Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fuel for Facebook paranoia

On the way to Shenzhen, I stopped in a 7-11 for supplies, and noticed a tabloid-looking magazine whose cover sported a picture of two early-twenties Asian girls kissing, a bunch of Chinese characters I couldn't read, and the word "FACEBOOK" splayed across it all. I looked to the Chinese-fluent Wilson for an explanation.

Like personal space, privacy isn't really a recognized concept here. Hong Kong tabloids are as ruthless as those in the United Kingdom, but even more invasive, and not as constrained by the strong defamation laws that control in the UK. The girl being featured on the magazine cover was not even a celebrity, but the daughter of a local television star. She's attending college in the United States (University of Colorado-Boulder, I think, which is a lovely little party school), and she's acting, well, like someone who's attending college in the United States. The magazine editors simply went on her Facebook profile, started downloading pictures, and printed them (apparently, they respect copyright about as much as they respect privacy).

As Wilson explained all this to me, I thought about all the people I know who removed or sanitized their Facebook profiles before going through OCI (I stubbornly refused to do so, reasoning that any firm that wouldn't have me because of the content of my Facebook profile was not a firm I wanted to work at). I also thought about the roughly 700 drunken pictures of me available on Facebook. It's a good thing I'm not a celebrity...or related to one, evidently.

But can you imagine the phone call that girl got from her irked mother in Hong Kong yesterday? Awesome.

No comments: