(This article will be cross-posted to my Facebook account, my Google+ account and linked-to from Twitter.)
Should I give up on Facebook? Should I give up on Google+? Twitter? What about blogging?
My original philosophy with all social networking was this: treat everything you post as public and there will be no surprises. Even if one only expects certain people to read/see what one posts, taking the pessimistic viewpoint that a cock-up of some kind might make all content public seems like a good “paranoia safety net”.
Something’s changed, though. It’s not just about what you post any more.
Let’s consider Facebook. Not only should I be concerned with stuff I post – and leaving aside for a moment all the stuff that others may post about me – I also need to be concerned about where I web browse. If you’re logged-in to Facebook, any time you visit a web-site with a Facebook ‘Like’ button on it, Facebook gets a notification of that fact even if you don’t click ‘Like’. More than that, Facebook still gets a notification even if you’ve logged out from Facebook because identifiable cookies persist in your browser. That means Facebook know a huge amount about where you browse and when. I don’t particularly have anything to hide about that, but let’s say they decide to ‘enhance’ their offerings in future, as is their usual behaviour, and start posting Facebook messages on your Wall about your other activities. Of course, there will be an uproar and there will be preferences to disable it, but it will be switched on by default and seems rather insidious. “Saves you having to click ‘Like’ to tell your friends where you’ve browsed online…” or something.
So, should I give up on Facebook? Well, maybe. Let’s see: what I get out of it? Possibly not very much, but some occasionally amusing or interesting posts by friends do appear. And I have contact with many more people online via Facebook than anything else. Should I give up on Facebook? Could I give up on Facebook??
What about Google+? Well, I’ve heard Google+ described as rather like a membership with a gym. Lots of people sign up, but then most never go back. I must admit to not really using Google+. There is a lot of talk about it being better than Facebook because Google is less evil and won’t do the same nasty things as Facebook would do. But how can one be sure? After all, the only entity who knows more than Facebook do about where you web browse is Google.
Should I give up on Google+? To the extent that I use it at all, this would be easy enough I think. I don’t visit this particular gym very often.
Should I give up on Twitter? This one’s different. I like Twitter and its simplicity. The short tweets, the ease of follow/unfollow and so on. If I only retain a single, active online presence in social networking I imagine it will be on Twitter. I’m certainly finding that I’m using Twitter more and more, and Facebook less and less.
So should I give up on Twitter? No, I don’t think so.
And what about blogging, on www.sungate.co.uk? There is a great advantage to having one’s own domain name and running a blog on one’s own server: control. I can put what I like on my blog, it won’t go away or get re-organised in a way I don’t like, it won’t spy on me and so on. On the other hand, it’s harder to get people to come here and read it. I find myself posting links to my blog articles on Facebook and Twitter, as that’s possible the only way to get people to read them. Even my wife doesn’t read my blog: it’s the place I write things that she won’t be interested in hearing about. If she was interested, I’d tell her about it and then wouldn’t feel the need to rant about it here!
The blog is here to stay, but how much relevance will it continue to have? Hard to say. And I don’t often get time to write lengthy articles.
I don’t really have a conclusion of any sort to this, I’m simply getting some thoughts out of my head. I guess only time will tell whether I do actually put my social networking where my mouth is and give up on any of them.