Thursday, 13 May 2010

diaspora: leave fb day

Amidst growing concerns over privacy on Facebook (does that sound like the intro to a news story or what?!) people all over the shop are heading for the hills! (See what I did there: switched it up with ridiculous expressions, keeping it real, taking it to the next level..) So, leave Facebook day is May 21. Read more about it on Tama Leaver's blog, which is, incidentally, pretty much a one-stop-shop for new media news for me lately. If you haven't already, I'd suggest subscribing. Essentially, this is about awareness raising. Remember when petrol prices sky-rocketed a few years back (they had to upgrade the signs to support surpassing the $1 point) and there was that 'nobody buy petrol on this one particular day' initiative? I think it was meant to scare the oil companies, but I'm pretty sure it didn't work. Fuel was $1.33 on my way to work this morning. Similarly, I don't think leave Facebook day will cause Facebook to collapse or for Mark Zuckerberg to denounce his privacy is dead rhetoric, but this initiative is about discourse building. It's about letting people know that the way we think about privacy is changing right now, and our actions (or complacency) will shape privacy policies of tomorrow. Of course this is part of a much larger shift in privacy concerns, but that's for another discussion.

So: May 21. Will you be leaving Facebook in a privacy-fueled rage? Or will you quietly deactivate your account for a day, and then race back to it at midnight to see if you've missed anything? I'm going to play the social scientist card and observe with pen and pad, although I do enjoy flirting with the 'deactivate my account' button. If you haven't already, you should click it and find out who Facebook thinks will miss you the most, complete with a cute picture of you and said Friend!

This might be a long-term alternative: diaspora. User-controlled, open-source, privacy-aware, node-centric alternative to Facebook. Ready for exodus? Maybe not yet. It's a new project, with some great potential. It's certainly something I'll be following over the next six months or so!

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