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     Volume 7 Issue 23 | June 06, 2008 |

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I don't care; I'm leaving Facebook

Ekram Kabir

Signing up for a Facebook account was my first attempt to becoming a member of any online community. I signed up following an invitation from one of my friends in London. She said, "Facebook is great!" Gradually, my friend list became long, longer than I expected. I was quite intrigued to see so many social and professional groups on this online community! I even created a group. Finding my old school friends was an amazing experience. I also met at least 16 new people who all added me as their friends. I also conversed with some of them. And among them, some would remain as friends with whom I'd like to be in touch.

Initially, I was looking for my friends and journalist colleagues both at home and abroad. But receiving invitations from a flurry of people was a real source of irritation. I was also running 'searches' for groups formed by journalists, writers, publishers and potential employers. Whenever I logged on, I would browse a few of them. That's how I could read a few extraordinary sites on Afghan and South American literature.

Applications? I found out news-based applications that would keep me informed about the global news whenever I logged on. I also had a bookshelf to remind me about the books that I've read and I want to read. Speaking to friends who read books was a meaningful experience. I found almost all Facebookers creating photo albums. I've also created a few: family, work and Dhaka city. The number of groups created by Bangladeshis and expatriate Bangladeshis against the war criminals of 1971 seemed an encouraging aspect on Facebook.

I was glad to download the application that would allow my friends to see my writings whenever I wrote something on my blog.

So for me, the Facebook has become not just a social network, but a utility tool. It was great to find out rare links for arts and literature and read from there.

In the first two weeks, I was pretty much okay with it. I spent only ten minutes on Facebook. But as the number of friends and applications grew, I found myself spending way too much time on this community. Whenever you log on, a number of instructions about your friends occur on the home page and if you want to see what they are up to, it would take quite some time. Your walls super wall and advance wall keep receiving all sorts of unwanted jokes and intriguing pictures. Sometimes you feel tempted to add pretty women and girls who are friends of other friends. I guess about 10 invitations out of 20 would be accepted. The Facebook seemed a potential platform for flirting. I found people flirting left and right. Writings and posting on individual 'walls' indicate how creative the Facebook flirts have become. One of my closest friends [not only on Facebook] has seriously started to confide in a woman he has never known before. They [my friend and the lady] decided never to see each other in person; they want to remain friends on the net. Sounds extremely intriguing, eh?

It's also possible to become a member with a fake identity and harass as many people as you want by poking, sexy poking and naughty poking. You must see the logos of sexy pokes and naughty pokes: they are truly suggestive; isn't it exciting that erotic statements can be made without even uttering a word.

But… Yes, there's a big BUT. Facebook is likely to steal a lot of time from your professional and family life. At the end of the day, you'd find Facebook has taken away a lot of your creative time; you could have spent that time writing a book, a novel, an article!

So, I had to do something to spend less time on Facebook. Initially I blocked and deleted my walls so that I didn't have to see the flurry of attachments dropping into my profile. That worked.

Then came the BBC breaking news. In less than three hours computer programmers working for the BBC programme Click, developed an application for Facebook which they used to discover the details of four users and all their friends.

By simply downloading an application, users enable its creator to view sensitive information, even if they think they are protected by a privacy setting which claims to "hide" them. Details such as the date of birth, address and contact numbers of the user, and that of all their friends, can be seen by the creators and could potentially be stolen.

Now I panicked. I'm already scared of the surveillance society that has been created across the world. Invasion of privacy, to me, is a horrendous aspect of life. What if the information about me on Facebook is used for a different purpose? What if someone (an enemy, for example) with a fake identity becomes my friend? What if this is one of the first steps for creating the global surveillance society that we're all scared of?

Well, a decision had to be taken. No matter how much I miss these friends, no matter how I miss my bookshelf, no matter how painful it would be to lose communication with my journalist friends, I'm leaving Facebook.


Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008