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Facebook: Be afraid?

The BBC’s ‘Inside Facebook’ programme in December asked some searching questions about the kind of data the social network is gathering and its ethics. Facebook, it implied, was pushing back the boundaries of what was acceptable to consumers by stealth. Consequently, for consumers, its power is increasingly unsettling.

But looking at Facebook from a B2B point of view – you get a very different perspective. Data in B2B is a whole different ball game, privacy much less of an issue.

The whole programme underlined the differences between B2B and B2C social media usage. Facebook’s philosophy is based on Zuckerberg’s vision that the world is better if we’re connected, and constantly sharing information. This may be true of our social lives, but in the work environment, there are limitations on sharing. While we may want to gather opinions and compare experiences, it’s done in a more guarded fashion – most business information is confidential, and sharing is either inappropriate or actively harmful.

So are fears about Facebook unfounded? As long as current attitudes prevail, yes; but society is constantly evolving. So what will B2B Facebook usage look like in 20 years? Will digital natives throw caution to the wind and reveal their companies’ inner secrets? I don’t believe so. There are certain incontrovertible rules of business that transcend technology. True, we’ll all be more comfortable with sharing, and will probably share more, but not everything.

In summary, you probably should worry about Facebook, how much data it has on you (not to mention your children), but not about your business use.