The privacy issues connected with how these popular services collect and store their users' personal information for commercial purposes, make Swedish journalist Hanne Kjöller suggest we boycott them (via Media Culpa):
Kjöller writes (in Swedish): "Too old? Probably. I don't see the point with the website Facebook. But there are others who do. Business men and American terrorist hunters for example."
By the way, isn't that a strange phenomenon? Leading journalists that write negative articles about new media technologies that they don't understand, but understand well enough to bash on a prime location in the paper. I suggest that you either get a better understanding of the technology/service/website first, or refrain from writing about it all together.
Anyway, I think that the age factor might, unintentionally, be where she hits the nail. According to a study by Pew Internet "two-thirds of teens with profiles on blogs or social-networking sites have restricted access to their profiles in some fashion, such as by requiring passwords or making them available only to friends on an approved list." In other words, young people who are savvy online networkers are aware of the risks with being too open and act accordingly.... (read the full post over at Media Culpa).
I must admit I'm sceptical towards the trend that Kjöller questions myself, or some of its faces anyway. Being restrictive about how much information you leave for anyone to access is sensible, but if the service provider is able to pass on all your information, restrictions on access or not, to third parties, those restrictions don't help you much.
Is it a problem that people use the information you leave behind e.g. on MySpace to decide if you are in target group for razor blades or Barbie dolls? Well, yes and no. Age (being a minor or not) is one consideration, and who the service provider can pass the information on to (if it can be required to pass it on to the government) is another...
I wouldn't call it an axis of evil, far from, and if we should boycott Facebook, MySpace and Gmail on this rationale, we should, in the interest of fairness, start by boycotting Google.
Web 2.0 guru Tim O'Reilly has said that contrary to what most people think, Web 2.0 is about controlling data that people leave behind on the web and about the databases that are created as a result of this (in this Wired article, I'm paraphrasing him here).
I'm a bit uneasy about such a scenario, or some of its possible implications. It's great to get spot-on recommendations from Amazon, but, ultimately, I'm scared, perhaps a bit paranoid, I'll end up Scroogled...