The Social Network

Facebook is a lot like life–it has undergone changes we don’t entirely agree with, but we find a way to adapt, appreciate, or tolerate the new situation.

A few weeks ago, Facebook continued to garner the world’s attention with its nth layout change. Some people adapted to the change nonetheless, finding ways to customize their page within their preferences. Others, like me, retained the old look by changing the language settings. I went from my original English UK to English Indian; recently, a friend discovered that Spanish also keeps the old layout.

But looks can only go so far, and I soon discovered that the privacy settings of Facebook have gone beyond my shy comfort zone. After tagging a friend in one of my photo albums, his friend was able to comment and other friends of his were able to like the photo, even if the album’s settings indicated only MY friends could see the photos. This never happened in my older albums, as the access was exclusive to the tagged friends, my friends, and myself. Since its most recent change, however, Facebook is now more “stalker friendly,” allowing tagged photos and statuses to be viewable to your friend’s friends–people who aren’t necessarily your friends.

Let me make that clearer…take the photo above. My status indicated: “Testing 1 2 3, Karla meet Anj.”

Karla and Anj are my friends. But Karla is not friends with Anj. However, since they are both tagged in the status, both their friends can see the status. They can even like the status (indicated by Marjo, Karla’s friend but not mine or Anj’s), even if I do not know Marjo personally.

That is just plain creepy! This new accessibility, however, truly defines Facebook as a social network.That’s the point of networking–to meet new people care of those you already know. But if you’re not that kind of person, you have to be one careful with the tagging function. Compared to before, we have access to how much of your life you’re willing to place in public. Before Friendster, Multiply, and Facebook, we communicated through long phone conversations, then text messages, then e-mails. Those messages (and until now) are sent to specific persons. We have  a choice regarding how much we were willing to share–and how far it would go. The only information dissemination beyond your control was word of mouth (aka gossip/tsismis).

With Facebook and other social networking sites, the information directly comes from the source. No one else is held accountable since you’ve recorded a status from your keyboard–no misinterpretations and exaggerations in between. But if your friends want to get your attention with a tag, their friends’ will take notice as well. Just like gossip, the wrong impression can be made should a stranger tag you in the most random (or incriminating) posts/videos/photos. Let’s just hope no one gets too judgemental.

Otherwise, just like the non-social networking days, it’s best to control the information being posted–after all, if you know your friends personally, it shouldn’t be too difficult to talk to them about not tagging you, right?

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