You media types would refer to this problem as a "Ghost in the Machine". source:http://thepoliceland.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/ghost_in_the_machine_cover.jpg

A new conflict between users must be emerging on Facebook, if a story that’s front page news on the Sunday New York Times is any indication.

The article reflects the disconcertment of older generations, who are increasingly becoming responsible for making Facebook the world’s second most-visited website, over the social network’s helpful suggestions to help them reconnect with online friends regardless of whether or not they’re still alive. The story, in typical NYT style, cites academics, finds a crazy example and has a tint of melodrama followed by poetic comfort.

This would appear to be the start of differing points of view amongst the now half-billion people making profiles on the site (that number fails to account what percentage of those profiles are utter bullshit). On one side we have the young-un’s- college students, young professionals and Gawker who are all vocally pissed over Facebook’s disregard for privacy because dammit, sharing that picture of all of us passing a joint with our 818 friends should have no bearing on our job prospects. Now entering the scene are these fast-aging Baby Boomers, Silent Generation, what have you- who have maybe 200 friends tops and exist on the site mainly to comment on statuses to the chagrin of their nieces and nephews. These people aren’t quite sure how to upload more than one photo at a time just yet and are either retired or have enough years in at the company that “privacy” doesn’t even enter their mind. This segment doesn’t care about that kind of stuff, and if the site have all of our basic personal information to begin with they should show a little more consideration when our friends are deceased.

These old people do raise a legitimate concern, especially as “checking my Facebook” is now part of our daily routine. The story discusses some of the different ways the site is trying to handle checking our living status, and I found it especially comical on the NYT’s part that when using software the site will “dispatch a human” to investigate further if wall posts suggests someone has left this Earth.

Nonetheless, I’m still expecting some kind of response to this story about a breach of privacy, that the site is willing to share too much of our personal information as it is and learning of our deaths will only make Facebook into a more Orwellian tool that is entirely inescapable because we all log on at least three times a day. Whatever, you’ll still be dead.

P.S.— On a Facebook-related note, have you seen the trailer for “The Social Network” yet? Just take a look and you’ll agree that comedic geniuses David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin came together to give audiences a fantastic comedy. Especially after previous efforts “Benjamin Button” and “Charlie Wilson’s War” weren’t eliciting many laughs.

Marc