There’s a fun and charming story on Advertising Age about a woman and her friends having a fun and charming dinner together. All is well and good until Facebook Places, the new location-based service that promises to revolutionize something or other, spoils the fun. It seems that people don’t exactly want their exact location broadcast to all of their Facebook friends, especially without their express permission. Oh, no: it’s a moral conundrum (conundrum).
What happened here was that, while eating at a restaurant, the author checked into via Facebook Places. Then she tagged the post with all of the people in her party.
Now, all of these people’s friends will have seen that they were at a certain place at a certain time.
Never mind the fact the such information, to a random friend on a hopelessly large friend list, is pretty much useless: what good does it do me to know that my friend at pizza at 9:30pm somewhere in Queens? No good, exactly.
So let’s put aside the value of the information. What’s happening in the social dynamics of the situation?
Let’s say Friend A is at the restaurant despite the fact that he told his brother that he was “too busy” to help him paint his room. Dark Side points.
Let’s say Friend B told her boyfriend that she just wanted to stay home that night to finish something for work. Dark Side points.
Let’s say Friend C skipped out going to a soccer game with his co-workers because he told them he was feeling sick. Dark Side points.
And so on.
Facebook Places inconveniently exposes the half-truths we tell each other that keeps society moving at a steady clip.
But whose fault is that?
It’s partially Facebook’s for not requiring the approval of a Places tag. That seems like it would be pretty easy to exploit. “I’m going to tag that me and Jim were out all night drinking and visiting various gentlemen’s clubs. Take that, Jim!”
Then Jim wakes up the next morning with an angry phone call from his girlfriend. “What were doing all night? You had better not be where it say you were!”
Clearly Facebook should change the behavior of Places in that regard. And no, a hard-to-find “opt-out” clause does not count, Facebook. This is the type of service that people should have to “opt-in” voluntarily. This surreptitious claptrap is partially why people have such a love-hate relationship with you.
Then again, no one’s forcing you to be on Facebook in the first place.
Or, if you’re on Facebook, no one’s forcing you to list what “[you’re] doing at work, where [you] live, what [you’re] reading…” You can be on Facebook just fine without sharing a montón of data.
All of that being said, it’s pretty funny to think that the biggest problem facing so many twenty-somethings these days is whether or not they can be Facebook tagged without their permission.
The luxuries of life in 2010, I suppose.