The New Facebook — Powerful Social Connections or End of Our Privacy Forever?

Oh my, there hasn't been this much build up and drama since the world was wondering "Who shot J.R.?" back in 1980. Well, okay, there was more serious drama this summer when we we didn't know whether the U.S. was going into default or not because our representatives in Congress couldn't get their act together.

Today the question burning up the Twitterverse and social sites:
  • Is the new Facebook design going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, or the beginning of the end? 
  • Or rephrased: Is Facebook making amazing leaps and bounds into leveraging the full power and potential of social networking, or are they leading us down the path of losing any hope of keeping our data private forever?

It depends on who you ask. If you talk to the 34,000 individuals who signed up as Facebook developers in a single day because developers get a sneak peak at the new timeline layout, or if you read the article in CNN Tech by Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable,You'll freak when you see the new Facebook, you'd be on the apple pie and motherhood side of the great Facebook divide.

However, if you subscribe to the viewpoint of blogger Adrian Short, Facebook is going to be collecting every bit of private data you have no idea that you're exposing with its "frictionless sharing" so they can share it all with advertisers who will dish up even more tightly targeted ads, you'll be rushing toward the doomsday side — It's the end of the web as we know it.

Facebook has crossed the privacy line almost every time they've added new features, and it's to the point where now it's clear they're pushing the limits with each re-design, waiting to see if the 750 million of us online with them will balk or go along with the changes. And I'm glad we have watchdogs like Adrian Short pointing out where Facebook is taking liberties with our privacy and our private data.

I used this e-card from Someecards in an earlier blog post about the recent Facebook changes, and it's so true, I'm going to use it again (despite the typo, lol):

No one is forcing anyone to use Facebook. It's a free, entirely voluntary service that's making its founder and shareholders some of the richest people and companies (on paper) in the world. And if they do cross the line on what they do with your personal data, you have every right to complain and push back. And, there's always the ultimate voting with your feet — delete your account and walk away.

But excuse me while I go sign up as a developer — I'm eager to get a sneak peek at the new timeline. :-)

*9/27 Update: Here we go again, but it's a good thing  — an article in the Wall Street Journal today where Australian technologist Nik Cubrilovi called Facebook out on their privacy intrusions, and Facebook is having to defend the liberties they're taking. Expect this feature to disappear soon. Facebook Defends Getting Data From Logged-Out Users