Social Media Backlash

If 2009 could be deemed the year that social media hit the mainstream, or at least became accepted by most businesses as something that is not going to be going away anytime soon if ever. Then perhaps this year might be the year we start to see a large consumer backlash against it.

There have always been social media nay sayers, I know it’s hard to believe but not everybody is on FaceBook, I know at least two people who aren’t and have no intent of ever being so, but I think the trend is growing. One indication is the popularity of the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, a handy one-stop shop for removing your interwebz presence. It doesn’t delete your account, rather it goes in, unfriends all your contacts and removes all of your private content before changing the password. Exactly what it does varies between platforms but FaceBook was rattled enough to block the Suicide Machine’s server from accessing it at the beginning of this week, and then issuing a cease and desist letter three days later, which focuses on the breach of T&Cs commited by soliciting user details and reporting profile pictures. Something which Suicide Machine states that it doesn’t do, in fact it believes that:

We are just offering a service to users who want to drop out of Facebook. According to Facebook’s terms of service, they should actually not threaten us but the people who commit suicide — ‘You will not share your password, let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account’ — And again, we are neither ‘hacking’ into their servers, nor scraping their pages. We only store the profile picture and the name of the user! This is actually possible without even logging into Facebook.”

Facebook blocks ‘Web 2.0 Suicide Machine’, NetworkWorld

One of the reasons you might want to drop off the social graph is to protect your future self from anything that your younger or present self might have done. Something which the BBC reports France is also pondering helping it’s citizens do with a Right-to-Forget law. This would enable users to request the deletion of data, or for web and mobile companies to destroy emails and text messages after a set time as:

People and young people need to be protected by the State so that there is fairness in the way this protection is established. A right-to-forget could protect an individual’s privacy and stop them from being permanently held to ransom by unguarded actions from their past.

Divina Frau-Meigs, Professor of American Studies and Media Sociology at the Paris Sorbonne University,
France ponders right-to-forget law

Which might be taking the Nanny state a little too far in my opinion, surely it would be better to teach people, young and old, the dangers of being too liberal with their personal information both on and offline rather than let them have the safety net of a future reset button?

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