I'm on Facebook. Isn't everyone? It's how I keep up with my sisters, and see their photos. I've found a couple of old friends from long ago, and started communicating with them. I've posted pictures from my travels and adventures, and discussed them with my friends.
But something happened that made me reconsider my use.
A real-life friend read the book 'Lean In' by Sheryl Sandberg. She was so impressed, she posted about it on Facebook. She included a link to Amazon. Some of her other friends commented on her post. It was a lively discussion about feminism, how women are socialized not to succeed. And there was the counter-argument, that maybe we shouldn't try to have it all, because 'all' isn't worth the cost. I haven't read the book, so I didn't chime in. (Actually, I sent her a postcard via US mail)
Since the original posting, her post has shown up twice in my newsfeed with the word 'sponsored' added to the top. And all the comments from the first go-round were still there. Lauren didn't know anything about it. I did a little research to find out what a sponsored post on Facebook means.
A sponsored post on Facebook is one which someone has paid to have posted on the original posters' friends' walls. (or newsfeed, I'm not sure which they call it this week) It's a way for advertisers, including small businesses, to increase the number of people who see their product. In this case, I think it was Amazon. Then again, Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, so there may have been a connection there. No one sees the sponsored post other than people who were eligible to see the original post.
I felt violated, as did Lauren.
What's the big deal? No one saw anything they shouldn't have. Our privacy wasn't violated.
But our words, our ideas, our conversation was used by someone we don't know, for their own purposes that had nothing to do with us. And this was done without our knowledge or consent. Were we harmed? In a practical sense, no.
But it's changed the way I respond to posts on Facebook. I'm less likely to comment, especially on a post that links to anything commercial. I'm less likely to 'like' what my friends have posted. I'm interacting with my friends less, sharing less. And for that I feel harmed.
My Mummies are working with a publicist to get attention. And it seems to be working. They've posted links to reviews of their shows and the latest album. And despite being dead, they've done some interviews. Their campaign seems to be concentrating on online and social media outlets. Heck, I've even activated my long-neglected Twitter account so I can follow their antics. But I'm getting nervous that they may start brokering my support. I have chosen to follow the Mummies. They're important to me, and my life is better for it. It would be painful if that personal involvement were turned into a business transaction.