The coffee is on the table, the newspaper lying next to it – a good start to the morning. But then on page three you discover a picture of yourself; it's there without your consent and has juicy details and photographs from your private life. Impossible, you mutter to yourself, I’m not famous. That’s what Marc L. from Bordeaux thought until he opened a magazine one day and found himself gazing at himself. The French magazine Le Tigre wanted to point out the dangers of publicising personal details on the internet. It came across Marc L. by chance and then put the pieces of his life, which were floating about in the virtual world, together as a portrait. The most personal information was found on Facebook, where the boundaries between private and public are blurred almost entirely.
Give me the data
The profiles of adolescents are no longer to be made available through search engines
Of mafiosi and exposed breasts
What is also difficult to control is the authenticity of profiles. Italian football player Alessandro Del Piero filed a lawsuit when unknown persons set up a Facebook profile under his name portraying him as a Nazi sympathiser. There are increasingly cases in which profiles are hacked and messages asking for donations are sent to the user’s friends.
How to exchange friends for hamburgers
Even politics has discovered Facebook for itself. European politicians follow suit after US president Barack Obama’s success in the 'participatory' web. Facebook pioneer is José Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission. His conservative profile does not reveal private details such as hobbies or favourite books, but in view of the European elections in June 2009, it is nevertheless a first step towards encouraging urgently needed voter turnout amongst youths. Barrosso meanwhile has 103 friends – not very many in the Facebook universe, where quantity mostly comes before quality.
Last year Burger King launched a somewhat unusual advertisement campaign alluding to these pseudo-friendships: Whopper Sacrifice promised every user a burger in exchange for ten friends. A friendship is thus barely worth a few cent. Facebook ended this campaign prematurely with the justification that it goes against Facebook’s leading principle, the networking of people. If from now on, after reading this article, you enter Facebook with an uneasy feeling but can nonetheless abstain from the site; there is withdrawal help at hand: Facorette.