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Social Networking Threatens the World Wide Web on its 20th Birthday

How do you 'like' that?

This amalgamation of information isn't evil in and of itself. In fact, it could be remarkably empowering. But the problem is that all of it is in the hands of one large company and that company owns it. It will use it in marketing studies and advertising profiles and it will turn that information over to any government agency that asks for it. You have no control over that. It's in the user agreement. It's published and it's no longer yours. It belongs to Facebook and anybody Facebook wants to share it with.

If you want to try to alter what's presented and how, you can't. One of the charms and strengths of the Web is your abilility to design and organize your presentations on a website that can easily be unique -- showing what you want to show and hiding what you don't, protecting contact with others through easily created web forms and discussion boards that let people "hide" their real identities, controlling what you share with the world. That can't happen with Facebook.

Social Networking displays information about you as an individual while restraining your ability to contribute information and thinking about the rest of the world. In fact, its structure often makes that contribution more difficult.

With Twitter, for example, you have 140 characters to make your statement. How much thinking can you communicate in 140 characters? Twitter feels like a room in which a large number of people are shouting single sentences -- a lot of noise, even a few ideas but mainly just individualized statements bereft of context, knowledge or the need to exchange perspectives with anyone. Facebook carries so many one-sentence statements that writing anything longer seems strange and even rude.

The incremental "take-over" of the Internet by these programs has one other, even more serious, impact: it's oppressing people, particularly young people, by repressing their thinking and communication, the very benefits the Web has given us.

The World Wide Web is a classroom without walls, a library in which a library card isn't needed. Its power of access to so much information is expanded by the Web's inclusion of you, and every other human being, as a source of information. We not only learn what others think and know from the Web, we are free and even encouraged to add our own viewpoint, knowledge and experiences to that massive mix of information. By adding the hyper-link to this system, its developers have erased national boundaries, combatted cultural exclusivism, battered racism and sexism, smashed into human isolation, gone a long way toward combatting ignorance and expanded our ability to effectively write and communicate.

The seed in the struggle for freedom is the belief that you, as an individual, have value and that your life, as you live it, is of interest and importance to others. That's a message that is repressed in this oppressive society and keeping that truth hidden is the key to continued oppression. There is nothing more liberating that realizing that your thinking and your experience can be shared with others and that others actually can benefit from it. The Web is the intellectual champion of individual human worth.

story | by Dr. Radut