It's not about privacy

Yesterday afternoon, Geekwire ran a piece I wrote about the proposed FTC-Facebook settlement. I was inspired by an earlier post on the same subject by Venkat Balasubramani, written in that style of understated provocation that he has.

As of this writing, there is only one comment to the Geekwire guest post, but it's a fortuitous comment.

6144146778_4e0d25a793_zI think the poster (anonymous) was making a point that alternative social media services may afford no more privacy to users then Facebook does.

The comment helps clarify something for me.

Imagine, for a minute, that someone running a social media service with plans for world domination really does have malicious intent. I'm not saying that she really does, just imagine it.

Wouldn't this mogul very much find it in her interest to speak in terms of "privacy" and "control?" With reference to the dissemination of your content, I mean. She might even give you a dashboard with all kinds of buttons and radial dials and checkboxes.

And all the while you might not notice she is monetizing your content, stuff you write, pictures you take and post and others tag. She is monetizing your likeness, using rights of personality associated with your person without actually telling you that's what she's doing. And not paying you any residuals. No royalty, no cut, not even a one-time license fee.

It is as if the owners of AMC told the producers of Madmen, "make a new season of that awesome show for us, for free, and we will give you absolute control over which households can and can't see it."

And they say nothing about the ad revenue.

Image: DonkeyHotey, using source images from NASA-Johnson Space Center and NASA/JPL.

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