Internet blogs invade privacy


    Xanga scared me from the beginning.The idea of posting a diary online, for all the cyber world to see, appalled me. Throw in the fact that not everyone on Xanga is my age, although they might claim to be, and I knew I wanted nothing to do with it.

    Then along came MySpace, the same basic concept as Xanga but with more emphasis on the personality profile, making it even easier for any random person to instantly find information about its users. I know this concept might be fun in theory, but with so many people being MySpace members and more logging on every day, it’s not a good idea.

    And now, after a long, steady decline, it seems that Facebook has gone the same route.

    Initially, I saw Facebook as a refreshing alternative to the easily accessible, stalker-friendly blogging domain of MySpace and Xanga. Facebook started out simply as a way of connecting with new classmates, keeping in touch with high school friends and possibly trying to find out the identity of that hottie in your religion class. Only chosen college students could see your profile.

    But the designers of Facebook couldn’t be satisfied with their success. Choosing to ignore Facebook’s original users, as well as the purpose of its existence, the creators have opened Facebook to anyone with an e-mail address. It will no longer be a safe haven for college students to connect. Instead, it has become another open site that leaves users questioning their privacy.

    This change is a serious step down. Facebook is going the same route as MySpace and Xanga. Before, a student couldn’t spend more than half an hour on Facebook – maybe writing on friends’ walls, checking updates and altering something in his or her profile. But now there are “notes,” which I still haven’t found a specific purpose for, other than a subtle push toward blogging. Just like on MySpace, users can start a daily journal for the world to read – allowing both you, as the writer, and your friends, as the readers, to kill a few more hours in front of the computer.

    The News Feed took it too far, and Facebookers let the designers know it. I thought it was crazy when Xanga added “footprints,” enabling everyone to see exactly what its users did on the site. For the time the News Feed was posted without optional limitations, I avoided Facebook, not out of worry that others might know what I’m doing, but because the new format was a direct invasion of privacy.

    With the addition of thousands of new users who are not currently in college, the extra information that the News Feed provides worries me more.

    It seems, like the brains behind many other Internet communities, Facebook’s creators have shifted their focus away from providing a safe, fun site that attempts to get as many users as possible for as many hours a day as possible. Everything that once made Facebook different and refreshing is slowly being replaced, and it won’t be long until the stance I have taken on other blogging sites will apply to Facebook also.

    Valerie Cooper is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Azle.