The privacy prudes already are taking up pitchforks and torches. The chat on Twitter is on high-simmer. The American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California chapter put out a protest proclamation even before Facebook had finished announcing the new service. ACLU carps that it’s too hard for Facebook fans to opt out: “In the world of Facebook Places, ‘no’ is unfortunately not an option.”
We debated this topic on “Squawk on the Street” and “Power Lunch,” as part of our special "Tangled Web: Profits & Privacy" coverage.
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Privacy Rights Clearinghouse worries that people will witlessly reveal the precise location of their homes (though didn’t the old phonebook do that anyway?). The Center for Digital Democracy aims to get the FTC involved, a likely inevitability even without the prodding. Look for more manufactured outrage and furrowed brows in coming weeks.
And for what?
Consumers always willingly have sacrificed some privacy for convenience. We let American Express know our most personal details so we can avoid carrying a lot of cash. We don’t mind that Avis knows our profile preferences without asking, so long as we can go straight from the drop-off bus into the new rental without checking in at the counter.
Along came the social networking craze (thank you, MySpace). Suddenly people were revealing even more-personal secrets—without much of any payback in convenience. Not just their financial data, but also hobbies and passions, marital woes and sexual orientations, their political bent and religious views. And fun photos of drunken revelry.
Takes two sides to make a trade, and in this realm the two sides are exhibitionism and voyeurism.