Centuries from now robotic anthropologists will analyze ancient historical accounts of the days when humans still had flesh and blood bodies way back in the 21st century. Their scanning devices will sift through piles of hard drives, memory sticks and backup disks for clues. And their computer heads will spin on their neck axles from amazement at all the personal facts humans provided to the data collectors of the day.
Anyone who saw the movie "Social Network" has to be a little bit wary of Facebook. If Mark Zuckerberg treated his own friends that way, how would he treat all of those "friends" who have put their most personal information into his network? Since the company is going public in the near future, at least Facebook users might not have to worry about the company and its database going to a buyer in a country that isn't so friendly.
But they should still worry about about what Facebook and its clients will do with the personal information users give them. See Selling You On Facebook. Excerpt:
Some of the most widely used apps on Facebook—the games, quizzes and sharing services that define the social-networking site and give it such appeal—are gathering volumes of personal information. ...
It is no surprise, of course, that Facebook can gain deep knowledge of people's lives. It is, after all, a social network where users voluntarily share their names, closest friendships, snapshots, sexual preferences ("interested in men," "interested in women"), schools attended and countless other details, including moment-to-moment thoughts in the form of "status updates."
This kind of information is the coin of the realm in the personal-data economy. The $28 billion online advertising industry is fueled largely by data collected about users' Web behavior that allow advertisers to create customized ads.
The "app economy," which includes Facebook as well as smartphone apps, is estimated to have generated $20 billion in revenue in 2011 by selling downloads, advertising, "virtual goods" and other products, according to estimates from Rubinson Partners, a market researcher.
Future robot #1: "How fortunate we are that humans of that era placed the value of their personal information at zero." Future robot #2: "Negative. Too much information. Must recalibrate boredom meter."
Post Script. Yet another link: Look Who’s Stalking: The 10 Creepiest Apps For Phones, Facebook, and More.