Cuban: Facebook Privacy? Who Cares?

If you are in the media enough, you recognize that the media lives for the next headline. "Facebook privacy"? What a great headline. We all care about privacy, right?

Wrong. Privacy is a boogie man for the media to play with — unless you are in the Internet business in some manner, where discussing privacy issues with other Internet people makes everyone feel like they are part of the “smart people.” Facebook privacy is a media issue (which in turn of course makes it a politician's wet dream), nothing more.

If you join Facebook, by definition you want to give up some of your privacy. You want to share pictures, updates and statuses with friends. You want friends you haven’t seen in a long time to find you.

Items and information that would never see the light of day pre-social networks are now regularly uploaded from our phones. No DRM (digital rights management) on those pictures. No requests for DRM on those pictures. No copyright on our status updates. No requests for copyrights on our status updates. Facebook is a social network. The operative word being "social."

Let me put this another way. In every Facebook profile there is a question called “Interested In." You know you answered the question in your profile. When you tell 500 million people that you are interested in finding something — friends, business, whatever ’ did you really think that only applied to your immediate circle of friends?

And what about the interests you shared? Why would you need to share that information to your immediate friends? They should already know that stuff shouldn’t they?  When you published your political or music views and interests, you didn’t do that for the benefit of your immediate friends, did you?

Of course not. You did it to expand your circle of friends. If you want to expand your social circle, you need to share information to people you don’t know. You can’t share information with strangers in hopes of possibly adding them to your social network and then bitch about the lack of privacy.

The privacy advocates among us would tell us that sharing with friends and even potential friends is one thing; making it available to everyone is another.

Well, guess what? While Facebook doesn’t have the equivalent of a "retweet" function, it doesn’t have a "muzzle" function, either. Facebook can’t control downstream discussions today any better than you could when you told stories to your buddies at the bar the other night. Whether you like it or not, posting on Facebook is a publishing function. You are publishing to your “friends,” and whether you like it or not, they have every right, opportunity and possibly inclination to share what you say, do and show.

Facebook privacy is very simple at its core. You joined because you wanted to give up some of your privacy in exchange for the benefits that Facebook offers.

If you think it's a problem, de-activate your account. If you think its a problem, but really want to be on Facebook, RTFM — (Read the Frickin' Manual). The functionality is there.

Since when did it become law that software can’t have some level of depth in order to provide the breadth of features and services that all levels of users require?

The complaints about Facebook privacy are pretty much a joke. It’s a social network, not your voting record.

Mark Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and is chairman of the HDTV cable network HDNet. This article first appeared on his weblog blog maverick.

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