Facebook is your Permanent Record

But you knew this already if you used it. You didn’t think they would just let you leave when you’re done, did you? In Sunday’s International Herald Tribune: “On Facebook, Leaving is Hard to Do:”

While the Web site offers users the option to deactivate their accounts, Facebook servers keep copies of the information in those accounts indefinitely. Indeed, many users who have contacted Facebook to request that their accounts be deleted have not succeeded in erasing their records from the network.

Their Terms of Service made this clear, actually. You don’t own your own data. Maybe Gen Z’ers don’t hear this anymore, but when I was growing up “they” would terrify kids into behaving by  telling you your mishaps and evil deeds would go down in your permanent record. I always thought the record was the file on every student kept in the principals office, and perhaps that was good enough. (If you’ve ever gone through a security clearance, you know they look at those). Now, though, people are creating their own persistent, accessible, socially interconnected records that may not be reflective of actual work, social, and personal relationships. They are reflective of the attributes allowable and encouraged by Facebook culture. You don’t own these entries – they do, and they’re in business to sell them as a bundle of relationships, a kind of social CDO, a subprime mortgage on your online footsteps.

Besides, trying to outdo Facebook by social networking in the real world is a lot more fun. People get to have lunch, talk together, and agree to keep secrets.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Business design, Cultural Design, Information Ecology

3 Comments on “Facebook is your Permanent Record”


  1. […] dialogicdesign wrote an interesting post today on Facebook is your Permanent RecordHere’s a quick excerptIn Sunday’s International Herald Tribune: “On Facebook, Leaving is Hard to Do:” While the Web site offers users the option to deactivate their accounts, Facebook servers keep copies of the information in those […] […]

  2. shagdora Says:

    What’s the matter? Don’t you have any friends?

  3. lilly Says:

    have you heard of the site Spock? They aggregate your information from around the web onto one profile and let people search for you and tag you. I recently tried to get my profile deleted and they said that I’d basically have to get all my information off the web for their robots not to aggregate me. I feel like these companies have no shame. And my guess is that kids aren’t starting off different — we all have these experiences where we’re open about putting stuff out and then have an experience that makes us think twice — but they might not have a choice but to cope with this new atmosphere of permatraces.


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