By Katie Kieffer
The SEC conveniently had Goldman Sachs to distract the public from its own internal corruption. Now, liberal politicians have embraced “privacy concerns” to reframe their power grab to “protect” Americans from social networking entrepreneurs like Facebook‘s founder, Mark Zuckerburg.
A group of four liberal Senators, including my own Sen. Al Franken, have launched an attack against Facebook’s new tools called “social plug-ins,” and its “Instant Personalization Pilot Program,” claiming that they could violate individual privacy. The FTC even wants to “weigh in” on the debate.
These politicians, led by the same Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who called a flight attendant a “*****” for asking him to follow in-flight cell phone rules, want to press new rules on Facebook such that all users would have to “opt-in” to Facebook’s changes versus “opt-out.”
Is it necessary that the government control Facebook?
The primary reason liberal senators like Franken say they are opposed to Facebook’s new pilot program, which can share your information with third parties, is not a serious privacy-related allegation at all. Rather, it is that it is too difficult for people to “opt out” of this feature.
I just opted out of the pilot program myself. Facebook provides directions to “opt out” on its site. It’s easy and it only takes a few minutes to do.
It’s slightly insulting that our Senators think we can’t read Facebook’s simple “opt-out” directions and figure out how to follow them. Will Franken and Schumer start mandating that Apple provide consumers with a personal assistant the first week they own a new laptop or an iPhone to help “train them in?” After all, a laptop or iPhone manual is much more complicated than figuring out how to opt out of Facebook’s pilot program.
Here’s a video showing how quick and easy it is to opt out:
Politicians are likely drooling at the opportunity to leverage more control over elections by framing themselves as “champions of privacy.” If the government had its way, it would probably oversee social networking sites like Facebook. What could be more powerful than access to the data in a social networking site like Facebook for politicians wishing to secure votes in 2010, 2012 and beyond?
Don’t our elected officials have anything better to do than monitor people who are smart enough to tend their Farmville crops multiple times a day but somehow need assistance from the government to figure out how to manage their Facebook Privacy Settings? Our country is in the middle of a devastating recession and our politicians are spending precious time and taxpayer money monitoring and controlling Farmville users.
Perhaps Facebook should change some of its policies, or at least make them more user-friendly, but its own users will speak loud and clear if they dislike them. A Facebook group with over two million members has already popped up lobbying the Facebook Site Governance to change its rules – without the government needing to step in and oversee social networking.
No one is forcing us to participate in Facebook. No one is charging us to participate in Facebook. So, Zuckerburg doesn’t owe us an apology if we simply don’t want to take the time to “opt out” of Facebook’s new pilot program.
Participation in social networking sites like Facebook is not a Constitutional right. If we dislike the rules or we can’t figure them out, we are free to set up a profile on a different site or even form our own social networking site. Rather than “protecting” Americans from new media entrepreneurs like Zuckerburg, our politicians should focus on protecting our country’s national security and our small businesses.
Facebook image credits: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid.