As I have mentioned in a previous blog post, while I have been on holidays over the last couple weeks, totally disconnected from everything online, unwinding and re-charging batteries, I have also had plenty of time to rethink how I am effectively making use of various different social software tools, both internally and externally, and after plenty of thought I have come to the conclusion that, slowly but steadily, I am becoming a little bit of a curmudgeon. Perhaps more than what I could have expected. At least, I wasn’t expecting it this soon, even though I have been using social software tools since as far back as 2000 and 2001. But the reality is that I am becoming one.
I know that statement may come across to folks out there as a shocker. Yes, Luis Suarez, one of the thousands of social computing evangelists out there turning himself into a curmudgeon after all these years getting the most out of the social software experience. Goodness!, if I didn’t know why I will probably be shocked myself as well! But, eventually, there is a reason. As usual, there’s always a reason.
I guess I could sum it up in one single sentence: "The more heavily involved I’m with the various social networking sites available out there, the more I heart my own personal business blogs". As you may have guessed, this crankiness phase I’m going through hasn’t got anything to do with the world of social computing in general, but more with a good number of social networking sites. And, funny enough, they all happen to be some of the most popular ones.
It all has got to do with something as important as protecting your identity, your brand (And that one of the company that may be employing you), your personal image, your own self in various social software spaces that more and more we seem to keep losing control over, and with no remedy. It is what Harold Jarche mentioned a little bit in a blog post ("Where’s your data?") and which I thought was worthwhile revisiting again.
Everyone knows about Facebook and LinkedIn, perhaps two of the most powerful social networking sites available out there for everyone to get connected and reach out not only to fellow colleagues but also to customers, business partners, other thought leaders in whatever the industry and friends and family, of course, specially for Facebook. But how many folks do really know something so important, yet so equally ignored, that has become a bit too worrying lately? Yes, certainly, I am talking about the Terms of Service for each of them. Have you read them? Have you really read them? Have you understood the repercussions of using such networking sites? Do you realise that by making heavy use of either of them you pretty much lose all of your rights to the content that you generate and therefore should own by default?
Yes, many people do not know that, yet their terms of service state it very clear. Yet we continue to make use of them. Why? Because everyone else is in there? Because it’s the current hype (You need to use Facebook to share your photos so that you could tag or be tagged, or you need to have a profile in LinkedIn so you could land in that perfect dream job that never seems to come through?)? Because if you don’t have a presence there it means you don’t get social software and social networking within a business context? Because… you get the drift…
Well, I am starting to get tired of that. I am starting to get tired of having to constantly protect my name, my brand, my image (And that one of the company that employs me) from just some networking site that doesn’t understand the concept of protecting the rights and the data of the end-users who have made that site incredibly popular in the first place. I am starting to get tired of the abuse that those sites are inflicting upon their end-users by re-using their content for their own purposes, and in most cases without any kind of approval or further notice.
That’s why over the last few months I haven’t been very active in either Facebook or LinkedIn. I have been keeping a profile for each of them, but have remained personally dormant all along in those spaces. On purpose. However, I feel it is time to change that. More than anything else, because, just recently, I was alerted that one of my favorite social file sharing sites has joined that selected group of social networking sites with rather aggressive terms of service. And it is actually a situation that has been there for months! Yes, for months!! I am talking, of course, about Slideshare and its terms. Quite an interesting read, if you ask me.
I guess that plenty of these social networking sites should learn quite a bit from those that are doing things right! Examples like Twitter come to mind. And that’s why I have decided that instead of remaining dormant (i.e. for Facebook and LinkedIn) or making use of them in a lightweight manner (i.e. Slideshare), I am having enough of it. I think it’s a good time that we put a stop to it. That we all become curmudgeons from those networking sites that clearly don’t seem to understand the rights of the people they are trying to serve.
So, yes, from now on, I guess you could call me a social networking site curmudgeon, one that will stop making use, as of today, of Facebook, LinkedIn & Slideshare. No excuses. For sure. It’s about time. I will still keep my profile for each and everyone of them, hoping that one of these days they would understand the kind of harm they are inflicting upon themselves by not protecting the core business of what they are trying to offer.
And, finally, a new lesson learned for yours truly. Next time around that one of my trusted contacts invites me to explore a new social networking tool with powerful capabilities the first thing I’ll be doing is certainly not jumping the shark, build a profile, and a network, and put there some content in it to get things going. No, I won’t do that. First, I will read their Terms of Service and if they are along the same lines as the ones I have mentioned above, I will still put my curmudgeon hat on and turn the offer down kindly. And move on…
Life is just too short to have to waste your time, your energy and your effort (And that of your social networks!) in social networking sites that take away from you the most precious thing: your identity, your brand, your image, your content… Yourself.
And I am no longer willing to do that. And you?
Tags: Social Networking Sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Slideshare, ToS, Terms of Service, Terms, Privacy, Rights, End-Users Rights, Data Protection, Data Ownership, Privacy, Security, Branding, Brands, Personal Branding, Corporate Brand, Curmudgeon, Evangelist, Harold Jarche, Data Management, Information Management, Twitter, Content Management, User Generated Content, Enterprise 2.0, Social Software, Social Networking, Social Computing, Social Media, Collaboration, Communities, Learning, Knowledge Sharing, KM, Knowledge Management, Innovation, Networking, Social Networks, Conversations, Dialogue, Communication, Connections, Relationships, Productivity