So this weeks tutorial task got us to look at how we communicate online with others, whether it be friends or family.
To me, I do a lot of my socialising online through Facebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter and Tumblr, as well as through Skype. Before Facebook we used MySpace, and before that Bebo, and before that we actually spoke to one another. Not to say that I don’t actually speak to anybody anymore, I’m more saying that now that most of the people I know use these online social networking sites I find it easier to communicate with them. These social mediums have essentially cut out the need to actually speak to someone face to face. Gone are the days of leaving school and not seeing your friends until the next day. Nowadays when you go home your friends come home with you as well.
So to answer our first pre-determined question; I’ve been using online social networking tools for around 5 years, longer if you count the days of talking to my friends via the chat function of whatever popular online game we were playing in Primary School. As for what influenced me to start using them? I’d have to say simply because my friends did. If I wanted to stay up-to-date with how my friends were talking with one another I would have to use whatever social tool they were using at the time (which explains my use of Bebo and MySpace *shudder*).
My concerns for my own privacy on these online networking sites are pretty low. I’ve read a lot on how Facebook tracks your browsing data and saves your personal information and have come to terms with how it is. I’ve accepted the fact that Facebook does this and it doesn’t bother me THAT much. You can control fairly easily the information that you share on Facebook so it’s simple to control what is and isn’t shared with the outside world. And if you’re extremely privacy conscious then you simply don’t have to sign up. Simply put; Facebook tracking and sharing your information is going to happen, you just have to accept it and not put anything on there that you wouldn’t want shared with the outside world.
But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Facebook (and Google) is in the right here. I do think that it is a breach of privacy for these websites to be able to track you across the web. Any website you visit that has a “Like on Facebook” or “Share this on Facebook” button is stored on the Facebook database as a site you have visited. Your entire browsing history saved without your control. Granted that only happens if you leave your Facebook signed in permanently like I do, because I’m lazy. However we sign away our privacy rights as soon as we accept the Terms & Conditions of Facebook.
As for people that I solely know via the internet, I actually have quite a few. Many of which I’ve known for years and talk to quite regularly. Most of them I know on varying different levels. I’ve got a friend who in Canada who I email every now and then who runs a potato farm, a friend in Singapore who is midway through his conscripted military service in the police, an aspiring entrepreneur from Holland, an art student from New York as well as various others from all walks of life. I find that I talk to some of these people less than I do my normal friends, but when I do we have far more meaningful conversations, somewhat like old friends catching up. We might exchange photos of our families or a recent holiday that we went on, that sort of stuff. I find that my conversations with them are richer in quality but lacking in quantity.