Random information can lead to great discoveries. From medicines to plate glass to Velcro, it is often the case that a funny and creative thing happens on the way to something else. This is possibly why some digital age speculators believe that social networking drives productivity. Employees stuck on a difficult problem might just find that taking a break to check out their Facebook friends or Twitter feed gets their creative juices flowing, and soon enough solutions happen. This is one of the numerous revelations making the rounds from those who spend time analyzing social networking behavior and its impact.
At the same time, more revelations contend that what you do on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook. It’s mined and sold for handsome profits. Recent alterations to Facebook’s policies are causing grave concerns among privacy advocates. Every status update to your friends is public and searchable by subject. If you “like” something it must be public otherwise you don’t get to like it. Innocent posts that contain “suspicious” keywords can put you on a “watch list.” Plus Facebook publishes to other sites such as Yelp and pretty soon there is absolutely no place to hide – though some manage to remain hidden. Such publicity is a good thing if you’re a Pop Tart or a Pop Icon but probably not if you want to pop out of sight.
In light of this some are calling for a new social networking site that gives members of society more control over their information. But that’s no easy task. For now Facebook claims has 400 million users, 70 percent of whom are outside the U.S, and altogether spend 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook. The average user has 160 friends and creates 70 “pieces of content,” per month. If Facebook were a country only India and China would be more populated. All of which means Facebook is useful for party planning but definitely not for misanthropes.