In the year 2012, the social networking service and website known as "Facebook" is about as common, and well known, as terms such as Ford, Chevy, McDonald's, World Series, Geico … Dan Whittle, Truman Jones, and the iconic list goes on.
Facebook was created and launched in February 2004 by Harvard University student – and programming prodigy – Mark Zuckerman, along with a few fellow Harvard roommates and friends.
Named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2010, Zuckerman, now 28 years old, is worth a reported $17.5 billion. In addition to being one the youngest billionaires in the world, he, too, is one of the most influential.
Indeed, Facebook has become a global phenomenon.
Quite literally, it allows people all across the world to connect to and communicate with whomever they desire, whenever they desire – at any time of the day, from Bangkok to the 'Boro, you could say.
However, as of late, Facebook has experienced a few problems.
It appears – once again – the First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech is at the epicenter of the Facebook controversy. Some contend Facebook has tightened up on its censorship measures.
Why? The answer, some argue, is Facebook has been too lax in allowing inappropriate comments and postings.
The April 14 edition of Forbes (online) carried this headline: "Facebook Responds to CISPA Controversy," CISPA being an acronym for Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. From the accompanying article, the Facebook vice president of U.S. policy, in an open letter, stated "More than 845 million trust Facebook with their information."
It's obvious Facebook, for the most part, is similar to cell phones: Practically everyone has it.
Hardly a day goes by that I don't hear someone mention something about reconnecting with a long, lost friend via Facebook; reading some juicy gossip about someone on Facebook; adding a "new friend" to his/her Facebook list – even becoming involved in a serious romance with someone met on Facebook.
Granted, using Facebook to hunt up old friends and relatives is a grand thing.
Without doubt, Facebook has brought joy to the lives of many, compared to decades ago, when people drifted apart, for whatever reason, and lost touch forever.
However, when it comes to striking up a serious romance by an electronic means, such as Facebook, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, in my opinion, nailed it down with their 1975 hit song, when they sang "Third-Rate Romance/Low-rent rendezvous."
Just stop and give it some basic thought. When communicating with a "new friend" on Facebook, how-the-heck do you know, precisely, with whom you are communicating?
For example, a lonely guy meets a lonely, ravenous beauty on Facebook. The lonely male arranges to hook up with this "eye candy" female at an upscale bar. After they meet, have a few cocktails and talk, they end up back at her pad. Come to find out, this ravenous beauty is not as she appeared online.
Yet, and sadly so, a "new friend" on Facebook – Twitter, any number of social networking services – could turn out to be a murderous psycho. It happens every day.
Though I have to admire Mark Zuckerman's innovate, world-changing brilliance, I am forced to ask: Just how much further do we go with technology?
Still, what concerns me even more is this: Why would mature, well-educated people be so eager to share their personal information with virtual strangers? Are they abysmally naïve? Are they so lonely they're willing to put it all out there and risk everything for companionship? Both?
I imagine we, all, either have heard or used the old adage, "too much information."
From a personal standpoint, I'm not comfortable giving out much personal information to anyone before meeting face-to-face.
While there may be "more than 845 million" people who "trust Facebook with their information," I can show you one who does not.
Mike Vinson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.