The Grand Facebook Boycott: A Rumour Or A Likely Reality?


Facebook has always been controversial.  Even the genesis of the company seemed to be shrouded in a host of backstabbing ruthlessness.

But for the first few years of its existence, Facebook genuinely did seem to exist purely as a social network, with a few adverts thrown in here or there.  Then, the changes started.  At least one major change each year, as it happens.

From the conclusion of its days as a network purely for those in higher education to the ‘timeline’ addition, this post’s guest author Danny Hall states that Facebook has continued to mutate into something that is almost unrecognizable from its earlier incarnations. [tweet this]

In this article, Danny claims that the one thing that hasn’t changed are the continued controversies that the site has generated.  So what is making more and more people want to boycott the world’s biggest social site? Let’s have a look!

1. Information sharing


The Electronic Frontier Foundation highlighted two substantial concerns regarding Facebook’s sharing of information. The first, which was given the simply title of ‘connections’, occurs whenever a user clicks the ‘Like’ button to any page.  When this is done, all information contained within that connection is once again classed as ‘public’ even if the individual profile is marked ‘private’, which includes the majority of information on the user’s profile.

The second is called ‘instant personalization’.  Essentially, when a user is logged into FB and visits a number of other sites (such as Pandora or Bing), those sites are then able to access all of the important information on your account such as your name, your birthday, your location and other pages that you’ve ‘liked’.  Again, this information is classed as being public so is free to be shared.

2. Bullying


It has been argued by many people that the social network has actually lead to a substantial increase in bullying amongst those still at school, with statistics reported in the Daily Mail showing that 87% of teenagers who’d been bullied online stated that the harassment occurred on Facebook.

It’s not just at school level that the abuse has occurred, either: in 2009 a teenager who posted death threats on the social site was the first person to receive a jail sentence for abuse carried out through the site.

3. Advertiser concerns


In August 2007, a variety of British companies including Virgin Media and Vodafone pulled their advertising from the network, citing the need to ‘protect their brand’.  It was later reported that their adverts had been appearing on pages associated with a questionable political party.

4. Hate Groups


On a few occasions the network has been accused of fostering hatred by hosting groups associated with various controversial topics, such as holocaust denial, pro-mafia and even pro-rape ‘humour’ pages.  The latter was challenged by the Rape is No Joke group, who were rebuffed, with Facebook citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to free speech in their defence.

5. Message Charges


The latest controversy has come as a result of the network seeking to make some extra cash by charging users to send messages to people who weren’t on their friends list (or don’t have any mutual friends).  Message costs in the test run have been quoted as being as high as £11 if the recipient is a celebrity.

With issues and controversy continuing to roll in, it will be intriguing to see if anyone can be persuaded to boycott the social site on a larger scale. [tweet this]  Don’t hold your breath…

About the Author

FacebookDanny Hall doesn’t underestimate the importance of social media in today’s digital age. He is the founder and co-director of Freelance SEO Essex, a small team of SEO consultants that services small to medium sized business in the South East and across the UK. Tweet him @freelanceseosx.

Photo credit: zeevveez via photopin, ccryancr via photopin cc, JLM Photography. via photopin cc, Chris Devers via photopin cc, joiseyshowaa via photopin cc, bernat… via photopin cc

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