too, all requested my friendship, they live all over the world, and I would never have gotten to know them, otherwise. Much cheaper than three roundtrip plane tickets.