How do you boil a frog?
According to the old object lesson, you do not get the water bubbling and then drop the unfortunate amphibian into the pot. He will react to the unfavorable conditions, jump out, and save his life.
If, however, you put Froggy into the pot and then gradually increase the temperature of the water, he'll adjust, stay put -- and eventually croak.
Today, the Washington Post ran an article about Facebook's Beacon which posts user's online activities for others to see, share, and enjoy.
Touted as a means of using word-of-mouth to give "personal recommendations" to purchases, services, and entertainment choices, Beacon allows participating advertisers detailed information into the buying choices and browsing habits of Facebook users -- without their explicit consent. Often, without their knowledge.
There have been several instances, for example, of people who did their Christmas shopping online, only to have all of their purchases (including markdowns in price) show up for their friends' and families' perusal.
One man bought his wife a diamond ring for Christmas only to have her ask him "who the ring was for!?"
Not wanting to spoil the surprise, he asked, "What ring?"
Ooooooo, he had some 'splainin' to do!
It's Christmas, for crying out loud. Who wants their gift purchases broadcast to the general public? It's ridiculous.
But not half as ridiculous as this comment on the whole bad-idea Beacon spotlight into the soft underbelly of users' lives:
“We know we don’t have a right to privacy...” says 25-year old Facebook user Tricia Bushnell. “Just because I belong to Facebook, do I now have to be careful about everything else I do on the Internet?”
I'm not sure what I find most unsettling -- the disturbing thought that a young person in America doesn't believe she has a right to privacy, or the unstated assumption that until this Beacon Bungle, Ms. Bushnell and others like her didn't think they had to be careful about what they did online.
Bushnell is quoted in a New York Times story on the matter . According to the article, in the past 10 days, over 50,000 people have signed a petition protesting the online tracking.
Facebook brushes aside the protests and complaints. "You hate it now," they say, "but in time, you'll learn to like it." They have no intention of doing away with Beacon. All they have to do is wait for the younger users to grow up with the idea of a Beacon shining in the private places of their lives.
-- Is it warm in here, or is it just me?