What is it with all of the Facebook phobia I’m hearing lately? Today alone I have had three people tell me they either don’t want to sign up to Facebook or that they have signed up begrudgingly.

Here’s one email I just received from someone I’ll keep anonymous to protect the innocently luddite:

You’ll be highly amused to know that after so much hassle about FaceBook I’ve been bullied into setting up a profile. Don’t get too excited, I’ll
continue to be old, grumpy and curmudgeonly about having yet another online community tool to maintain and it will probably go the same way
as my abused and very neglected Second Life avatar.

Now this person isn’t a luddite at all. He is an industry insider. That’s what makes this phobia all the more concerning.

Listen – I have no problem with people not “getting” the whole online social networking thing. I’m not sure I get it myself. It might be an age thing. And yes, I avoided Twitter for a few months. But not because I was scared of it or scared about my privacy. I just didn’t see the point. Now – I do. Like most web-related things, you don’t really see the point until you’re using it. I can remember like it was yesterday when most people I knew didn’t see the point of email. Or mobile phones.

And I understand that Facebook isn’t nearly mainstream yet. I don’t expect my mum to be on Facebook yet. Or my sisters for that matter. But what I don’t get is geeks being worried about it.

Here’s another email I got today from a friend of mine who is a certified geek:

I nearly didn’t join Facebook. As someone with an unusual name, it’s a much bigger invasion of privacy than some systems and is not crystal clear about what information can be seen by who.

Now, she probably knows something I don’t, but here’s what Facebook say when you sign up:

At Facebook, we believe you should have control over your information and who sees it. So in addition to the basic visibility rules – only your friends and people in your networks can see your profile – we also give you granular control over the information you post to the site.

According to this recent Wired story, “No profile information is available to search engines.” Previously, some of your most basic profile information was available to spiders, but Facebook took that out as well.

In another recent article on BoingBoing, a security expert noted:

Facebook has very very fine grained privacy controls – which most users clearly do not know how to use.

So I am hoping if you folks can help me understand the current Facebook phobia. Personally I love Facebook as a way to interact with communities of interest and keep track with what my friends and audience are doing/thinking/reading. I find it’s events module far superior for managing events like MODM than Yahoo’s Upcoming site. I’m playing around with it trying to figure out how we use it at TPN to building tighter communities with our audiences and our hosts.

But if you can see problems with it, let me know so I don’t waste time and effort.