The true threat of having the social web “invade” your privacy isn’t that its going to end up getting your house robbed (e.g. make excessive information available to the general public), but that it’s going to make it harder for you to control your personal mythology.
Facebook is a system for creating a profile – an optimized, aggregated, understanding of a single person. This, as its modus operandi, is brilliant because it works just swell as a part of something like, say, a targeted advertising network.
Of course this idea alone is flawed. When those pictures of you doing a nude keg stand become a part of your profile, and everyone sees them, cue the backlash.
For Facebook this can’t be fixed with a change in the information Facebook takes in – this would break their whole idea – so it has to be managed with a change in the way information is pushed out. This is why the real way Facebook addressed its privacy problems wasn’t by altering that thousands-of-words document you’re supposed to read before you sign up and every time it changes, but by adding features that allow you to show/hide select information to select groups and so forth.
So, take what you want Facebook, but just let me control what people see. Let me create the myth I want to be.
Which is kind of sad, if I may be a bit innocent here. Not the advertiser bit – can’t do much about that. It’s sad that that’s what we want out of Facebook and the social web. It means that the social web isn’t a place for self discovery or connecting with people (aka “being social”), it’s a place to be fake. It’s a place to be the same, not different, as others. Homogenized. On a mass scale.
The only people who will ever know what really makes us who we are will be, ironically, the advertisers. I suppose they’re more than fine with that. In fact, real self actualization, rather than product-created actualization, is their ultimate enemy anyway. You are who you are because you like Pepsi. Would you like to like Coke?