Laboratorium reader JL:
Well, what I found most distasteful was the masking of pure commercialism with the rhetoric of democracy and candor. What you’re buying is depicted as what you’re doing, with the underlying assertion being that you are what you buy, and if the purpose of Facebook is to share with everyone who you are (present yourself to be), then very naturally, what you have chosen to buy is a facet of who you are.
I think their moves undermine Facebook, because, as I understand it, with Facebook, it’s all about self-fashioning: YOU determine the image that you will present to others. But with [Beacon], Facebook decides for you how you constitute yourself, and they take away your ability to fashion yourself. Your audience will now know every movie you attend, every item to buy. You lose the ability to try on an identity: Maybe I went to the Dylan movie, but I didn’t like it; it’s not part of me. Maybe I bought a triple X DVD, but actually, I really don’t want the world to know about it—or I don’t want them to know I bought acne medicine or whatever. and so on.
That strikes me as exactly right; it explains not just this privacy trainwreck at Facebook, but the previous one as well.