[caption id="attachment_112478" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Mark Zuckerberg meets Barack Obama"]
The technology rant site Gizmodo
recently plunked a bounty on Facebook
co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, asking readers to send in random shots of the social media titan this summer. This announcement, which challenges Zuckerberg’s hypocrisy of living a private and guarded life while his company mines its 900 million users’ personal data
, is just the latest headache for Zuckerberg. Facebook’s IPO has been a dud, leading some to wonder whether the social networking site is the next Friendster. Critics sneered
at the company’s online vote
. Even Hillary Clinton’s texting meme mocked
Zuckerberg. Meanwhile the demographics
of Facebook’s board of directors has attracted scrutiny, too.
So Gizmodo is piling on the anti-Zuckerberg bandwagon
, asking users to contribute random photos of Facebook’s founder until Labor Day. After all, since apparently Zuckerberg is all about public sharing while telling the world little about himself, then it is perfectly fine for amateur paparazzi to take photos of him out and about in his Palo Alto neighborhood, at a conference, or tackling his 2012 goal, writing code
on a daily basis. If a such a photo is posted on Gizmodo’s site, its editors will pay you $20. Fair enough?
The point about Facebook making money off of our private data is well noted. True, those “Likes,” friendships, status updates and messages in turn drive the ad campaigns that Facebook targets to individual users. And it is head-scratching the man who has motivated millions to share their personal details so openly was very secretive about his wedding
But Facebook is also responsible for other internet-based businesses to grow and thrive on the internet, including Gizmodo
, which at last count is close to 422,000 “Likes.” Many random causes
also find a voice thanks to Facebook. The Social Network also does not force anyone to post anything on its site, including those countless profile pictures of someone holding a can of booze, which is a questionable decision if you are under 21 and does not look cool, at all, unless you are Betty White’s age. Revealing details about your recent gall bladder surgery or posting pictures of your dog does probably mean you will get ads targeted to you, or not
: in my case, no matter how many pictures of sunsets that I post on a daily basis, the ads that show up on on my Facebook page are for hair salon keratin treatments or life sized hand carved stone statues. In fairness, both services are usually discounted 25 percent, but the temptation has not yet been strong enough.
And if you do not want ads targeted to you by Facebook, there are a few solutions: use a mobile app on your phone or tablet that at last check are free of advertising, or if you do not want Facebook “stalking” you, mess with the social network. Instead of a “check in” at the local coffee shop, take my lead: find the worst possible place to check in that does not fit your personality. My list includes tattoo parlors, weekly bingo tournaments, aromatherapy clinics, and at airports, “TSA Hell.” Check in a friend with you, too, that is three time zones away, though if you do that, you should ask your friend if it he or she consents to such tom foolery. View the resulting ads and enjoy the results.
Gizmodo’s summer special probably says more about Internet publishing than whether Facebook is or is not the evil empire. Most people are probably too busy updating their Facebook statuses, while complaining about Facebook, to really trail Mark Zuckerberg for $20. Those who do this for a living or for quick sums of cash will do this for more money, or even emigrate from Brazil, to trail someone like Britney Spears
. What Gizmodo’s stunt will do is get a few extra hits in their site to hit those monthly goals. The best way to counter the obnoxious privacy policies of social media sites is to be careful about your online activity--or reduce it. The evidence suggests Facebook is already starting to suffer from those effects
Leon Kaye, based in California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.
Photo of Mark Zuckerberg with Barack Obama courtesy White House photostream and Wikipedia