I am struggling with Facebook.  I began using it a couple of years ago, and I found it to be a tremendous tool for reconnecting with those I’d lost touch with, as well as building additional strength in relationships I have been growing more recently.

Yet the latest steps taken by Facebook (detailed superbly here) have made me question whether I should continue to use the service.  I detest the notion that, by default, I give up most privacy rights when I use the service. I do not like that they default to getting all of my information.

Of course, I understand that anything one places on the internet is, by default, open and notorious.  I think my friend Zach Elliott said it very well when he responded to my griping about privacy (on FB) as follows:

I always act as if I’m shouting through a megaphone on a busy downtown intersection when I’m on the net. I assume I have no privacy, even when I’m afforded the illusion of privacy.

No one compels me or anyone else to use Facebook.  Perhaps FB is a bit like the drug dealer who lets someone test crack for free in order to build a long-term customer dependence.  Whatever its addictiveness, though, I know I could do without Facebook. I just don’t want to.  And I know that a number of my friends are in the same position.

So this is my modest proposal. Why not have a paid subscription model that permits someone, for a nominal fee (or for a lifetime buy-in), to have robust privacy protections?  The free model could remain the default, but I think I probably would pay some small monthly amount to keep in touch with the layers of friends I have been able to recapture using the service.

I believe this is a very important issue, despite the way people portray FB as a trivial time-waster.  Facebook permits a breadth and depth of connection that has led to greater relationship networks.  It is especially important to those, like me, who grew up in numerous places, and who therefore have friends spread out around the world.  I want FB to succeed — but not at the cost of default privacy settings that leave members open to the world.

Let me know what you think.