For two timely dystopian Facebook reality checks, see this NYT opinion piece and also Evgeny Morozov’s The Death of the Cyberflâneur; tangentially, on Google, see Who Does Google Think You Are? (Bloomberg BusinessWeek). A couple things to keep in mind, from my perspective: 1) scripta manent (assume everything you write down and share, one way or another, will eventually be public information) and 2) there is no such thing as a free Internet service (e.g., with Facebook and Google, you are bartering personal information every time you visit the sites); people who remain circumspect about these realities and their on-line activities are more likely to avoid the dystopian downside dimensions.
LAST week, Facebook filed documents with the government that will allow it to sell shares of stock to the public. It is estimated to be worth at least $75 billion. But unlike other big-ticket corporations, it doesn’t have an inventory of widgets or gadgets, cars or phones. Facebook’s inventory consists of personal data — yours and mine.