Turns out Facebook is more sinister than we thought. Not only are they collecting and selling data, they are listening in on Messenger conversations and transcribing them. That’s just weird. What could they possibly hope to gain from conversations like “dude!” “hahahaha.” “Pick up eggs.” “You OK if I ask your sister out?” Still, it is creepy that a roomful of people might be laughing at your grammar, or your choice of restaurants, or the city in which you live. Creepier than a peep hole in the girls bathroom. The immediate danger to each of us is practically nil. But it does give us a sense of Zuckerberg’s ethics. And while some media are calling him out, he seems to be resisting a total collapse.
Back when there were fewer media outlets, the missteps of Nixon were captured in this zinger:
The lampoon caused Nixon’s trust rating to fall precipitously. He aided the fall with a failed policy in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal, searing his brand into the minds of the American people.
Trust is a valuable thing. Nixon lost it. Zuckerberg is losing it. Betrayal is hard to overcome. It leads us to wonder, “Who can we trust, especially with our digital lives?” That answer should be obvious: Your life is yours, you should control it. You should be responsible for how it is used. After all, we are grownups. And we should act accordingly. How we act in public, in private, online, matters. Somebody is always watching, ready to call us on our mistakes or our double standards.
Integrity matters. Consider this: spies are among us, we know their names, in fact—we brought them into this world: our children. They’re not Zuckerberg bots, or making secret Watergate tapes, but they are listening to everything we say, and observing everything we do. Children notice everything. In fact, they notice details we adults miss. They are programmed to be little data retrievers (they even slobber like retrievers).
So when we think about being spied on, and get over-anxious about our private lives being not so private, we need to remind ourselves of those little people who are watching us. The harm done to them by our bad behavior is far more reaching than the harm Facebook could inflict with its invasive policies.
Let’s keep things in perspective, and let the kid-filter be our guide. When you post, ask yourself, “Would this be appropriate for a 5-year-old?” Think about it. Would you write your banking info on your child’s backpack, or show them pictures of your company party, or plug in your credit card info and let them play games? Would you gossip, cheat on an expense report, share photos that mock a coworker, or even peek at that adult site if you knew your child was making notes and forming behaviors?
If you are a parent, someone is spying on you. And it’s a good thing.