8.4 Facebook, the Internet as drugs, and who has the (copy)rights?


    The government is not the only ones to hassles our privacy.

    The social network site Facebook – the largest in the world, with over 1.2 billion(!) users – amended its privacy policies completely unilaterally in 2010, and kept on doing so afterwards. That illustrated how information that could only be found privately was suddenly made public. It led to fierce reactions. The authoritative publication Wired threw the following into Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s lap:

    “I think Facebook, itself, is a major agent of social change and by acting otherwise Zuckerberg is being arrogant and condescending. 350 million people signed up for Facebook under the belief their information could be shared just between trusted friends. Now, the company says that’s old news, that people are changing. I don’t believe it. The change of the contract with users based on feigned concern for users’ desires is offensive and makes any further moves by Facebook suspect.”

    Another flip side of the Internet is its risk of addiction. We are talking about “sociodicts”: people who are addicted to networks, to Internet porn, or online games. Former addict and Seatster Kees Romkes shares his experiences:
    “You have the feeling you are alive because you interact with others, not because you ‘are’ yourself. The urge to be connected all the time is frightening. I come from an online game world where addiction is the order of the day where people are actively busy to continuously improve themselves, to earn more money, to be the best, and to amass status. World of Warcraft is a fantastic, but frightening, game where rewards based on time are paramount. With these rewards, you can show your friends that you are the best. You can show that you are spending all your time on gaming, where the effort (sixteen hours or more a day) is given a ‘heroic status’… ‘That guy is awesome’… Until I found a different challenge in my job and life, I had spent over 6,000 hours gaming online…”

    Copyright or right to copy?

    We need a new copyright structure, and quickly, please. The Dutch copyright law goes back to 1912. According to the Foundation of Copyright and New Media, 40% of the Dutch population runs the risk of infringing upon the current copyright laws daily.
    The most recent report from The Dutch House of Representatives on copyright laws advocates, “upholding the law and subsequently prosecuting offenders.” Barely three pages later, you will find “thanks to technological and social developments, the boundaries of upholding the copyright laws are coming into view.” Which is it to be, dear lawmaker?

    What about your LinkedIn profile? It is built up as an employee in a company, probably during working hours. Is this profile, with all its linked business relations, yours, Linkedin’s or your employers?

    Internationally, it gets more complex. Think about the fast-growing trend of video conferencing. On the American site Meetings.com, lawyer Stephanie Cason says:

    “With virtual conferences, ownership of material may be unclear. A presenter might submit an outline or record a speech, which the conference organizers then include in a larger publication, adding to or changing the presenter’s material. Can the organizers reproduce this on their website? Can the presenter? The answers are often unclear.”

    A digital tsunami is coming our way that will merge and intertwine our intelligence and information. Unconsciously, we are all becoming a part of the “Global Brain”. It is not a question of whether we want this. How we want it is something we might be able to influence. As an individual, and as an organization, we have a choice to make. Do we dig our heels in, and hope the wave will roll over us and leave us unscathed? Or, will we learn to skillfully surf this tidal wave, and, in the process, make maximum use of its boundless energy?


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