Is everyone else really doing it?

The first part of this post was written by Jason Arican from Chicago. He is the Managing Director of Client Relations for @meltwaterbuzz and a writer for @cultureblues. You can find him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dj_justjay. The last part of the post beginning with the So why didn't "Quit Facebook Day" work? part was written by Lauren.

Picture this: You’re a lover scorned and you threaten to leave. This time, for good.

    You (sobbing): “You going to tell EVERYONE? Everything about… me? What about us? What happened to us?? Alright- I’m done with you.”

    Zuckerberg (boisterous chuckle): “Yeah, huh? You’re done?” <snorts> “Ok... right.”

    In a way, it’s almost poetic. But we all know; he’s right. The truth is you/me/us… we’re not going anywhere. ‘Quit Facebook Day’ came and passed with a whimper. Are you quitting Facebook? I didn’t think so. I’m not quitting Facebook, either. Here are my thoughts on what got people so riled up in the first place and Lauren's thoughts later on why it really doesn’t matter.

    It’s undeniable that personal information on Facebook has become significantly less and less private, but for me it’s been a slow cook. Admittedly, I am a bit aloof, so maybe I’m not the best judge. But taking a moment to look back, privacy (or, depending on your perspective, the level of sharing- I’ll come back to this) is not even close to what it was when Facebook started. Remember when you could only share information with people in your network? Yeah…  it’s not even close.

    • So the questions are: How did we get here and are these privacy concerns really worth quitting Facebook for?

    The former is requires a pretty complex answer and there is more than enough written on the matter by people a lot smarter than I. What I can say is that there was already a groundswell of discontent when, in January, Zuckerberg proclaimed that privacy on social networks is no longer the “social norm”. He went on to say that if he could redo Facebook all over again, the default would make personal information public instead of private.

    While this may seem like a head-scratcher, it’s important to remember two things: For one, the main value of Facebook as a business is in the gold mine of information that it holds on us. Facebook knows where we live, how old we are, what we like to watch, listen to, and do. Unlocking this wealth of knowledge is inherent to how it makes money. As CEO, it’s understandable why Zuckerberg would want information publically available.

    But at the heart of this, I just really think that Zuckerberg truly believes what he says. At this point, it’s clearly not about the money for him. Remember back in 2007 when Facebook was valued at $15 billion? I would have been out then. To quote the rapper Ghostface, “this ain’t Play-Doh dough!”

    Anyway, Facebook is Zuckerberg’s creation. It’s his pet… it’s his baby. Most importantly it’s his. In a way, I can understand how someone who is as deep as he is truly believes that social means just that… social. The difference is, there is a line. Having different privacy settings levels for features like status updates, photos, and personal info is smart. If I see a show and I want to tell the world how good or bad it was, I shouldn’t be limited to just updating my friends. Things like this should be more public.

    However, the eventual sale of information (and yes that is absolutely the endgame here) to third-party sites that benefit from implementing ‘Like’ buttons only and obviously appeals to my first point: the mon-ay. Businesses have a responsibility to make and cash checks, plain and simple.

    So why didn’t "Quit Facebook Day" work?

    People are too connected and too involved. Everyone is VERY interested in what everyone else is doing and everyone is very into staying connected with other friends and family members. People also get attached to pictures, comments, game accomplishments, etc. on their pages.

    No one is quitting Facebook, even though they have a HUGE PR problem, because no one is going to really care enough that their information is/could be being shared to  whoever and whatever company. They would rather remain "blissfully unaware" as the old phrase goes than be really concerned about where their information is going.

    So was it really a huge PR problem? I think privacy settings and websites sharing information without telling they are going to start sharing information is a problem and once the media and people got their hands on this story, it went HUGE. People got angry and started to panic, but not enough.

    The actual "Quit Facebook Day" has been marked as a failure by many different websites and news sources. Those sites posted polls about who would be quitting and who actually quit. According to their research, most of the people who said they were going to quit Facebook actually didn't.

    So, Facebook doesn't really have a huge problem right now with numbers because thousands of people didn't quit and the media has really been laying off of them. Do you think the problem is over or more privacy concerns will resurface?