As a thirty something I grew up with relative anonymity. Meaning that my teenage years were only documented on cheap disposable Kodak cameras that had to be taken to the big box store of my parents’ choosing to be developed. That doesn’t mean, by a long shot, that I took less photos (less selfies) of my friends or what was going on in my life, I would say it is about the same. I have had to say to my husband more than once when we move all of my photo albums that go all the way back to the fourth grade, “I like proof.”
These albums are in my possession, and if anyone looks at them they are in my house. My choices and bad hairstyles as a child, preteen, and teenager are not on the internet for anyone to see. Social media was still in the distance, the far off land of 2005.
When Facebook first showed up into our lives, the lives of university students, it was a boring website that helped you connect with your classmates. It was useful for that, since you could see the profile picture of the person and know that they sit in the row behind you and ask if they have the notes for that lecture you missed. Facebook began rolling out more and more features, allowing more and more people in, and it no longer became an exclusive club. “Everybody” has a Facebook, is what the world seems to say, and you are the weird one if you don’t.
But why didn’t other social media sites last? I believe it is Facebook’s low bar to entry. You didn’t have to understand code, or anything like that. Everyone’s Facebook page looks the same, except for your pictures. Facebook has made its website for the lowest common denominator, and made sharing on their site almost brainless.
This is how we, and Facebook have gotten into trouble. Look at this Eddie Izzard clip, starting at about the 4 minute mark.
Nobody reads what they are doing. People just click to be able to move forward. But if we read what we were doing we would see all the information we were sharing and information we were sharing about others. It is too easy.
I am not sure what Zuckerberg will be discussing with law makers. But we have to be vigilant, read the terms and conditions and not just click next anymore.