Facebook, LinkedIn and Privacy

David Pogue: Ego control.

I’m the wrong person to ask about LinkedIn and FaceBook because I don’t get it. I get 10 of these things a day. Bob Smith would like to be your friend. Who the hell are you? Why do you want to be my friend? I don’t know you. I don’t get it.

I can see for a college kid wanting to show how many friends he has. There are great features. You announce that you’re getting married, you invite people to a party, you look for someone with expertise to help you with a project. There are genuine uses. But I’ve heard the cynics say it’s just all about ego massaging.

Question: How do these platforms affect privacy?

David Pogue: There is no privacy now.

One time I reviewed a product called Future Phone. It was a service that let you make free international calls. You would pick up your phone, you’d dial an access number in Iowa, and it would say put in the country code and phone number and presto, you could talk as long as you want overseas for free.

And I loved it, it was great, but my readers went crazy. They could not figure out how are they making money? And finally on the response area of the website, one reader said, “I know. It’s a privacy scam. They’re listening in to our phone calls.”

And I’m like, “And what?”

And he’s like, “Well, like if we’re going to buy a stock, they would know in advance and they could buy it up.”

And I’m like, “Dude, if you’re going to be paranoid, at least be sensible about your paranoia."

Look, if you were worried about privacy, then how do you know Visa is not at this moment looking through your statements going, "Oh, my god, another renewal of the Playboy." Oh, geez.

How do you know Verizon is not right now looking through your statements going, “Can you believe this guy? He’s got three girlfriends.”

I mean you don’t know. You have no privacy. But that what you buy at the grocery store on your loyalty card, they know everything about you. And frankly, if you think that anyone is that interested in the mundane details of your life, you’re self aggrandizing.

So A, you have no privacy now, B, it’s only going to get worse, and C, you’re really not that interesting.

Recorded on: May 15, 2008.

We have no privacy, and you are not that interesting.

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