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Two students on the drawbacks to social networking

Facebook logo with the shadow of lock over it represents online and social networking privacy and security.

Kai Ryssdal: My Facebook account was hacked a couple of months ago. Nothing I've done -- not calling Facebook, not emailing Facebook, not complaining about Facebook on the radio -- got me my account back. Honestly, I don't actually miss it that much. I don't have to deal with all the Facebook privacy angst. And also I'm not really the target audience anyway.

But Asha Richardson and Bianca Brooks are. Asha is a junior at Mills College in San Francisco majoring in economics; Bianca is a high school student in Oakland. Good to have you both with us.

Bianca Brooks: Hi.

Asha Richardson: Hi, it's nice to be here.

Ryssdal: This is a story really about how the other half lives online, about some of these stories we've been seeing the last couple of days about privacy and how younger people who are online worry about it. And so I guess Bianca, you're 15 years old, you're in high school, is privacy a thing for you?

Brooks: Yes, mostly because when I started on Facebook and on social networking, it was really a personal experience. And now it's just become like this whole advertisement for thousands of products that I never ask for and I would really never buy.

Ryssdal: Yeah, you had a great line to one of my producers yesterday. You said, "They took the face out of Facebook."

Brooks: They did take the face out of Facebook. Now it's "Adbook" or "Sellbook" and it's just crazy.

Ryssdal: Asha, you feel the same way?

Richardson: I'm conflicted because the only thing that I really can't stand about the Facebook privacy issue is they're always changing it. They don't tell you that they're changing it until after they've changed it. Like when they made the change and they just added everybody's cell phone number who had installed the Facebook app onto their phone, they didn't tell anybody. It was just there all of a sudden.

Ryssdal: Is there anything that would make you leave Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or whatever other social-networking sites you're on, Asha?

Richardson: I've actually started making the transition. You know, I just turned 20 and soon I'll be trying to get internships and stuff. And I don't want people to be able to Google my name and see every little thing I've ever said in the world.

Ryssdal: So the same question that I asked Asha, I'll ask you. Would you leave Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or any of these other sites?

Brooks: It's so hard to answer that. The pros and cons, they weigh the same. Like it's at one point, you're losing your personal identity with people. Like people don't even know how to socially talk in real life anymore. But then at the same time, it's still networking. It's still good for businesses. It's still good for all this stuff. If I would personally leave it? I don't really think it. Maybe one day I can just delete it, but no time soon.

Ryssdal: Asha, you are 20, you're a junior in college, you're going to be doing job interviews soon. Is social networking something you feel you need? Do you have to be on Facebook?

Richardson: Well, I actually just talked to someone about this the other day and they're in the MBA program. And they were like, 'Do you have a LinkedIn?' And I was like, 'No, I don't have a LinkedIn because I thought that wouldn't be good.' They're like, 'Oh, you need this one.' So apparently some social networking sites are acceptable for certain age groups. I mean, I've been computers and like Yahoo. I started using Yahoo in third grade. Back in the day, in the '90s, the Internet was this anonymous...

Ryssdal: Back in the day, yeah, OK. Go ahead.

Richardson: Yes, the '90s are back in the day. The Internet was this anonymous place and now it's not that. Who you are on the Internet is more substantial than who you are in person.

Brooks: Yes.

Richardson: Like, I know people who would rather give you their cell phone number than add you on Facebook.

Ryssdal: Asha Richardson and Bianca Brooks in Oakland. Thanks you guys.

Brooks: Thank you.

Richardson: All right.

Ryssdal: Asha and Bianca came to us courtesy of Youth Radio.

Log in to post4 Comments

"Maybe one day I can just delete it, but no time soon."

I got a chuckle when Brooks said that. There is no delete on the internet and people need to understand that what you put online is there forever.

To the "if you don't like, don't use it" crowd regarding Facebook: with Facebook's "tagging" technology and facial recognition applications, if you interact with someone that is on Facebook in real life, with or without your knowledge, they can take pictures of you and now post them on Facebook, and you would be tracked. I don't have a Facebook page, but I don't like the fact that Mr. Zuckerberg can potentially invade my privacy through his unsuspecting minions, such as yourselves.

And, best part of the interview:
"Like people don't even know how to socially talk in real life anymore." It seems that Farcebook is good for pretty much one thing: imparting onto the world the social awkwardness of Mark Zuckerberg himself.

I have to say this story irked me a bit when I heard it on the radio earlier today. Simply put, if you don't want information on Facebook, don't put it on Facebook. If you're concerned about privacy on Facebook, either don't use it, or limit your involvement with it to information you don't care if other people have access to. If you're concerned about a future employer finding your Facebook profile and getting potentially incriminating information from it, don't put any incriminating information on Facebook! Or subtly change your name to make it impossible for others to find you. There are a million ways to game the system. Own your social media, don't let it own you.

Let's face it (pun, there): Once we are on Facebook, we "belong" to Zuckerberg and his clients. We joined FB voluntarily. There is no subscription price. We can leave FB voluntarily if we don't like it anymore. People forget that iby not paying a subscription price, we have absolutely no leverage to cause the company toconsider our wants and desires.

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